I’ve seen this one talked about in the Hamilton Kayak Club on facebook as well as Kayak Ontario so decided to give it a try. When you come in you can easily be distracted by going to the Kayak rental and snack bar stand but this is not a good place to launch. Feel free to stop over here to use the facilities but launching is further down the end of the road to the left where you will find a great launching at the marina pavilion ramp and you can back right up and put in down towards the dam. Super convenient. This map helps to show you where to go, shamelessly pilfered from Kayak Ontario.
Be sure and bring along a change of clothes, some comfy shoes and something to eat. There’s a snack bar but your gourmet lunch will consist of chips and pop. That’s about all that’s in the snack bar. Within Christie lake there’s fishing, hiking around the lake, biking, swimming and so much more. Lots to do. And close by is Tew and Webster falls, more on that later. They do have rentals but don’t expect much.
Once in the water I headed to the west end of the lake. Down towards the end you run into a walking/riding trail that blocks your path. At this point you will need to do a short portage. Like 30m. But even on google maps it’s unclear that this is impassible on the water, which it is. None the less it’s easy to get out, carry your boat and stuff and put back in. And you will be handsomely rewarded for doing so. From the launch point it’s about 2km to where you need to portage. From there you can get another 2.4MK upstream before you get to a point where it’s too shallow to paddle and too strong a current to not. And that’s where on the map you will see I turned around. On the way I had to duck under a car bridge (Middletown rd) that is easy to get under as well as a foot bridge that even with the high water levels of today you can still sneak under.
Boat traffic is light in Christie lake but once past the portage point you are on your own. Peace and tranquility abound. And nature can be found like the usual suspects, herons, egrets, and even an eagle.
The path above the portage is narrow and weedy but very passable.
As you approach the highest point you can get to the current is quite swift and your paddling is brisk. But you will be rewarded on the way back down where you can have a leisurely paddle back down the stream. Ahhhh. What took me 48 mins to get up to 36 mins to get down, and a whole lot more coasting 🙂
All in all this is a lovely paddle, and I highly recommend it, and recommend the bother of the portage. The cost was $10 (for one person).
There is hiking around Christie Lake but I didn’t check it out and opted instead for the falls which are up next.
Once in the area I decided to check out Webster and Tew falls. The area around both falls are severely limited in parking so to provide relief what Hamilton has chosen to do is to have you park at Mizener’s and then shuttle you to the falls. The shuttles are school buses that run super frequently. For $15 they take you to both falls.
Once at either falls you get a severely obstructed view of both falls coupled with paths that are in very poorly maintained condition. If your even remotely a clutz, or out of shape, DO NOT go here. There’s no access to the gorge at Webster falls and when I was at Tews falls Spencer Gorge access was closed.
And if you get thirsty, they have bottles of water for a whopping $6 … WTF. And the restricted view ended up in people doing no end of stupid things to see the falls. It’s no wonder Hamilton Fire dept is regularly called out to rescue people that have climbed over fences and done ridiculous things … I saw people climb down inclines that there was little to no chance of them ever climbing back up. I could go on and on about this, but I will leave you with this (yes that’s on a tree over the gorge, I can’t make this shit up. Darwin really does work way too slowly):
My advice, skip these falls.
Map of the webster falls hike
Map of the Tew Falls hike
Time: 2:36 including the brief portage
Distance: 8.4KM right to as high as you can go in the creek right up into Christie Wildlife area
Level: Beginner easy paddle. At the very top the current is somewhat strong
Start/End point: at the marina pavilion
Kayak Ontario’s write up on Christie lake