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: -79.26466

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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.

It was one case where we wound up settling for subpar views of it without realizing that there was a longer path to get to a better view of it.

DeCew_Falls_032_10122013 - DeCew Falls from inside the Morningstar Mill
DeCew Falls from inside the Morningstar Mill

Instead, the photo you see above 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 when we attempted to pursue it.

Settling and Regrets

Indeed, settling for the subpar views from inside the mill as well as from just outside the mill only allowed us to see a small fraction of the waterfall.

DeCew_Falls_004_10122013 - Very partial view of the top of DeCew Falls from just outside the Morningstar Mill
Very partial view of the top of DeCew Falls from just outside the Morningstar Mill

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.

But in hindsight, I had a feeling that we need to come back here and have a better experience.

Description of our Misadventure

From the car park for the Morningstar Mill (see directions below), we walked past the mill complex towards a narrow opening in the fence.

DeCew_Falls_019_10122013 - Fencing and overgrowth made our DeCew Falls experience unsatisfactory because that's what we thought was available to us
Fencing and overgrowth made our DeCew Falls experience unsatisfactory because that’s what we thought was available to us

There was a lookout with a very partial view of the DeCew 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.

This trail continued to 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.

DeCew_Falls_014_10122013 - The very steep and difficult scramble to get to the bottom of DeCew Falls where someone had set up a rope, but even that was still too sketchy to try
The very steep and difficult scramble to get to the bottom of DeCew Falls where someone had set up a rope, but even that was still too sketchy to try

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 decided not to push my luck.

Heck, I didn’t even make it past half way point of the descent when I scrambled back up to the top of the gorge.

What We Should Have Done

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.

DeCew_Falls_010_10122013 - In hindsight, the trail that we took that followed the fence actually kept going further downhill beyond the fencing, and it didn't require the sketchy rope-assisted descent which I'm sure the authorities wouldn't allow anyways
In hindsight, the trail that we took that followed the fence actually kept going further downhill beyond the fencing, and it didn’t require the sketchy rope-assisted descent which I’m sure the authorities wouldn’t allow anyways

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.

It still sits on my mind as one of the regrets of our Autumn trip to New England and Canada in 2013.

The Morningstar Mill

Finally, the Morningstar Mill was a pretty interesting exhibit in and of itself.

DeCew_Falls_036_10122013 - Looking upstream at a modified waterfall within the contraptions for the Morningstar Mill, which was just upstream of DeCew Falls
Looking upstream at a modified waterfall within the contraptions for the Morningstar Mill, which was just upstream of DeCew Falls

We checked out the machinery involved to harness the power of moving water, which was on display there.

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.

Authorities

DeCew Falls resides near St Catharines in the province of Ontario, Canada. I don’t know if it is administered by the local government or if it’s cared for by the Morningstar Mill. For information or inquiries as well as current conditions, you can try to visit the Morningstar Mill website.

DeCew_Falls_001_10122013 - View of the Morningstar Mill and walk to DeCew Falls from its car park
DeCew_Falls_003_10122013 - Looking towards some beautifully-reflective pond just upstream from some mill contraptions belonging to the Morningstar Mill
DeCew_Falls_005_10122013 - Partial view of the top of DeCew Falls seen from just outside the Morningstar Mill, which left a lot to be desired
DeCew_Falls_008_10122013 - Julie walking through the opening in the fence to get onto the Laura Secord Trail and/or the Bruce Trail in pursuit of a better experience of DeCew Falls
DeCew_Falls_009_10122013 - Looking back at the morning sun's rays cutting through the misty morning air at DeCew Falls and the Morningstar Mill
DeCew_Falls_013_10122013 - Looking down at the very steep scramble to reach the base of the gorge in the hopes of improving the DeCew Falls experience. Little did we realize that there was actually another way to do this. Even the branches laid across here suggested that this was not the way to do it.
DeCew_Falls_015_10122013 - Here's another contextual look at the steep scramble trying to convey just how steep it was, but in hindsight, it was also unnecessary to do in order to access the bottom of DeCew Falls
DeCew_Falls_027_10122013 - Looking down at what appeared to be another waterfall nearby the DeCew Falls within the gorge that we didn't figure out how to access
DeCew_Falls_028_10122013 - Inside one of the facilities at the Morningstar Mill, which happened to be open for the public during our visit
DeCew_Falls_034_10122013 - This was the closest view of DeCew Falls we could get, which came from inside the Morningstar Mill
DeCew_Falls_042_10122013 - Another look downstream over the calm pond at the Morningstar Mill just upstream from the brink of DeCew Falls
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_050_10122013 - This was an upper waterfall on a man-modified slide, which was just upstream from the Morningstar Mill across the road

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To drive to DeCew Falls 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.

DeCew_Falls_047_10122013 - The liming parking at the Morningstar Mill
The liming parking at the Morningstar Mill

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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