Our Balls Falls waterfalling experience could very well have been one of the most unusual and circumstantial experiences that we could remember. After having read the literature in preparation of our upcoming visit, we expected a pretty benign and straightforward self-tour of what should have been a very easy waterfall (or two) to see. Instead, we found ourselves going into what turned out to be a major Thanksgiving weekend festival that was pretty much a throwback to a good old fashioned country fair. Of course, this strange bit of timing meant our visit to the falls costed us $6 per adult (it would only cost a small parking fee under normal circumstances), and strangely enough, we had a more difficult time finding the waterfalls given all the maze of tents and displays somewhat obscuring what otherwise would have been obvious trails to take.
So based on our unusual experience, the writeup on this page will probably be atypical and very different from what you can expect on a visit here. Nonetheless, we did get to see what turned out to be the Lower Balls Falls from the main viewpoint, and I also managed to get to the base of this 25m waterfall (somewhat) though that wasn’t easy. Given all the festival commotion, we weren’t able to visit the other waterfall (also known as the Upper Balls Falls) so we can’t say much about what that was like.
From the main car park for the Lower Balls Falls (see directions below), the main viewing area was a short walk across the bridge then to the left heading downstream along Twenty Mile Creek. The view from this area was a somewhat angled view where some of the foliage might be in the way depending on where in this typically busy area we were standing (see photo at the top of this page). I’d imagine this would probably be it for a typical visit as most of the falls and the steep gorge were visible from here while the scene was decorated in foliage blooming with Autumn colors. But given all the festival activities, we didn’t know about this viewing area until much later after I made an attempt to find the way to the base of this waterfall then managed to get lost on the way back out of the gorge. The difficulty rating didn’t reflect this scramble to the base of the falls since it ultimately was not necessary.
For the route to the base of the falls from the main car park, instead of crossing the bridge, we went straight onto the Bruce Trail on the opposite side of a grassy opening. That trail eventually led to a road besides a large agricultural field. After a few minutes of walking this road, we then saw a more primitive and quiet trail re-entering the bush fronted by trees with white blazes on them. Those white hashes were in fact markers for the Bruce Trail. When we realized that this trail was not suitable for our daughter, that was when I went solo while Julie and Tahia went into the festival to do some childrens activities.
After a short stint downhill on the Bruce Trail, I then saw some faint trail junction with some more white hashes on trees, but that detour on the right eventually took me to a very overgrown area where the trail was no longer well-defined. So when I continued a short distance further on the Bruce Trail, I saw another more obvious path on the right though it wasn’t labeled. As I followed this trail downhill, I started to notice blue blazes. Eventually, this trail took me into the base of the gorge, but once again it seemed like the trail disappeared once I reached the bottom.
At that point, I pretty much scrambled alongside the creek. The scramble was quite overgrown and rough, and the whole time I was doubting whether I was going the correct way or not. Eventually, I reached a somewhat satisfactory frontal view of the Lower Balls Falls from its front, but it was so overgrown here that it left more to be desired. Unfortunately, the scramble got way too rough for me to keep going (though I’m sure I could’ve kept going if I was really determined) so I was content with the view before heading back to the Bruce Trail.
Unfortunately, that was when the scramble to regain the blue-blazed trail eluded me for nearly an hour. Eventually after some searching and backtracking, I managed to scramble sideways along a slope until I finally found the blue-blazed trail again. At that point, it was smooth sailing back to the Balls Falls Festival. But given my tired and sweaty state along with the fact that it was getting late in the afternoon with a few more waterfalls to see in Hamilton, I decided not to pursue the Upper Balls Falls.
From DeCew Falls in St Catharines, we headed east on Decew Rd towards the Merritville Hwy. Then, we turned left onto Merritville Hwy, then turned right onto St Davids Rd. We then took St Davids Rd to the on ramp for Hwy 56 / 406 north. Next, we followed Hwy 406 north for about 6km towards the 4th Ave exit in St Catharines. After over 8km on 4th Ave, we turned left onto Jordan Rd. Then, we turned right onto King St (after 1.2km), left onto St Johns Dr (400m), then a left onto 19th St and a quick right onto Glen Rd. After about 1.3km, turn right off of Glen Rd into the Balls Falls Conservation Area on 6th Ave. The car park would be near the bridge upstream from Balls Falls.
If you’re coming from Niagara Falls, take Stanley Ave north onto Hwy 420 west. After 2km on the Hwy 420, take the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) north and follow it for 27km to the off-ramp at the town of Lincoln. Turn left from the off ramp, then make another left to go onto Victoria Ave. Follow Victoria Ave for about 6km to 6th Ave and the entrance to the Balls Falls Conservation Area on the left. Follow 6th Ave to the car park near the bridge above the falls.
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