Short Hills Provincial Park is the largest among the other provincial parks in Ontario, Canada. The park is situated near Niagara Falls. Whether you are a hiker, a nature lover or an explorer, it’s a must-visit place when you are in this region. So, here is a guide to Short Hills Provincial Park.
1. History Of Short and Steep Hills
A thousand years ago, short and steep hills were formed due to glacial erosion near the Niagara region. Short Hills Park is named after several small but steep hills created during the last ice age. When Twelve Mile Creek cut across the glacial till and sedimentary deposits, it just increased the effect.
The park is spread across 1600 acres of land, which makes it the largest provincial park in this region.
2. Short Hills Provincial Park
This provincial park is known for its biodiversity. The park has diverse wild flora and fauna, well-marked and well-maintained trails, gentle hills, waterfalls, hayfields and creeks. You can expect animals like white-tailed deer, Brush Wolves, Meadow Vole, Red Fox and Chipmunk, and birds like Bobolink, Great Horned Owl, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo bunting and Baltimore Oriole.
In addition, Please note that it is a non-operational park. As a result, there are hardly any amenities. Also, you can’t go camping there. The park remains open all around the year, but note that it closes by sunset.
On the other hand, the park is free to visit. Also, you can go hiking, horseback riding, cycling, mountain biking and fishing. However, fishing is for catching and releasing only.
There are a total of seven recognized trails at the park. Some of them are for hiking only, whereas some of them are for shared use. Which means they are multipurpose and can be used for hiking, horseback riding, cycling etc. In addition, there is one gravel paved surface trail, which is beginner-friendly and disabled-friendly.
2.1 Trails Of Short Hills Provincial Park
The park has hiking trails named Hemlock Valley Trail, Terrace Creek Trail, and Scarlet Tanager Trail; three shared-use trails named Very Berry Trail, Swayze Falls Trail, and Black Walnut Trail; and the paved surface trail, which is Palaeozoic Path Trail. There is also a Bruce Trail, which is the longest hiking trail at the Short Hills Provincial Park.
Short Hills Provincial Park trails range from one kilometre to six kilometres in length. Moreover, they are marked with different colour blazes as per the restrictions of activities.
For example, a blue blaze indicates hiking, while yellow blazes are multipurpose. Blue blazes can be used by hikers only, and yellow blazes can be used by hikers, horseback riders and cyclists. Whereas, red blaze can be used by physical disables as well as by hikers.
2.1.1 Palaeozoic Path Trail
This loop trail starts from the Ronald Road parking lot and goes to the viewing platform at Swayze Falls. It is the only path which is disabled-friendly and has a red blaze. Its path is paved with gravel. Therefore, physically challenged people can also be with nature.
It is approx. 0.8 km long and relatively simple trail. A parking, public restroom, and information kiosk are located at the trailhead. There are many barrier-free benches on this route.
2.1.2 Very Berry Trail
You can access this from Pelham Road. It is a multipurpose trail marked by yellow blazes. It is said to be 2.6 km long. This trail is comparatively hard. On this route, you can prominently witness the sedimentary deposits.
You can also witness Niagara’s only cold-water creek, the wavy Twelve Mile Creek. It is famous for trout fishing. Here, you can watch small mammals and birds. There are Oak, Maple, Basswood, Beech, Bitternut Hickory and Black Walnut trees on this route.
2.1.3 Swayze Falls Trail
This shared-use trail is also hard and marked by yellow blazes. This loop trail is approx. 6.2 km long. You can access this trail either through Roland Road or Pelham Road.
Swayze Falls is the largest among all in Short Hills. It is a tributary of Twelve Mile Creek and falls can be seen during heavy rainfalls and spring melt.
You can also start from Gilligan’s Road, and walk through Black Walnut Trail to the Bruce Trail trailhead. Furthermore, it passes through forests and fields. Most importantly, this route might be muddy. So, plan accordingly.
2.1.4 Black Walnut Trail
It is named after a Black Walnut tree, which is very prominent here. This 4.3 km trail is a multipurpose trail with yellow blazes. Again, it is among the hard ones. You can access it from Wiley Road as well as from Pelham Road. You will encounter Swayze Falls and the central kiosk on this route.
2.1.5 Scarlet Tanager Trail
With the blue blazes, it is a hiking-only loop trail. The trail is approx. 2.3 km long. From the Pelham parking, you can reach here by a 15-20 minute walk. Moreover, you can go for the Hemlock Valley trail from its southmost trailhead.
2.1.6 Hemlock Valley Trail
This is also a hiking-only tail and so, marked by blue blazes. It is 2.8 km long. Here, you will witness some rare Hemlock trees. You may encounter wildlife like wild turkeys and white-tailed deer on this route.
However, you can access it only through Scarlet Tanager Trail. Most importantly, it is a relatively hushed trail.
2.1.7 Terrace Creek Trail
This trail is a 4.6 km long hiking-only trail. This is also one of the difficult trails. You can access it from Gilligan Road Old Farm Road or Pelham Road parking. Also, you can access it through Black Walnut Trail.
Here, you can visit the Terrace Creek waterfall.
2.1.8 Bruce Trail
Above all, Short Hills Park has a 4.8 km section of the Bruce trail near Pelham. It is a very popular trail and comparatively easy trail. You can go back and forth in approx. two hours.
The trail runs parallelly to The Black Walnut trail. Moreover, Bruce Trail is situated right opposite Swayze Falls and is indicated by white blazes.
2.2 Location and Address of Short Hills Park
The park is located at Short Hills Provincial Park, Pelham Road, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
You can visit this site for the exact location, access and map of the trails.
2.2.1 Parking Areas
There are three parking lots, Pelham, Roland and Wiley Road parking lot. All of them are free.
2.3 Dos and Don’ts at Trails of Short Hills Provincial Park
- go during wet weather.
- camp inside the Park.
- lit a fire (camp as well as cooking fires) inside the Park.
- bring alcoholic beverages.
- bring motorized vehicles.
- let your pet defecate on pathways.
- remain on established trails.
- collect trash from the trails.
- bring first-aid and repellents.
In conclusion, being the biggest park in the Niagara region, Short Hills Provincial Park is the must-visit park, whenever you are in Ontario, Canada. Its short and steep hills’ terrain with biodiverse flora and fauna will, surely, give you immense pleasure.
Out of seven well-established and well-marked trails, Hemlock Valley Trail, Terrace Creek Trail, and Scarlet Tanager Trail are hiking-only trails, while Very Berry Trail, Swayze Falls Trail, and Black Walnut Trail are open for hiking, cycling, horse riding and fishing.
In Palaeozoic Path Trail, wheelchairs and baby strollers can run smoothly. As a result, none will feel left out due to any limitations. You can also hike for the popular though easy Bruce Trail.
So, what are you waiting for? Use this guide to Short Hills Provincial Park and plan your memorable day out with friends and family.
3.1 Feedback Please!!
If you liked this guide, please do like, share, and comment. Also, please share your reviews and experiences with us after your visit.