About Devil’s Punchbowl
This conservation area contains two separate falls, Upper and Lower Punch Bowl Falls.
The Lower Falls is a 5.5-metre classical waterfall, and the main Upper Falls is a 33.8-metre ribbon waterfall. The Devil’s Punch Bowl is one of the Niagara Escarpment’s most amazing sights, created at the end of the last ice age by huge melt-water rivers that plunged over the Stoney Creek Escarpment, thus carving the Punch Bowl and gorge.
From the bottom of the falls, one can see the many different coloured rock layers of the Escarpment. The Punch Bowl is the only area where one can view such a large vertical display of Ordovician and Silurian stratified rock. Some of the layers include Queenston Formation red shale, Cabot Head grey shale, limestone and shale dolomite. There is a spectacular view of Stoney Creek and Hamilton Harbour from the lookout, not to mention the view down into the seemingly bottomless gorge. The Dofasco 2000 Trail, an 11.5-kilometre trail through upper Stoney Creek that features a long boardwalk section through Vinemount Swamp Forest, begins here.
Access to the bottom of the waterfall is prohibited. Visitors shall not cross the protective fence along the escarpment or try to scale the cliffs to reach the bottom. Those doing so will be charged with trespassing and the Hamilton Fire Department will lay a $10,000 charge to those who require rope rescue from the gorge. Access to the lower escarpment is only accessible via the Bruce Trail Devils Punchbowl Side Trail. See the map for this route here. .
The main lookout over the escarpment and the City of Hamilton is only a 150m walk from the parking lot. Follow the packed gravel path to the North, towards the cross. There are three smaller lookouts along the rim of the gorge, which offer fantastic views of the gorge and the exposed escarpment rock, as well as the waterfall. Visitors are not permitted to pass the protective fence to attempt better views.
Access to the bottom of the waterfall is prohibited for visitor safety. Loose escarpment rock falls in this area often and without warning. Attempting to reach this area will result in trespass charges. The Bruce Trail is the only permitted route below the escarpment and users are required to stay on the trail. The lower punchbowl waterfall can be viewed safely without leaving the Bruce Trail. See the map for this route here.
Visitors can access the Bruce Trail and the Dofasco Rail Trail from this parking lot.
The Bruce Trail is accessible via the Devils Punchbowl Side Trail, which requires visitors to hike down a section of Ridge Road before leading down the escarpment to join the main trail. The Bruce Trail is a single-track footpath suitable only for hiking. This trail runs along the entire Niagara Escarpment from Niagara Falls to Tobermory. See the route here.
The Dofasco Trail begins south of the parking lot, across Ridge Road. It extends 11km east to the edge of Hamilton’s watershed. It is a packed earth trail that is fairly flat and suitable for walking, biking, and strollers with appropriate wheels. The main feature of this trail is the 2km boardwalk which runs through the Vinemount Swamp, the largest intact deciduous swamp in the City of Hamilton. See the route here.
There is a charge of $7.50 per vehicle to park at this location. Visitors need to purchase a ticket at the white machine by the garbage receptacles before proceeding to the exit gate. Scan the ticket to leave the parking lot. Visitors may use the ticket to access other HCA lots on the same day, but will not be able to reuse the ticket at the Devils Punchbowl Parking lot once they have left.
Flying drones is prohibited on all HCA lands. Professional movie shoots or commercial users may contact HCA main office to inquire about permits. Visit here for more information.
The conservation area is open from sunrise to sunset, year-round.