Hiking & Exploring DeCew Falls in Ontario
DeCew Fall is one of the Niagara Escarpment Waterfalls located near St. Catharines, Ontario on DeCew Road. It’s a picturesque waterfall located right below a historic mill - the perfect place for waterfall lovers to go out and explore. DeCew Falls is home to two main waterfalls - the Upper DeCew Falls (22m plunge waterfall) and a Lower DeCew Falls (25 ft steep cascade waterfall).
Spend an afternoon exploring the Morningstar Mill, hiking along the Bruce Trail, taking a swing into the swimming hole in a forested setting before ending off at the Falls!
There is free parking for DeCew Falls located at Morningstar Mill, an old mill that is being restored at the top of the falls.
From the Mill, follow the Bruce Trail (it’ll look like you are entering somebody’s backyard!). If you stay along Bruce Trail, it is a fairly easy hike you can do in flip flops, however if you want to get to the gorge and close to the falls, all trails are a fairly steep and slippery hike, so please be careful.
For closer views of the falls, you will have to get into the gorge - there are two popular ways. I recommend taking the long way down and back up to Morningstar Mills as there have been many accidents in recent years on the short path.
The Short Way (involves climbing down/up a rope!)
The shortcut involves climbing down a rope. At the start of the Bruce Trail, look for a steep but well-travelled path to your left. It’s not easy to spot but you will find a rope tied to a tree that you will climb down. Once you climb down the rope, you will take a fairly steep path (~ 5 min) towards the left until you reach the base of the upper falls.
Important: We saw a couple of people taking this path down but would not recommend it as it looked fairly steep so we took the trail down.
The Long Way to Decew Falls
The long way around will bring you to a swimming hole, through muddy + rocky paths and through both the Lower and Upper Falls. For the long route, follow Bruce trails until you hit a fork in the road and keep to the left. This is not a well maintained trail and is pretty rocky and steep. The first point you’ll reach is the swimming hole with a rope. We have been informed that the swimming hole is on private property so we kindly ask that you do not trespass.
Continue left towards the Mill and you will first reach the lower cascading DeCew Falls and if you continue you will reach the upper DeCew falls with a view of the mill.
To get back to the Mill, we recommend you take the long way back as it is the safest route. You can also choose to take a shortcut. If you do, you’ll want to keep to the right - it’ll be a fairly steep and rocky climb up to the rope. Climbing up the rope will lead you to close to the start of the Bruce Trail!
What to bring
Hiking / running shoes you don’t mind getting dirty - it’ll be a steep, rocky and muddy climb to the falls
Swimming clothes - swing on the rope at the swimming hole or see how close you can swim to the falls
Water shoes - the water is not very deep but the ground is full of sharp rocks, branches and slimy mud.
Water - remember to hydrate!
Let us know the comments below what your favourite hikes in Ontario are!
For other scenic hikes in Ontario, visit Scarborough Bluffs.