DeCew Falls

Niagara Greenbelt / St Catharines, Ontario, Canada

About DeCew Falls

Hiking Distance: almost roadside (top of falls only)
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2013-10-12
Date last visited: 2013-10-12

Waterfall Latitude: 43.11044
Waterfall Longitude: -79.26578

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DeCew Falls was a waterfall where we had quite a bit of trouble finding a way to get a good look at it. The photo you see at the top of this page came from inside the historical Morningstar Mill, which happened to be open the morning of our visit (which also just so happened to be during the long weekend of Canada’s Thanksgiving holiday). Our Waterfalls of Ontario book had a picture showing this 21m waterfall from its base, which was how we envisioned we’d be able to view the falls. Unfortunately, we didn’t count on the risks involved in trying to earn that view.

Instead, we had to settle for the subpar views from inside the mill as well as from just outside the mill where only the very top fraction of the waterfall could be seen. Given the unsatisfactory waterfalling experience, we had to give it a low score even though it would’ve scored much higher had we somehow gotten to view the waterfall from its base. At least from the view inside the Morningstar Mill, we also noticed another waterfall spilling into the same gorge though it was mostly obscured by foliage.

From the car park for the Morningstar Mill (see directions below), we walked past the mill complex towards a narrow opening in the fence. There was a lookout with a very partial view of the falls from next to the mill, but this view left much to be desired. Once we were past the opening in the fence, we then followed the Laura Secord Trail, which coincided with the Bruce Trail, as it followed along the rim of the gorge with chain-linked fences put up to prevent people from getting too close to the gorge edge.

After a few minutes of walking this trail, the fence went away, and then we encountered a very steep “path” that led towards the base of the gorge. It was definitely too difficult to do it with our daughter so I decided to go down partway to take a look at whether it would be doable. But with the muddiness of the terrain, the steepness (despite the ropes put in to help with the descent), and potential nasty consequences of a fall here, I didn’t make it past half way before I decided not to push my luck and go back up to the top of the gorge.

Little did we know (until after the fact) that we would have had an easier time continuing to walk along the Bruce Trail until we would reach the Lower DeCew Falls. Then, we would have to hike upstream from within the gorge to reach the view of DeCew Falls that was pictured in our Waterfalls of Ontario book. I guess that’ll have to wait for a return visit.

Finally, the Morningstar Mill was a pretty interesting exhibit in and of itself as we checked out the machinery involved to harness the power of moving water. Apparently, the mill only opens from 10am to 3pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. We were surprised at how popular this place was despite the difficulties in getting a satisfactory view of DeCew Falls. The price of admission was free though the staff here appreciated donations to keep this historical site preserved.

DeCew_Falls_001_10122013 - View of the Morningstar Mill from its car park
DeCew_Falls_005_10122013 - Partial view of DeCew Falls
DeCew_Falls_008_10122013 - Walking through the opening in the fence to get onto the Laura Secord Trail and/or the Bruce Trail
DeCew_Falls_009_10122013 - Looking back at the morning sun's rays cutting through the misty morning air
DeCew_Falls_010_10122013 - Julie and Tahia on the Bruce Trail alongside the fence as we were looking for a way to improve our view of DeCew Falls
DeCew_Falls_013_10122013 - Looking down at the very steep scramble to reach the base of the gorge
DeCew_Falls_014_10122013 - Although the bottom looked tantalizingly close in this photo, this was where I decided not to push my luck and go back up despite the rope that was here to assist me
DeCew_Falls_015_10122013 - Here's another contextual look at the steep scramble trying to convey just how steep it was
DeCew_Falls_019_10122013 - With the hideous fencing in the way, this was the most frontal view of DeCew Falls that I was going to get
DeCew_Falls_027_10122013 - Looking down at what appeared to be another waterfall
DeCew_Falls_028_10122013 - Inside one of the facilities at the Morningstar Mill
DeCew_Falls_034_10122013 - This was the closest view of DeCew Falls we could get, which came from inside the Morningstar Mill
DeCew_Falls_036_10122013 - Looking upstream of DeCew Falls towards another little waterfall as seen from inside the Morningstar Mill
DeCew_Falls_044_10122013 - There were quite a few historical artifacts inside the Morningstar Mill
DeCew_Falls_045_10122013 - This was the upstairs portion of another one of the Morningstar Mill buildings
DeCew_Falls_047_10122013 - Now the Morningstar Mill car park was very busy
DeCew_Falls_050_10122013 - This was an upper waterfall on a man-modified slide, which was just upstream from the Morningstar Mill across the road


From Niagara Falls on the Canada side, we took Stanley Street north to Hwy 420. Shortly after the Hwy 420 merged onto the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW), we exited at the ramp for Thorold Stone Rd and turned left to go onto that road. After about 5.3km, Thorold Stone Rd became Hwy 58. Then, at a little less than 3.2km from the start of the Hwy, we took the off-ramp towards St Davis Rd in the town of St Catharines.

Once we were on the St Davis Rd, we took it for about 0.5km towards its intersection with Merritville Highway. We turned left at this intersection, drove about 1km, then turned right onto DeCew Rd. After a little over a mile on DeCew Rd, the car park for the Morningstar Mill was on our right. This car park filled up fast so it was wise for us to get a relatively early start here.

For context, St Catharines was 21km (under 30 minutes drive) northwest of Niagara Falls, 57km (45 minutes drive) east of Hamilton, and 112km (over an hour drive) south of Toronto.

Checking out a partial view of the falls from near the mill

Checking out the views from inside the mill by the top of the falls

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Tagged with: niagara, greenbelt, st catharines, saint catharines, ontario, lake, canada, waterfall, morningstar mill

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