001 - 002 | 1.8 kmThis hike culminates in the Headwaters loop in Dundas Valley and then returns to the trail centre. From the parking lot (001), continue on the road past the gate to the Trail Centre. From the Trail Centre, cross the railway tracks and continue straight ahead to the Main Loop trail. Turn right onto the Main loop heading southwards through a hardwood forest. The white blazes indicate this loop is a part of the main Bruce Trail. This is a wide undulating path with a gravel surface that winds through the forest making a jog to the left over a dry stream bed before descending a very steep slope to the valley carved out by Sulphur Creek. To your right you can see Sulphur Springs Road.
Taking a little detour out to the road you can see the sulphur springs fountain across the road which was recently rebuilt (2003). Local and aboriginal peoples used the spring for its supposed curative powers. You can detect the sulphur dioxide smell that emanates from the spring. Returning to the trail, cross the bridge over the creek where the trail begins a steep climb up the escarpment made somewhat easier by the series of wooden steps built into the bank.
At the top, the trail branches off to the right. Before going right you might wish to go straight ahead to view the ruins called The Hermitage. This was once a very notable house indeed. The few remaining walls are fashioned from locally quarried stone with a number of nearby outbuilding structures. The house was built in 1855 by George Leigh, the son of a Scottish baronet, who owned a 100 ha farm here. The Hermitage burned to the ground in 1934.
The Headwaters Trail passes by the North side of The Hermitage passing through an opening in a rail fence before emerging onto wide grassy areas and a gravel driveway. Follow this driveway to the right for about 50 m until you reach a path going into the forest on the left. The path wanders through the woods for a bit alongside a high ridge on the right and crosses a bridge over a stream coming from Hermitage Falls. Shortly you will arrive at an intersection (002) where the Headwaters Trail begins and where we leave the Main Loop.
002 - 003 | 2.6 kmThe Headwaters Trail is marked with a square symbol showing a stylized valley with a flowing river. Here the trail goes off to the right through a tangle of raspberry bushes and grape vines and heads uphill past a rock formation to the top of the ridge high above Mineral Springs Road below. The trail descends and continues along the road for about 20 m before heading left crossing the gravel road and entering the woods again through a gap in the fence. The Carolinian forest gives way to marshy lands and tall cattails followed by sumac growths, vines and blackberries. The Headwaters trail goes left crossing a short boardwalk.
Shortly you will arrive at an intersection marking the beginning of the Clearview Trail (003).
003 - 004 | 3.0 kmTurn left onto the trail and walk uphill along the top of the ridge until you come to a sign with a yellow arrow on a green background pointing right. Heading right, the scenery changes dramatically as the trial descends down into a pine forest where the fragrance of pine is overpowering. The trail arrives at a T-intersection at the bottom of the hill where it meets the Lookout Trail (004).
004 - 005 | 3.5 kmTurn left onto the Lookout Trail. At a Y-intersection keep to the right. The forest again changes dramatically with a mixed variety of deciduous trees. Ahead the trail winds upwards in a very steep climb to Lookout Point. At lookout point there was a two-person bench (now missing) on the side of the hill with a great view of the surrounding countryside and the valley below. Behind the bench there is a small informal trail that goes up to the very top of the hill providing a good location to view the valley below on the other side.
The trail heads downhill and shortly arrives at an intersection with the Headwaters Trail (005).
005 - 006 | 3.6 kmThe trail makes a sharp left as it rejoins the Headwaters Trail heading downhill. Turn left onto Headwaters Trail and shortly the trail arrives at the intersection with the Hilltop Trail (006).
006 - 007 | 4.7 kmHeading left on Hilltop Trail, the route follows the banks of Sulphur Creek and swings across a bridge over the creek. A sign indicates the “Spring Valley Trail” heads left. Continue to the left on the trail along the creek passing a few small waterfalls (35 cm high) until you reach an informal trail (007) off to the right and heading uphill paralleling a small creek. This is the bottom of the Hilltop Trail loop. You can identify this point which occurs just after passing over a metal culvert where the creek flows under the pathway.
007 - 008 | 6.0 kmHeading right, the trail winds through the woods, circles around and climbs up a long gradual slope. At the top of the hill at a 4-way intersection, continue straight ahead down the hill. Partway down the hill a sign reads “Hilltop Trail K9Q2”. Continue downhill straight ahead passing another Hilltop Trail sign. At the Y-intersection, continue straight ahead passing another trail sign. The trail meets Martin Rd where it turns right and follows the road past the closed road sign to the Headwaters Trail crossing where the route rejoins the Headwaters Trail at intersection (008) marked by a few large stones.
008 - 009 | 7.3 kmGo left onto Headwaters Trail where the route continues through a mixed forest area. The trail comes to a wetland area on the left and crosses a wood plank bridge over a small creek. The trail then crosses over a culvert allowing a creek to flow underneath. At intersection (009) the Headwaters end loop begins.
009 - 009 | 11.1 kmTake the lower loop to your left. The trail now follows along the top of a ridge between two inclines. Ahead at a point where the trail divides –continue straight ahead up the steep incline or preferably take the gentler slope that curves around to the left. This path provides some interesting views of the escarpment cliffs looking south. The trail continues along the edge of a wheat field and passes the point where the steep trail arrives at the top. This trail continues between wheat field and forest for about 2 km passing by raspberry canes, elderberry bushes and chokecherry and apple trees before swinging right and re-entering the forest.
The trail now heads downhill through an undulating area of high ridges and deep valleys before returning to (009).
009 - 010 | 13.3 kmKeep left and head back following your previous route back to the beginning of the Reforestation Trail (010). Here you can decide whether to explore the Reforestation Trail detour or continue back on the Headwaters Trail. A small shelter kiosk is located here.
010 - 011 | 14.0 kmThe Reforestation Trail heads off downhill to the left. As you descend the slope you can see the reforested areas of pine. Walking through a deciduous area, a bird’s nest was spotted in a tree high above as the trail loops around and arrives at an intersection (011).
011 - 010 | 14.2 kmTurn right and head back to the Headwaters Trail (010). (Going left at intersection (011) would take you to the G. Donald Trail).
010- 002 | 15.5 kmAfter the Reforestation Trail, turn left back onto the Headwaters Trail. Continue along the Headwaters Trail to the point where it meets the Main Loop (002).
002 -012 | 16.2 kmTurn right and follow this Main Loop to the intersection (012) where this hike leaves the Bruce Trail which heads off to Tiffany Falls.
012 - 013 | 17.1 kmStay left on the Main Loop while the Heritage Trail goes off to the right downhill into the woods. The Main Loop passes Merrick Orchard and the old cider shack can be seen to the right. The trail meets the Monarch Trail (013) which heads off to the right. Instead, stay on the Main loop.
013 - 001 | 18.2 kmThe Main Loop heads to the right downhill crossing a bridge over a rapidly flowing creek and swings to the left heading back uphill. Shortly you will see the spires of the Trail Centre high to your right. When you reach the Bruce Trail, go right and follow the path back to the Trail Centre and from there back to the parking lot along the road.
Enjoy the hike and the day!
[updated, Spring 2010]