Blog

Here's where you'll find a collection of my photography related thoughts, from photo excursion summaries to hints and tips. 

 

Owen Sound waterfalls: Jones Falls

Jones Falls is a real hidden gem.  And it doesn’t appear to get that busy either…at least it wasn’t busy when I was there!  Jones Falls is located inside the Pottawatomi Conservation Area, just minutes outside Owen Sound.  The parking area can be found off of Highway 6, just north of Highway 21 (10th Street W).  The trail to get to the waterfalls starts from the parking lot and goes through a forested area. The hike is quite an easy one, but the trail is a little bit rocky in some areas, and there are exposed tree roots. After a rainfall, I imagine it would be a bit slippery and muddy.  It’s a fairly quick hike to the waterfall area, being appx. 400m from the parking area. 

The trail also follows alongside the Pottawatomi River so in some areas, the trail will bring you steps away from the river.  As you get closer to the waterfalls, you’ll come across a fork in the trail.  Taking the fork to the right and then crossing over the footbridge, you’ll reach the lookout to the falls from the top of the escarpment. The lookout is nestled among the trees and gives a nice birds-eye view overlooking the falls. If you take the fork to the left, you’ll come across a side-trail on the right side of the trail which will lead you down to the bottom of the falls.  The side-trail is easy to miss, so you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for it.  The side-trail opening is located just after you pass a rock wall.  This rock wall is actually the start of the side-trail to the bottom, with the side-trail passing through a cut-out path in this rock wall.  There was a wooden sign on one of the trees by the opening too, but it didn’t look like the typical trail signs or markings so not sure if it’s something permanently there or not.

The path through the rock wall is a bit steep, but it’s a fairly short climb down to the bottom.  Then, it’s a short and easy walk right up to the falls.  The footing to the falls is rocky though and there are many loose rocks along the way, as you would expect to find along a riverbed.  The time of year may determine how close to the falls you can get.  Typically, the water levels are lower in the late summer, so you can get a lot closer as the waterfalls are not as full as usual.  The photos I posted are from August 2016, which really shows the low water levels.

Jones Falls (1/10 sec, f/11, 100 ISO, 24mm - 3 image panorama)

Jones Falls (1/10 sec, f/11, 100 ISO, 24mm - 3 image panorama)

Pottawatomi River (1/10 sec, f/11, 100 ISO, 85mm)

Pottawatomi River (1/10 sec, f/11, 100 ISO, 85mm)

Jones Falls from the lookout (1/30 sec, f/11, 100 ISO, 42mm)

Jones Falls from the lookout (1/30 sec, f/11, 100 ISO, 42mm)

Looking up the side-trail from the bottom (1/50 sec, f/5.6, 1250 ISO, 24mm)

Looking up the side-trail from the bottom (1/50 sec, f/5.6, 1250 ISO, 24mm)

Need a place to stop on the way to Owen Sound? Check out these waterfalls: Eugenia Falls

Eugenia Falls is not as back country as Hoggs Falls was.  Located in Flesherton a quick drive from Hoggs Falls, you can easily find the parking area at the end of Pellister St.  Getting to the falls from the parking area is a quick 5 minute walk, with the trails following along the cliff edge at the top of the escarpment.  The escarpment is extremely tall, with the falls plunging 30 metres (100 feet) down to the valley below. 

Following the trail will get you to the areas that overlook the falls from both sides of the escarpment.  Following the trail upstream to the river crossover to come back along the other side of the falls is probably a 500m walk along the trail.  Given how low the water levels were when I was there, it was relatively safe to go through an opening in the fencing and walk out onto the rocks in the river at the top of the falls.  The trail on the opposite side of the falls is a much rougher terrain in comparison.  The limestone remains of the Eugenia Tunnel can also be found on the opposite side of the river.  This tunnel was built as part of a hydro-electric project in the early 1900s.  The company behind the project went bankrupt however, and all that remains today is the tunnel façade.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to explore any ways of going down to the bottom of the falls.  Apparently, there is a steep path that does lead down to the bottom of the falls, along with another less demanding part of the Bruce Trail that leads to the bottom of the falls.  That round trip hike would take around 3 hours to do and would include a steep climb on the way back.

Unlike Hoggs Falls, parking here isn’t free.  You can only pay for parking by using the “MacKay Pay” mobile app, or on the web, printing the receipt and placing it on your dashboard.  There are no parking attendants, nor are there any automated machines to make payment for the parking.  Near the parking area is a pavilion where you can rest your feet and break for lunch, and there is also a Memorial Cenotaph by the parking area too.

Eugenia Falls (1/80 sec, f/18, 100 ISO, 26mm)

Eugenia Falls (1/80 sec, f/18, 100 ISO, 26mm)

Eugenia Tunnell (1/13 sec, f/11, 400 ISO, 24mm)

Eugenia Tunnell (1/13 sec, f/11, 400 ISO, 24mm)

Eugenia Falls (1/250 sec, f/22, 100 ISO, 32mm)

Eugenia Falls (1/250 sec, f/22, 100 ISO, 32mm)

Need a place to stop on the way to Owen Sound? Check out these waterfalls: Hoggs Falls

Nothings says “country” like driving off the main road, on to a gravel road and into a small, gravel parking lot surrounded by trees…not to mention, barely any mobile phone service (I never heard of “extended coverage” before).  You could say that Hoggs Falls is a hidden gem on the Bruce Trail in Flesherton.  Off the beaten path, the parking lot isn’t the easiest to find but given you’ll be driving on a gravel road, you won’t be going fast enough to drive by it. 

The trail to get to the falls is fairly easy to walk and it follows the river downstream to the falls area.  The trail is mostly flat, but there are sections where there are a few short but steep sections to climb.  Getting to the falls was fairly quick as it’s only a 5 minute walk from the parking lot.  The trail leads you by the top of the waterfalls, and there are several openings among the trees to view the falls near the edge of rock wall that overlooks the lower river. 

The rock wall is around 10-15 feet high and at one of the openings, I was surprised to find a rope cable secured to one of the trees, which extends down to lower river area where you can view the falls from the bottom.  The rock wall also has foot-holds carved into it, which makes the climb down to the bottom easier.  The climb is still challenging since not only is it a vertical climb up and down, the foot-holds are spaced far enough that you need the rope cable to help pull you back up to the top.

Boyne River upstream from Hoggs Falls (1/25 sec, f/11, 125 ISO, 24mm)

Boyne River upstream from Hoggs Falls (1/25 sec, f/11, 125 ISO, 24mm)

Overlooking Hoggs Falls (1/6 sec, f/11, 100 ISO, 35mm)

Overlooking Hoggs Falls (1/6 sec, f/11, 100 ISO, 35mm)

Hoggs Falls (1/6 sec, f/11, 100 ISO, 24mm)

Hoggs Falls (1/6 sec, f/11, 100 ISO, 24mm)

Waterfalls of the North

Owen Sound Bay (6 sec, f/18, 100 ISO, 24mm)

Owen Sound Bay (6 sec, f/18, 100 ISO, 24mm)

Windmill farm (1/125 sec, f/13, 100 ISO, 45mm)

Windmill farm (1/125 sec, f/13, 100 ISO, 45mm)

700 kilometers. 10 waterfall locations.  That made for a busy, but enjoyable few days at the end of August.  The weather was perfect, for the most part.  On a few nights, the heavy clouds and rain kept me from sunset or astronomical shooting but thankfully, I was able to capture a great sunset on my first night in Owen Sound.  After driving along the eastern shoreline, I stumbled on a gravel parking area that was next to a public boat launch.  It turned out to be a great, quiet spot with an expansive view over Owen Sound Bay.  Aside from a few boaters coming and going, there were only two other photographers there.  

Over the course of the week, I also found a few unexpected spots that I couldn't help but stop at.  One of those spots was a windmill farm that came out of nowhere, among the regional farmland outside of Shelburne on my way up north.  I had to turn off and find a spot to get a few shots.  After 15 minutes of driving through the side roads, I found a grass “pocket” off the road that I was able to pull my car into, which was right at the edge of one of many cornfields.  It felt like being in one of those movies that are set in the old country towns...deserted roads, corn fields as far as you can see, and not a soul anywhere except for a couple on the porch of their farm house that was across the street from where I parked.

As for the many waterfall locations, they covered the whole range from good to disappointing.  And that's not accounting for the water conditions. Unfortunately, going out so late in a hot, dry summer season, the water levels were low which made the cascades of the falls less spectacular than they typically are. A couple of locations (as if 10 in one trip wasn't enough!) I wasn't able to get to.  Indian Falls, which is located just to the north of Owen Sound along the west shore of the Bay, was totally dry!  I was keeping tabs on the websites for the various locations and the one for Indian Falls advised that there hasn't been any water flowing since early August...disappointing since it was one of the larger waterfalls on my list, being 15 metres high.  The other location that I didn't get to was Holstein Dam in the small town of Holstein (of course), just north of Mt. Forest. Not because there weren't any falls like at Indian Falls, but because I couldn't find the Dam falls (pun intended)!  A lack of signage in the park where the falls were located to direct you to where the falls actually were, and no parking in the park either...at least none that was legal.  The only spot I could pull the car over was clearly marked with no parking signs, and I didn't want to risk stopping there not knowing whether the walk to the falls was 2 minutes or 20 minutes away.  Here’s the list of waterfalls that I visited:

I plan on doing a writing up of the waterfall locations that I visited.  Keep checking back to find out more about these different waterfalls of the north.

Waterfalls around Toronto but not Niagara? Absolutely!

If I asked you to name a waterfall in the Toronto area other than Niagara Falls, could you? What if I told you there were at least a dozen of them, all within a 1-2 hour drive? They may not be as large or well known as Niagara Falls but they do have a great charm being nestled among hiking trails of the Bruce Trail on the Niagara Escarpment, and not feeling like the "tourist trap" that Niagara Falls can sometimes feel like. Probably the better known of these other waterfalls are the ones at the Elora Gorge. 

I found time to visit Webster Falls and Tews Falls, which are two of at least half a dozen waterfalls in the Hamilton area.  Unfortunately, as you can tell by the pictures, the waterfalls right now are more like a trickle due to the low water levels that our drought-like summer has caused.  Usually, the cascades are much more spectacular.  There are also at least another half dozen of them up in the Owen Sound / Blue Mountains area.

My inspiration for discovering these waterfalls was my recent trip to Iceland, where I spent a week with a group of other great photographers (big thanks to Improve Photography, in particular Jim and Nick, for the amazing workshop) driving to all corners of the southern part of the country, discovering waterfalls just about everywhere you turned.  Upon my return home (I actually started on my flight back), I did some research to see what other waterfalls existed locally to me and discovered these dozen or so. I still need to find out if any of these waterfalls have trails to the bottom or if the vantage points are only from the overhead lookouts. I also plan on visiting some of the other waterfalls in the coming weeks.

In my visit to Webster Falls and Tews Falls, I also discovered that the parking areas are limited, so it won't take much for them to fill up with the locals who frequent them. Not only is there the usual importance of planning your time of day and weather conditions so that you have the best light available for shooting, but also in planning the day of the week to go.  That will help avoid crowds of people getting in the way and preventing you from getting the composition you're looking for...unless you don't mind using Photoshop magic to make the people disappear!  It goes to show that you don't need to spend a lot of time to discover new, amazing locations that are right in your backyard.

Webster Falls

Webster Falls

Tews Falls

Tews Falls