Spencer Gorge Conservation Area
Reservations have now closed for the season. Parking lots at Webster Falls and Tew Falls are now open on a first-come, first serve basis. There is an auto gate at Tew Falls, and a pay and display machine at Webster Falls. Passholders now receive admission as usual to the areas.
Dundas Peak and Tew Falls Experience
Parking lot located at 581 Harvest Road, Dundas
Your two-hour hike experience will start at Tew Falls, which at 41 metres is just a few metres shorter than Niagara Falls.
There are two platforms just off the trail that allow visitors to get a spectacular view of the falls and gorge.
Continue on your hike along the Niagara Escarpment to the Dundas Peak, offering a stunning view of the escarpment and Dundas and Hamilton.
A 1.8 km loop trail system allows for physical distancing on narrow trails.
Your two-hour hike experience features a hike along a trail rich in history, as you approach Webster Falls, a 22-metre classical curtain waterfall that is one of Hamilton’s most iconic waterfalls.
Travel across the beautifully restored cobblestone bridge that crosses Spencer Creek, to the accessible Dobson-McKee lookout that offers stunning views of the gorge and vistas.
There are areas in the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area that are fenced off and closed to the public for safety reasons. Never climb or otherwise bypass this safety fencing. The slopes and edges of the escarpment can be unstable and pose a fall hazard. If a user falls in an escarpment area, the only way to assist them out of the area is through a rope rescue by the Hamilton Fire Department, who are trained to carry out these rescues safely. There have been serious injuries to visitors that have attempted to access the gorge area.
- The most important safety rule in the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area is to stay on the trails at all times.
- Keep well back from the edge of the gorge and escarpment areas, at least a body length. Adults should keep children and pets well away from these areas.
- Please note that there is NO access available to the bottom of the falls.
- No BBQing is permitted
- Pets are permitted in the area, but must be on leash. Please clean up after your pet
- Pack out what you pack in. Trash and recycling containers are provided in these areas. Do not litter, or leave garbage outside of the containers.
Please note: there is no trail linkage between Tew Falls and Webster Falls.
- Trails are recreational trails, consisting of packed earth in most areas.
- Visitors must stay on the trail at all times for their own safety and the ecological health of the conservation area.
- Good walking or hiking shoes should be worn to explore the trails.
- Keep an eye out for tree roots, loose rocks and other walking hazards
- The trails are on rugged terrain; most are not suitable for wheelchairs or strollers. There is a staircase on the trail from Tew Falls to Dundas Peak.
- A wheelchair-accessible lookout and paved trail area are available at Webster Falls.
- Respect and share the trail with other users. Follow directional signage on the loop trail at Dundas Peak
- Respect neighbouring landowners by staying off private property, maintaining privacy for landowners, and avoiding excessive noise.
The Spencer Gorge Natural Area is made up of a southern-facing section of the Niagara Escarpment which overlooks the former town of Dundas. Spencer Creek and Logie’s Creek (also known as East Spencer Creek) flow through this area. Spencer Gorge is the central feature of this area. It is a y-shaped gorge that clearly illustrates the process of waterfall recession, with at least 10 stacked bowl-shaped basins that mark earlier positions of waterfalls along the gorge. The bowls decrease in size as you head upstream, marking reduced water flows. The oldest bowls measure between 190 to over 350 metres and about 60 metres deep, making them comparable to the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls.
On the steep cliffs of the gorge, eastern white cedars grow from crevices in the rock strata. Some of these twisted trees grow slowly because of limited nutrients and water. However, they can attain a great age. Two of them are over 500 years old. They grow almost side-by-side on the cliff beside Webster Falls.
The gorge is a distinctive landform and shows a near-complete section of the bedrock formations of the southern Niagara Escarpment. The vegetation in the area provides habitat for many rare and uncommon species. Over 500 different plants have been found by botanists, including several significant species: Canada Milk-vetch, Downy Fox Glove, Bearded Shorthusk, Kalm’s Brome, Tall Brome Grass, Canada Brome, Low Bindweed, American Chestnut, Hackberry, Slender Cliff-brake, Spotted Spurge, Naked-flowered Tick-trefoil, Goldie’s Wood Fern, Canada Wild-rye, River Bank Wild-rye, Black Huckleberry, Wandlike Bush-clover, Tulip Tree, Red Mulberry, Slender Satin Grass, Broadleaf Panic Grass, Switch Grass, Smooth Cliff-brake, Whorled Milkwort, Jack Aspen, Hairy Buttercup, Willow-leaved Dock, Little Bluestem, Sharp-leaved Goldenrod, Indian Grass, Tall Cord Grass, Rue-anemone and Perfoliate Bellwort.
Monarch butterflies have been recorded here as well as Eastern Milk Snakes, the Louisiana Waterthrush and the Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Spencer Gorge Conservation Area is a popular spot for viewing fall colour due to the wide array of plant and tree species in the area.
Tew Falls (Alternative names: Hopkin’s Falls & Tunis Falls)
Height: 41 metres/125 feet
Width: 9 metres/27.4 feet
Source: Logie’s Creek
Logie's Creek tumbles 41 metres over the escarpment to form Tew Falls, just a few metres less in height than Niagara Falls. Though the flow of Logie's is substantially less that the main branch of Spencer Creek, the sheer height of the falls is what makes it such a stunning sight. There are two platforms just off the Bruce Trail that allow visitors to get a spectacular view of the falls and gorge below.
Tew Falls got its name from the Tew family. Johnson Tew came to Canada in the year 1874. He purchased Lot 12, Concession 2 in Flamborough Township included his land, the falls and ravine. He was elected a Municipal Councilor in 1905 and was Reeve of the Township of Flamborough for seven years between 1913 and 1926. He was elected Warden of Wentworth County of Wentworth for the year 1924. Johnson died on March 12th, 1948. The Spencer Creek Conservation Authority - forerunner of the HCA - bought the land from the family in the 1960’s.
One of the most stunning waterfalls in the Hamilton area, Webster Falls is formed by the main branch of Spencer Creek. One of two waterfalls within the Spencer Gorge, it is a beautiful, classical waterfall. With a crest of 30 metres it is also the largest in the region. The main falls has two overhanging drops with a short break in between.
The Webster family purchased the waterfalls and surrounding land in 1819. Their manor still stands on Webster's Falls Road, accessible only by foot from this area. Family gravestones have been preserved in a small area just off the parking lot. The cobblestone bridge crossing Spencer Creek just before the waterfall was built in 1936. The bridge became in serious need of costly repairs and was slated for demolition. The Greensville Optimists raised the necessary funds and reopened the bridge to the public July 1st, 2000.
There are several stories about Webster Falls in local folklore. One tells of the sad fate of an princess and her lover before Europeans arrived in the area. The princess daughter of an Attiwendaron chieftan lived with her father near present-day Westover. She was promised in marriage to a young chief of the Erie Nation. She, however, had fallen in love with a high-ranking man from the Seneca Nation. The girl's father threatened to imprison her unless she agreed to marry the chosen man, so the legend has it that the young lovers, seeing the hopelessness of their situation, decided that life without each other was impossible. Locked in each other's arms, they jumped over the precipice to meet their death in the rock pool below. When the water level is high and the air is filled with a silvery mist from the full moon, legend has it that the princess and her lover can be seen to rise to the edge of the precipice, where they again pledge their endless love.