As January is now upon us, everyone will start looking for the best Ontario Waterfalls in winter! One of my favourite Canadian winter activities is waterfall chasing! Some might think that the only time they should view waterfalls is in the summertime. Or that summer, not winter is a good time for hanging out near the bottom of a waterfall. However, there is something truly majestic about chasing waterfalls in winter. Hiking around a waterfall in winter is an experience that I think is an absolutely beautiful way to spend a day.
For those interested in photography, the contrast of the frozen falls against the surrounding snow-covered scenery can result in stunning images. Consider bringing your camera and capturing the unique beauty of the frozen landscape.
If you are new to winter hiking, I highly recommend you read Winter Hiking Tips for Hikers of All Levels first!
Ontario offers a variety of stunning waterfalls that can be enjoyed during the winter months, providing a unique and picturesque experience. I am so grateful to live in this part of Southern Ontario. All of the waterfalls I will list below are a car ride or a day trip away in any almost direction. Here are some of the best Ontario waterfalls to hike in winter:
Ontario Waterfalls In Winter – Hamilton Region
Hamilton, Ontario, is often referred to as the “City of Waterfalls”. This is because of the large number of waterfalls in and around the region. Hamilton is home to more than 100 waterfalls. While I might tell you about a handful, there are so many more out there to explore.
Hamilton’s unique geological features, including the Niagara Escarpment, contribute to the creation of a large amount of waterfalls. The Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, runs through Hamilton. Hamilton’s waterfalls vary in size, shape, and character. Some are wide and powerful, while others are more soft and quiet. But all are iconic. This geological formation plays a crucial role in the creation of waterfalls by influencing the flow of rivers and streams.
Hamilton’s waterfalls are conveniently located near an urban area, making them easily accessible for residents and visitors. The proximity allows people to experience the beauty of nature without having to travel far from the city centre. These Ontario waterfalls in winter have easily accessible trails, You’ll find these waterfalls are mainly on the Bruce Trail, just outside of the Hamilton area, in southern Ontario.
Smokey Hollow Falls
Smokey Hollow Falls is not as well-known as some of the larger waterfalls in the region. Only 10 metres tall, this is not the area’s biggest waterfall. Smoky Hollow Falls is a short and fast-flowing waterfall, surrounded by a section of the Bruce Trail. It has a rugged footpath tracing its way up and down the ravine formed by the Niagara Escarpment. It can be a charming destination, especially in the winter.
There is a viewing platform, which is the safest place to overlook the falls. If you’d like, you can hang out here or explore this section of the Bruce Trail. This is a very popular area for birding, hiking, and snowshoeing in winter.
The surrounding area provides hiking trails that lead to the falls, and the winter season can add a magical touch to the experience. The frozen mist around the falls and the ice formations can create a serene and picturesque atmosphere. The trails are generally well-maintained, but it’s essential to check local conditions before heading out and be prepared for winter hiking.
Another gem in the Hamilton area, Sherman Falls is surrounded by picturesque landscapes. The trails leading to the falls are enjoyable in winter, are short and the frozen falls are a great photo opportunity. Typically, there is some water flow all year round.
The 17-metre-high curtain waterfall that surges from Ancaster Creek is between two other local falls, Tiffany Falls and Canterbury Falls. The frozen mist and icicles add a magical touch to the landscape, creating a serene atmosphere.
Note to day trippers and out-of-towners – parking in this area is paid only. There is a parking lot that you must pay to park at. This waterfall is beside a residence, so please be respectful of the neighbours.
Tiffany Falls is situated in the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area. The falls are easily accessible, from a parking lot and on a well-maintained, level trail, making them a popular destination. Tiffany Falls has a height of approximately 21 meters (68 feet). The falls cascade over a beautiful curtain of rock and greenery, creating a scenic and tranquil environment. When it freezes, the ice build-ups are incredibly intricate.
Word to the wise – I have seen hikers walk on the creek, not the trail and have left with wet boots, socks and feet. Please stay on the trail or risk going through the ice of the creek. Ontario waterfalls in winter come from and drain into rivers, streams and creeks that aren’t always frozen solid.
Tiffany Falls is just an astonishing sight. This waterfall is popular for ice climbing in the winter. The conservation area surrounding Tiffany Falls is connected to the Bruce Trail. The Bruce Trail will take you to other waterfalls in the area.
Tews Falls, located near Dundas in the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area, is one of the tallest waterfalls in Ontario. Tews Falls measures approximately 41 meters (134 feet) in height.
The freezing temperatures in winter can transform Tews Falls into a mesmerizing display of ice and snow. The mist from the falls can freeze on nearby surfaces, creating intricate ice formations around the waterfall. This Ontario waterfall has a surrounding area that offers beautiful winter landscapes. The frozen mist around Tews Falls can create a magical atmosphere.
Having been to Twes Falls in the fall and in the winter, I recommend both seasons! Want to see what Tews Falls looks like in autumn? Be sure to check them out here: Epic Hikes With Kids – Dundas Peak and Tews Falls Trail, Ontario
The trails around Tews Falls provide an excellent opportunity for winter hiking. Crisp, winter air and the snow-covered landscapes add to the overall experience. The Spencer Gorge Conservation Area has well-maintained trails, but it’s essential to check trail conditions before heading out.
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Webster’s Falls is one of Hamilton’s most iconic waterfalls! Also situated in the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area, Webster’s Falls is another impressive waterfall to visit in winter. This 22-metre classical curtain waterfall spills over a tiered drop. The trails around the falls offer picturesque views, and the frozen cascades can be quite spectacular.
This is such a popular area that there is a reservation system every other time of the year. In the winter, you’re okay!
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Albion Falls is one of the most well-known waterfalls in the Hamilton area of Ontario, This 19-metre-high waterfall in Ontario is a popular destination for both locals and visitors. The falls are situated in the Red Hill Valley, near the intersection of Mud Street and Mountain Brow Boulevard.
In the winter, Albion Falls can transform into a breathtaking winter wonderland. The cascading water can freeze, creating stunning ice formations and a picturesque scene.
Here’s a hot tip for anyone wanting to hike the area of Albion Falls – there is no access to the base of the falls in winter. There are ways around the fence, but if you’re caught, there’s a ten thousand dollar fine. So, it’s not worth it if you are to get caught. What’s worth it is hiking the rest of the conservation area and over to the top viewing area of Buttermilk Falls and enjoying the views of the escarpment.
Waterfalls of Ontario In Winter – Grey County and Beyond
Hamilton isn’t the only place in Ontario that boasts waterfalls. Aside from Niagara Falls, Grey County has some of its own. Grey County has several waterfalls that are open for explorers in the winter. Some of the Best Ontario Waterfalls In Winter can be found outside Owen Sound or south of the Collingwood Region. Check out my recommendations here:
Hoggs Falls, Flesherton (Grey County)
Hogg’s Falls is as stunning in the winter as it is in the summer. Hoggs Falls is located just outside of Flesherton on Highway 10 between Owen Sound and Shelburne. These falls can be particularly captivating in the winter season and it’s one of my favourite places to go. The view is worth it in any season, but in winter, the falls are so cool.
The entire area around Hoggs Falls is likely to be covered in a blanket of snow during winter. The trails leading to Hoggs Falls are a short distance from the parking lot. While trail conditions can vary, like mud or snow depending on the temperature, a winter hike is so good for you. For real!
Hoggs Falls is not a very tall waterfall and you can get to the bottom of the falls by climbing down a rope. Remember that if you climb down, you have to climb back up. If it’s icy or slippery, it will not be easy, especially for children or for those who are not fit.
If you’re interested in all things Hogg’s Falls, you should check out my guide to hiking Hogg’s Falls in Grey County.
Inglis Falls, Owen Sound (Grey County)
There are a handful of waterfalls around Owen Sound and Inglis Falls is the most impressive! Inglis Falls is an 18-metre cascade waterfall. The hike from the parking lot is roughly ten feet to see this waterfall at the top. However, the hike in the conservation area to see the falls from other angles is worth it.
Inglis Falls is mighty, beautiful, rugged and spectacular. When I was there, rough paths to the gorge’s bottom were closed off. I would guess that they would be very risky to attempt, so stick to the marked and accessible trails.
As with other waterfalls, the falls were initially a mill. It had fallen into disrepair and is now a conservation area. Parking at Inglis Falls is handled by a private company (MacKay). The charge is $6 through the app or online.
Jones Falls, Owen Sound (Grey County)
Jones Falls, is located within the 116-acre Pottawatomi Conservation Area. This Ontario waterfall cascades over the escarpment 12 metres to the Pottawatomi River that flows into Owen Sound Bay. There are a couple of ways to see Jones Falls.
First, there is a half-kilometre trail from the Visitor Centre and the Owen Sound Transportation Company parking lot will take you to the top of the falls, with a view of the surrounding lowlands.
The other way to see the falls is to continue the trail over top and then down the east side, through rugged terrain. This is only recommended for fit and experienced hikers. I went with a hiking pole, which is unusual for me, but it was needed to get back up.
The Pottawatomi Conservation Area features over 5 kilometres of hiking trails, making it a suitable location for snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing during the winter if you stay on the marked trails.
Parking and admission is free.
Hilton Falls – Milton (Halton County)
Located just outside of Milton, Hilton Falls is known for its beautiful surroundings and frozen cascades during the winter months. My love affair with Hilton Falls started back in my college days at Sheridan College. When I moved to Oakville, I started to explore the outdoors of that region and one day found the trail to Hilton Falls in the conservation area.
The Hilton Falls Conservation Area offers well-maintained trails for winter hiking. The Hilton Falls Trail is a four-kilometre loop that leads to a nice view of the waterfall. When you get to the waterfall area, there is a staircase that leads to a platform that is guarded by a rail. The trail continues to a cute picnic area with a fire pit that is utilized by groups to hang out. If you have brought birdseed, the chickadees will come to you as well. It’s here, you will find access to face the falls.
This lookout area is a bit older and is easily climbed over by anyone who is in shape and is wearing proper footwear. But remember, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!
And like many other waterfalls… there are mill ruins here!
Hilton Falls Conservation Area charges a fee to enter and a reservation is required before you visit.
Rock Glen Falls – Arkona (Lambton County)
Rock Glen Falls is located in the Rock Glen Conservation Area in Arkona, Ontario. Arkona is located between London and Sarnia in Southwestern Ontario. The falls are situated along the Ausable River within the conservation area. Rock Glen Falls is formed by the Beatty Saugeen River.
This Ontario waterfall is 10.7 metres high. If you are to come here, you will admire Rock Glen Falls for its natural beauty.
Like other waterfalls we have visited, we were able to park our vehicle and the falls were a short walk away on a trail. The trail circles the waterfall so you can observe it from a couple of different vantage points. There are stairs to the bottom of the waterfall that may be closed depending on the time of year.
Safety Tips Around Best Ontario Waterfalls In Winter
Every member of your family can do winter waterfall hikes if done with care and safety. Practise some common sense. Do not try to cross what would be open water if not frozen and respect Mother Nature. Bring dry socks and extra boots in your vehicle just in case your feet do get wet.
For winter hiking to waterfalls, I highly recommend getting on a pair of crampons. Crampons are also known as ice cleats. I recommend wearing ice cleats because it’s icy close to waterfalls in winter. If the waterfalls are frozen, the surrounding area will be an ice hazard due to blowing water and wind. Waterfalls in Ontario are gorgeous to observe, but they can also pose a danger if you’re not careful.
Ensure your safety by wearing appropriate winter gear. This includes dressing warmly in layers and wearing waterproof and insulated boots. Be cautious and stay on marked paths to protect yourself and the natural environment.
Stay on designated paths, avoid slippery or unstable surfaces, and be mindful of your surroundings. Adhere to any posted guidelines or advisories.
And remember – just because you made it to the base of a frozen waterfall, that doesn’t mean it is safe to be there. Often, the viewing platform is just fine.
More Ontario Waterfalls!
Love waterfalls but aren’t keen on seeing them in the winter? Here are my recommended any-time waterfalls to see: Best Waterfalls Near Toronto To Hike
Are you new to hiking? You’ll want to get this overview of Hiking Etiquette; Your Guide To The Trails