If you’ve never heard of the Niagara Escarpment (and let’s be honest, unless you were a geology major or waterfall groupie, “escarpment” might be your word of the day), you’ll be surprised to learn it’s much more than just the famous waterfall to which it owes its name.
An escarpment is basically a geological ridge separating differing elevations. The Niagara escarpment — named for Niagara Falls located toward its eastern end — takes a 625-mile trip from Rochester, New York, horse-shoeing around Hamilton, Ontario, up through the Bruce Peninsula, across Manitoulin Island, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, eastern Wisconsin, and finally dipping down along the western side of Lake Michigan in northern Illinois.
Along the way it meanders through Hamilton, Ontario, leaving behind over 130 waterfalls and cascades within the city limits.
Hamilton prides itself on being the City of Waterfalls, celebrating its moniker with festivals, books, artwork, a waterfall fan group, Facebook pages, and waterfall-themed hikes, walks and adventures. The Niagara Escarpment cutting through the middle of the city provides the best possible setting for falls of all shapes and sizes, from the crashing waters of Webster’s Falls, to the 120-foot pour into the Devils Punchbowl, to the steady tiered cascade of Princess Falls.
None of the drops in Hamilton are as dramatic as their flashy cousin to the east, but the diversity and sheer number within a single city of 430 square miles is awfully impressive. Take that, Niagara Falls.
Know Before You Go
Waterfalls are found all along the Niagara Escarpment in Hamilton, including the communities of Dundas, Ancaster, and Stoney Creek. There are several maps and checklists to plan your waterfall circuit. Check out the website up top, or go to the City of Waterfalls Facebook page below under Sources.