Websters Falls

Spencer Gorge / Dundas / near Waterdown / Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Rating: 3.5     Difficulty: 1
Webster's Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



[Back to top]

INTRODUCTION

Websters Falls (or Webster's Falls) could very well be the city of Hamilton's most famous and most visited waterfall. And as you can see from the photo at the top of this page, it was totally understandable why that would be the case. Given its block-type shape, it reminded Julie and I of a smaller version of the Huangguoshu Waterfall in China except we couldn't go behind it in this case. Webster's Falls was said to be 22m high and about 24m wide at its crest.

Our experience with this waterfall was a mixed bag. On the one hand, we got to see most of the falls from what was left of the official lookouts that remained accessible to the public (especially the Dobson-McKee Lookout yielding the view at the top of this page). However, given all the literature and photos circulating about on the Hamilton Conservation Authority's own publishings as well as on the web, we were misled into thinking that we could've experienced much more about the falls than what the reality ended up being. The culprit was the the numerous closures and infrastructure put in place to ensure that the best ways to experience the falls would not be possible (barring further risk to life and limb).

Among the waterfalling experiences that this waterfall no longer offered during our October 2013 visit were:

  • an across-the-gorge view of both Websters Falls and the bridge above it (similar to the Dobson-McKee Lookout but much more open and satisfying)
  • the famous stairway trail leading to the base of the Websters Falls (which yielded most of the photos in the literature)

This might have been the cleanest look of Webster's Falls from the Dobson-McKee Lookout that we were able to get It was for that reason that what should have been a waterfall that would easily rate as high as Albion Falls didn't. That said, there was a bit of rebelliousness at that other waterfall as many people ignored the closure of the trail to its base. However, in the case of Websters Falls, there was a Hamilton cop who was patrolling the area to make sure no one hopped the barricades and went to the now-forbidden areas of the falls.

While I can appreciate the conservation efforts pertaining to the waterfalls in and around Hamilton, we've learned from our experiences at other waterfalls around the world that authorities need to balance a satisfactory experience with conservation. It felt to us like with this waterfall (as well as most of Hamilton's other waterfalls) the authorities took the more conservative approach by making just about all the best viewing spots off limits with the alternatives being far less than what drew us here in the first place. If more money would need to be collected to ensure that this balance would be struck, then so be it. But paying $10 for a very limited and subpar viewing experience left a little bit of a sour taste.

So what we were able to experience were basically from the aforementioned Dobson-McKee Lookout as well as the brink of the falls at the entrance to the now-closed stairway trail. From the car park, we basically followed a well-established paved path flanking a large lawn area to the left of the bridge over Spencer Creek above the falls. This lawn area seemed to be an ideal place for a picnic or family outing under warmer and sunnier weather than what we experienced. Beyond the end of the pavement, it looked like the trail kept going further down the rim of the gorge, and this was where we saw where the best cross-gorge view of the falls would have been except there was a tall metal fence erected to ensure access to that outcrop would not be possible.

Going towards the bridge over Spencer Creek, we then crossed over it into the Websters Falls Park where further upstream were more bridges and trails as well as remnants of the industrial past of this area throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Spencer Creek Bridge held some historical significance in that it was built back in the 1930s, then it became unusable and had to be closed to the public until a local community group (the Optimist Club of Greenville) undertook the restoration efforts of the bridge eventually re-opening it to the public on Canada Day in 2000.

We were able to experience the falls up close from its brink on the lookout on the other side of the bridge, where we could also look downstream across the gorge towards the people checking out the falls from the Dobson-McKee Lookout. This general viewing area was also where the access to the closed-off Stairway Trail started. So with this option denied to us, that was pretty much it for our visit to the falls.

Finally, there was one bit of good news where we were able to save a little on the $10 parking fee because we had visited Tews Falls earlier in the day. Thus, we didn't have to pay another $10 to park by Webster's Falls since they were all part of the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area.




[Back to top]

PHOTO JOURNAL

Nearby Webster's Falls was the impressive Tews Falls, which could very well be Hamilton's tallest waterfallNearby Webster's Falls was the impressive Tews Falls, which could very well be Hamilton's tallest waterfall
The Dundas and Waterdown area (where Webster's Falls was located) was the last part of Hamilton that we visited before going to TorontoThe Dundas and Waterdown area (where Webster's Falls was located) was the last part of Hamilton that we visited before going to Toronto
Our visit to Toronto just so happened to be during the Canadian Thanksgiving, which was a festive occasion as families were out enjoying outdoor concerts while much of the city didn't have to workOur visit to Toronto just so happened to be during the Canadian Thanksgiving, which was a festive occasion as families were out enjoying outdoor concerts while much of the city didn't have to work
The busy car park beyond the payment kioskThe busy car park beyond the payment kiosk

Looking back at the car park and payment kiosk with pretty Autumn colorsLooking back at the car park and payment kiosk with pretty Autumn colors

The area was so family friendly that we let our daughter walk on her own though we did make sure we held her hand in the few spots where there wasn't any fencingThe area was so family friendly that we let our daughter walk on her own though we did make sure we held her hand in the few spots where there wasn't any fencing

This was the Dobson-McKee Lookout, which was now the de facto spot where we could get a somewhat satisfactory frontal view of Webster's FallsThis was the Dobson-McKee Lookout which was now the de facto spot where we could get a somewhat satisfactory frontal view of Websters Falls

The issue with the Dobson-McKee Lookout was that we never were able to get a clean look at Webster's FallsThe issue with the Dobson-McKee Lookout was that we were never able to get a clean look at Websters Falls

Looking back at the paved walkway flanked by benches and picnic tables as well as a large lawn areaLooking back at the paved walkway flanked by benches and picnic tables as well as a large lawn area

Beyond the pavement, this looked like the old trail along the top of the Spencer GorgeBeyond the pavement, this looked like the old trail along the top of the Spencer Gorge. One spur path branching off of here led to what would've been the best across-the-gorge view of Webster's Falls

Looking a little further downstream of Webster's Falls to show the depth of the Spencer Gorge besides the fallsLooking a little further downstream of Webster's Falls to show the depth of the Spencer Gorge besides the falls

This was the Hamilton cop who was patrolling the trails looking for people hopping the barricades and going into now-forbidden areasThis was the Hamilton cop who was patrolling the trails looking for people hopping the barricades and going into now-forbidden areas.

Looking into the gorge downstream from Webster's FallsLooking into the gorge downstream from Webster's Falls

Looking over the top of Webster's Falls from the cobblestone Spencer Creek BridgeLooking over the top of Webster's Falls from the cobblestone Spencer Creek Bridge

Looking over the brink of Webster's FallsLooking over the brink of Webster's Falls

It was busy when we arrived at the car park for Webster's Falls, but it was even busier when we returned to the car park during our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend visit in October 2013It was busy when we arrived at the car park for Webster's Falls, but it was even busier when we returned to the car park during our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend visit in October 2013


[Back to top]

VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Checking out a partial view of the front of the falls before sweeping around to the picnic area and walkway behind the overview


Looking around from the brink of the falls


Upstream to downstream sweep from the bridge above the falls


[Back to top]

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From Hamilton, there are a couple of ways to get to the Hwy 6 north exit leading towards the town of Dundas.

The first way would be to take the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) along the shores of Lake Ontario towards its junction with Hwy 403 west. This would bypass the City of Hamilton on its east side. Once on the Hwy 403 East, continue for about 7km then take the Hwy 6 north exit.

The other way would be to take the Hwy 6 north from western downtown Hamilton from one of its many onramps. Then, continue towards the Hwy 6 north exit, leaving the highway's transition into becoming Hwy 403 east.

The Hwy 6 north exit leaves the freeway, which continues north for just under 3km towards its intersection with Hwy 5. Turn left onto Hwy 5 and continue for about 7km towards Brock Rd. then, turn left onto Brock Rd and continue for about 1.5km turning left onto Harvest Rd. After about 400m on Harvest Rd, turn right onto Short Rd, then follow Short Rd for about 1km (becoming Fallsview Rd when the road bends) arriving at the Websters Falls car park on the right.

We were also could have come to the car park from Tews Falls, which was merely another 400m east of the intersection of Harvest Rd and Short Rd.

For context, Hamilton was 70km (an hour drive) southwest of Toronto, 73km (under an hour drive) west of Niagara Falls, and 309km (over 3 hours drive) east of Detroit, Michigan.




[Back to top]

ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




[Back to top]

MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





[Back to top]

TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




[Back to top]

TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





[Back to top]

NEARBY WATERFALLS




[Back to top]

RELATED PAGES



Have You Been To This Waterfall?

Share your experience!

Click here to see visitor comments for this waterfall

Click here to see visitor comments for other waterfalls that we've visited in this region

Click here to go to the Comments Main Page

You can use the form below, but if you find our host's interface too troublesome to use (especially if you're trying to upload photos), then just send a text submission anyways using the form, but also let us know that you'd like to attach photos. If you've provided an email address via the form, then we can reply back acknowledging your request, and you can then reply to that email with your photo attachments. We're very sorry about this, but there's not much we can do about SBI's terrible interface.



[Back to top]

[Go to the Ontario Waterfalls Page]

[Go to the Canada Page]


[Return from Websters Falls to the World of Waterfalls Home Page]