devils punch bowl hamilton

This gorge and waterfall near Toronto comes with an unreal lookout

In the City of Waterfalls, there is one that undoubtedly stands out among the rest: the Devil’s Punch Bowl. Located in Hamilton, this unique gorge is known as one of the Niagara Escarpment’s most amazing sights year-round.

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The Devil’s Punch Bowl Conservation Area consists of the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls.

The Lower Falls is a small almost six-meter classical waterfall, while the Upper Falls is the main attraction to the area. This 34-meter ribbon waterfall is the third highest in Hamilton, but one of the most popular.

This amazing site was created at the end of the last ice age by rivers that plunged over the Stoney Creek Escarpment, creating the ‘punch bowl’ effect that stands today.

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A number of stories circulate as to how the Devil’s Punch Bowl got its name, but the most prominent is that it was named for the moonshiners who sold their homebrews near the falls and were viewed as doing the ‘devil’s work.’

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There is also a notable 10-meter high steel cross that stands at the top of the falls that was built in the late 60s. It was originally only lit up around Christmas and Easter for six weeks, but now is lit every single night.

The Punch Bowl has also been the scene of several film and TV shoots, in 1989 was the backdrop for one of Super Dave Osborne’s show stunts.

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Just a short distance from the parking lot you’ll find a viewing platform that will give you not only an epic view of the falls, but also of Stoney Creek and the Hamilton Harbour. From there, a trail descends down into the gorge.

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If you plan on hiking down to the bottom of the falls, leave your flip-flops at home. The first half of the trail is pretty steep and rocky, and then proceeds up a creek to the base of the falls.

When you reach the bottom, you’ll be able to see why the Devil’s Punch Bowl is a photographer’s dream. The gorge is completely covered with multi-coloured layers of rock, resulting in a kaleidoscope of colour. You simply won’t be able to find a better backdrop for any summer road trip.

Lead photo by

Kevin Cabral


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