A Short Guide to Hamilton's Tiffany & Sherman Falls

If you were to look through my #basic Instagram feed right now, you'd see quite a few pictures of my neighbor's cat (I can't help myself) and a few photos of my outdoor adventures. It's no secret that I'm a huge outdoors enthusiast; not only do I wax poetic about environmental conservation, but I also adore being out in nature and love any activity involving the word "hike." Fortunately, I live in a city (shout out to Hamilton, Ontario) surrounded not only by a plethora of waterfalls - we're home to an average 100 or so - but trails, conservation areas and hiking destinations. Whenever friends from out of town come to stay, we often end up hiking through Hamilton and checking out a waterfall or two.

Given our obscene amount of nature-made waterfalls - not to mention the surprising number of conservation areas close to the city and trails easily accessed by foot, bike and horse - you'd assume it's a given that we have blogs, digital platforms or a comprehensive online resource where people can discover every trail, every waterfall and their levels of difficulty. Sadly, such is not the case. I currently follow more than 7 Facebook groups and online platforms dedicated to keeping track of and promoting these hiking areas and natural sights, but few discuss each trail's difficulty, how to access them and other pertinent information, such as the best time of year to attempt them. Many trails and hiking areas around our city aren't even designated areas; people have simply bushwhacked their way through and leave it up to you to find the entry point from some obscure Instagram photo. 

I was asked by two readers recently for recommendations regarding hiking and waterfall destinations in Hamilton, for beginners. Of course, Hamilton has many trails which are not for the faint of heart, including those which lead to waterfalls but are not necessarily "safe" to trek. So, when it comes to showing people around the natural green spaces of my hometown, I always start with the two most basic waterfall destinations: Sherman and Tiffany Falls. 

These two falls are notorious amongst people living in the Ancaster/Hamilton area; both are located within a five-minute drive of one another and are so easily accessible by foot that you're guaranteed to get two waterfall sightings into your day with little hassle. If you are located in Ontario and ever have the opportunity to visit the Hamilton area, I recommend taking a brief hour out of your day to visit these two waterfalls. 

Tiffany Falls

This waterfall is a 21-metre high cascade fed by the nearby Tiffany Creek. Named after Dr. Oliver Tiffany, the district's first doctor, the waterfall is located in Ancaster, Ontario. The hike to the waterfall takes less than 10 minutes and is accessible by a man-made dirt pathway, connected by two bridges built not long ago to allow people to walk to the basin. At the basin of the waterfall is a look-out point and a shallow, rocky area that you can trek through to get to the very bottom of the waterfall, if you're careful. The scenery is quite stunning all year round.

Difficulty: Easy
Accessibility: Foot
Safety: 9/10 

Location: Wilson Street, Ancaster (right-hand side of the road). If approaching from outside Ancaster, follow the directions here

Why you should visit

Tiffany Falls is an extremely simple hike with a duration of under 10 minutes, and is accessible via a man-made dirt path and bridges quite safe for traversing. The peak time to visit is in the early morning or nearing sunset, as this waterfall becomes quite busy during the day with tourists and photographers. Personally, I find this area the most beautiful during the Summer. 

Sherman Falls

This waterfall is slightly smaller than Tiffany Falls, with a height of 17 metres. It is fed by the Ancaster Creek and is accessible by foot quite easily. It is said to have been named after several people, but an American owner of the land it is situated on by the name of Clifton Sherman has given this waterfall its final namesake. Sherman Falls does not see as much foot traffic as Tiffany Falls but is nonetheless just as beautiful. My preference for visiting this waterfall is to take the very short trek to it during Autumn, when the grounds leading to its basin are covered in red, yellow and golden-brown leaves. 

Difficulty: Easy
Accessibility: Foot
Safety: 9/10 

Location: Old Dundas Road, Ancaster (left-hand side of the road). If approaching from outside Ancaster, follow the directions here

Why you should visit

This waterfall is tucked away alongside a quiet area of Ancaster known as Old Dundas Road. It consists of a very short hike to the falls and also contains a man-made dirt path with one bridge. Unlike Tiffany Falls, which you can walk directly into if you're careful enough to climb over small and large rocks, going into the basin of Sherman Falls is not as easily accessible, but the bridge allows you a close enough view of the falls for photos and beautiful scenery. 

Both Tiffany and Sherman Falls are beautiful landmarks of the Ancaster/Hamilton area and are frequented by visitors, tourists and photographers alike. Sometimes, a local group of waterfall enthusiasts will have illumination events, whereby both waterfalls are illuminated at night from behind for a stunning, nocturnal visual. To learn more about those events, keep up to date by following this platform. My good friend Alexandra (pictured in each image) was kind enough to let me snap a few shots of her during our hikes to each waterfall recently. 

~All imagery in this post courtesy of yours truly (me)