Hiking Niagara Escarpment? Who’s up for some exercise? I am dying to experience more of the Niagara Escarpment for myself. I’ve already witnessed a few awesome Waterfalls near Dundas, and today I’m gonna stretch my legs on a 5+ km hike along the Escarpment from Rattlesnake Point to Crawford Lake. I’ve got my shoes on, done a good stretch and packed a bottle of water so I’ll stay hydrated. It is time to burn some calories and experience the Niagara Escarpment.
Both Rattlesnake Point and Crawford Lake are part of the Conservation Halton region near Burlington. It is just a 15-minute drive from Hamilton, so it is accessible no matter where you are staying in the region. Driving into the park sets the stage for the adventure ahead.
I’ve set my sights on the hike from Rattlesnake Point to Crawford Lake, but before I start that hike I take a quick detour to a short trail that takes me to the cliffs where it is popular with rock climbers. I know it is safe but I will leave that mountain to climb for someone else.
Ok, back on the trail to Crawford Lake. I start by taking the Buffalo Craig Trail loop which is also the beginning of the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail. Marked by orange trail markers, this is the path I want to follow.
The trick is to go in the direction the arrow is pointing.
The trail is fairly easy to follow at the start. Flat and well laid out I don’t even break a sweat.
There are lookout points along the way and from here you can look down and see the plains below. There is a whole lot of farmland stretched out in front of the Escarpment. If you are lucky and it’s a warm day a Turkey Vulture may just fly right by you. They call the cliffs home and can fly very close, so close that I almost was able to snap a picture of one. Close, but also very fast. I would have needed to set up a tripod and waited for the perfect shot. No regrets though as it was very cool to see a few fly past me. Back to the hike.
I’ve reached the end of the Rattlesnake Point conservation area and am now entering the Crawford Lake boundaries. This part is a bit more interesting as now I begin to hike down and back up through a canyon. At the lowest point, a creek will have to be crossed. Thankfully there is a man made trail so I don’t get soggy wet.
Remember I said to follow the orange arrows? Well, I got a little distracted and took a wrong turn. Not to worry though I figured it out quickly and headed back in the right direction towards the Crawford Lake Visitor Centre.
The prize at the end of this hike? A visit to the reconstructed Iroquois Village that is right here. An archeological dig confirmed that this spot was once home to an Iroquois village dating back over 500 years. Today they have done their best to reconstruct what it would have looked like at its most populous.
During excavations from 1973 to 1987, 11 longhouses were uncovered along with various artifacts from day-to-day lives of the pre-contact First Nations groups. The reconstructed Long Houses are open to the public and at 2:15 each day a Long House tour is conducted by park staff.
In the main Long House, a Gallery has been set up to display some of the recovered artifacts and display information about the First Nations people that called this place home over 500 years ago.
It’s time to return back to Rattlesnake Point and continue on with another adventure. Back the way I came…
I hope you get to experience this hike yourself. There are other trail options and lots more to see including Crawford Lake. If you get lost don’t worry, cell reception is pretty decent inside the park. Just make sure you know the phone number to the Visitor Centre before you begin your hike. Oh and always pack water with you so you can stay hydrated. It’ll get hot and sticky on the trails during the Summer months.