Webster's Falls

Spencer Gorge / Dundas / Waterdown, Ontario, Canada

About Webster’s Falls


Hiking Distance: almost roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2013-10-13
Date last visited: 2013-10-13

Waterfall Latitude: 43.27624
Waterfall Longitude: -79.98088

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Websters Falls (or Webster’s Falls) could very well be the city of Hamilton’s most famous and most visited waterfall.

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.

Websters_Falls_025_10132013 - Websters Falls
Websters Falls

Webster’s Falls was said to be 22m high and about 24m wide at its crest.

Thus, as you can see from the photo above, we can totally understand why this waterfall would be popular.

Experiencing Webster’s Falls

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 photo above).

However, as a result of numerous closures at the best viewing spots, we were misled into thinking that we could’ve experienced at least as much of the Webster’s Falls as what was circulated in the literature.

Websters_Falls_011_10132013 - Julie and Tahia checking out the Websters Falls from the Dobson-McKee Lookout
Julie and Tahia checking out the Websters Falls from the Dobson-McKee Lookout

Some of the literature and photos circulating about were from the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s own publishings as well as on the web in general.

Among the waterfalling experiences that this waterfall no longer offered during our October 2013 visit, this included an across-the-gorge view of both Websters Falls and the bridge above it (i.e. the Dobson-McKee Lookout).

It also included the famous stairway trail that would have led to the base of the Websters Falls.

In both instances these views were widely circulated about in the literature, and yet we didn’t get to experience them given the very limited accessibility during our visit.

Websters_Falls_054_10132013 - Looking towards a partial view of the brink of the Websters Falls
Looking towards a partial view of the brink of the Websters Falls

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.

Overabundance of caution?

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.

Albion_Falls_011_10122013 - The sanctioned view of Albion Falls also left a lot to be desired
The sanctioned view of Albion Falls also left a lot to be desired

It felt to us like with Webster’s Falls (as well as most of Hamilton’s other waterfalls) the authorities took the more conservative approach.

By this, they pretty much made 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.

Tews_Falls_011_10132013 - Tews Falls shared the same conservation area as that of Webster's Falls so the fee only had to be paid once to visit both waterfalls
Tews Falls shared the same conservation area as that of Webster’s Falls so the fee only had to be paid once to visit both waterfalls

At least this fee also worked with the nearby Tews Falls because they share the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area.

So if you already paid the fees for one of the waterfalls, you don’t have to pay again for the other.

Detailed Description of our Limited Webster’s Falls Walk

So what we were able to experience of Webster’s Falls was 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 (see directions below), we basically followed a well-established paved path flanking a large lawn area to the left of the bridge over Spencer Creek, which was just above the falls.

Websters_Falls_031_10132013 - This might have been the cleanest look of Webster's Falls from the Dobson-McKee Lookout that we were able to get, but it was nothing like the less obstructed views seen 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, but it was nothing like the less obstructed views seen in the literature

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.

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.

Websters_Falls_039_10132013 - Looking downstream from the Webster's Falls into the Spencer Gorge
Looking downstream from the Webster’s Falls into the Spencer Gorge

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 Websters Falls up close from its brink on the lookout on the other side of the bridge.

Websters_Falls_019_10132013 - Context of the Dobson-McKee Lookout and the lawn area adjacent to it
Context of the Dobson-McKee Lookout and the lawn area adjacent to it

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.

However, with this option denied to us, that was pretty much it for our visit to the falls.

Authorities

Websters Falls resides in the Spencer Gorge / Webster’s Falls Conservation Area in the City of Hamilton in the province of Ontario, Canada. It is administered by the Hamilton Conservation Authority. For information or inquiries as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Websters_Falls_005_10132013 - Looking back at the car park and payment kiosk backed by pretty Autumn colors
Websters_Falls_007_10132013 - 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 fencing
Websters_Falls_017_10132013 - The issue with the Dobson-McKee Lookout was that we never were able to get a clean look at Webster's Falls
Websters_Falls_020_10132013 - Beyond the pavement, this looked like the old trail along the top of the Spencer Gorge. One spur path branched off of here and led to what would've been the best across-the-gorge view of Webster's Falls
Websters_Falls_035_10132013 - Looking a little further downstream of Webster's Falls to show the depth of the Spencer Gorge besides the falls
Websters_Falls_037_10132013 - This was the Hamilton cop who was patrolling the trails looking for people hopping the barricades and going into now-forbidden areas around Webster's Falls
Websters_Falls_044_10132013 - Looking over the top of Webster's Falls from the cobblestone Spencer Creek Bridge

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To drive to Webster’s Falls from Hamilton, there are a couple of ways to get to the Hwy 6 north exit leading towards the town of Dundas.

The first driving route from Hamilton to 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.

Websters_Falls_002_10132013 - Looking back towards the parking lot for Webster's Falls
Looking back towards the parking lot for Webster’s Falls

Once on the Hwy 403 East, we’d continue for about 7km then take the Hwy 6 north exit.

The second driving route from Hamilton to Dundas

The other way would be to take the Hwy 6 north from western downtown Hamilton from one of its many onramps.

Then, we’d continue towards the Hwy 6 north exit, leaving the highway’s transition into becoming Hwy 403 east.

Continuing to the Webster’s Falls Parking Area

The Hwy 6 north exit leaves the freeway, which continues north for just under 3km towards its intersection with Hwy 5.

We turned left onto Hwy 5 and continued for about 7km towards Brock Rd.

Websters_Falls_064_10132013 - Another look back at the very busy parking lot, which required payment, for the Webster's Falls
Another look back at the very busy parking lot, which required payment, for the Webster’s Falls

Then, we turned left onto Brock Rd and continued for about 1.5km turning left onto Harvest Rd.

After about 400m on Harvest Rd, we turned right onto Short Rd, then we followed Short Rd for about 1km (becoming Fallsview Rd when the road bends) before arriving at the Websters Falls car park on the right.

We 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.

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

Trip Planning Resources


Nearby Accommodations




Tagged with: hamilton, ontario, canada, waterfall, city of waterfalls, spencer gorge, dundas, waterdown, toronto, dobson-mckee lookout, spencer creek



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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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