Dundas Peak Hike: Lookout, Tew Falls & Webster Falls (2023)
One of the most spectacular things to do in Southern Ontario is to visit some of the 150+ beautiful waterfalls and jaw-dropping lookouts atop the steep cliffs found around the City of Hamilton.
Situated perfectly along the Niagara Escarpment, it’s no wonder Hamilton has earned the name “City of Waterfalls.”
At the top of your list of must-see Ontario waterfalls and hiking trails should without a doubt be the popular spots of Dundas Peak, Tew Falls and Webster Falls. The three sites sit boldly along the Spencer Gorge Wilderness Area just outside of Hamilton in the town of Dundas.
Perfect in any season, a day trip to Dundas Peak and its neighbouring waterfalls will fulfill your sense of awe, adventure, and connection to the outdoors.
Is Dundas Peak Worth Visiting?
Dundas Peak is one of Hamilton’s most beautiful lookout spots along the Niagara Escarpment. It is a rocky outcropping above the Spencer Gorge that boasts stunning panoramic views of the nature and city below.
“Dundas Peak” refers to the lookout spot itself, however, it has come to be synonymous of the lookout, its neighbouring Tew Falls, and its nearby sister site of Webster Falls.
Because each of these three nearby sites offer something unique, we recommend making the point to visit all three in the same day.
Site 1: Tew Falls and Dundas Peak
Tew Falls holds the title of being Hamilton’s tallest waterfall (and second in Southern Ontario after Niagara Falls), with its 41-meter tall cascade straight down into a limestone basin. Tew Falls is located a short walk from Dundas Peak, hence some people refer to it as “Dundas Falls” (though that’s not it’s official name).
The Dundas Peak Lookout offers a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding area, that peaks in popularity during the fall when the leaves are changing colours. While autumn is arguably the best time to see the sites, Dundas Peak is worth the visit anytime of the year.
Dundas Peak Trail
To hike the Dundas Peak Trail to Tew Falls and the Dundas Peak lookout, your adventure begins at the Tew Falls Parking Lot.
There are multiple signs directing you in the way of Tew Falls and Dundas Peak (along Tew Falls Side Trail), and warning you of caution along the cliff. The trail is often well trafficked, particularly around the various lookouts.
Within a few short minutes of walking you will get to the first of two lookouts.
From here, you will reach a set of stairs that will take you up to the second lookout.
Tew Falls offers beautiful views in all seasons! Of course, when there is more rainwater in spring and fall, the falls offer the most picturesque view. But Tew Falls in winter is arguably just as beautiful and worth weathering the cold temperatures (like we did!).
In fact, it’s the beauty of the icy waterfalls that lands Hamilton on our list of best places to visit in Ontario in winter.
After viewing Tew Falls, you can continue along the Tew Falls Side Trail which is well-marked with blue (and at some points, orange) markers. The trail to Dundas Peak is wide, and fairly easy, with some inclines that could get slippery when wet.
It is not a difficult hike and is quite accessible even to people not accustomed to hiking. Good footwear with traction is a must if you’re hiking with snow or wet ground.
The Tew Falls Side Trail leads you along the edge of the Niagara Escarpment atop the canyon of the Spencer Gorge. You will find a few natural lookout spots to rest and enjoy the view before reaching the Dundas Peak lookout.
From Tews Falls to the Dundas Peak lookout, the hike takes about 30-40 minutes, depending on how quickly you walk and how long you stop to enjoy the views.
Note: The trail is also called Spencer Adventure Trail and is technically part of the Bruce Trail.
Reaching Dundas Peak
You will know that you have reached the Dundas Peak lookout when you get an area lined with black metal fencing, leading you to a large lookout.
If you’ve seen pictures prior to late 2020, you may have been expecting the Dundas Peak lookout to be unfenced with a short graffiti-filled brick wall that was popular for social media photos.
In 2020, this wall was removed and a metal fence was installed to line the entire peak area. This came as a way to improve safety and discourage risky (and sometimes fatal) photo-ops on the rocky edge of the cliffs.
While this does limit the thrill of the cliff, it is definitely better safe than sorry. Fortunately, the view is still spectacular – even in winter!
As you can imagine, Dundas Peak is incredibly popular during the fall colours season in September and October. Looking out over a panorama of oranges, yellows and reds is a sight absolutely worth chasing if you have the chance to visit Dundas Peak in the fall.
After spending time at the Dundas Peak lookout, continue on the main trail for another couple minutes.
You will then see a sign with arrows pointing left, directing you onto the Glen Ferguson Side Trail. This is the return side of the loop trail that will lead you back to Tew’s Falls and the parking lot.
Note: You can continue straight instead of turning left, for more of the same type of view along the escarpment. This trail eventually leads down the escarpment into the town of Dundas, but it would be illegal for you to make the trail’s eventual crossing at the CN Rail tracks. Turning around is therefore your only safe and legal option.
How Long is the Dundas Peak Hike?
Hiking the Dundas Peak loop trail from the parking lot at Tew’s Falls to the Dundas Peak Lookout should take you around one and a half hours, if you stop to enjoy the views. If you are an avid hiker, you will find the trail relatively easy and you may complete the loop in an hour.
Site 2: Webster Falls
Webster Falls is Hamilton’s widest waterfalls, with a crest of 30 meters. It is completely picturesque and definitely one of the highlights among the 150+ falls that make Hamilton the “Waterfall Capital of the World.”
The paved trail between the Webster Falls parking lot and the falls is short (about 100 meters) and is wheelchair accessible. There are beautiful stone bridges and walkways around the falls, with picnic tables and large grassy clearings.
There is a short, easy loop trail along the escarpment that can be walked within minutes. This is not a site for a long hike, as the former trail connecting Webster Falls to Dundas Peak is now closed.
How Do I Get to the Bottom of Webster Falls?
Visitors can no longer access the bottom of Webster Falls. There used to be a staircase to the bottom of the falls, however, there are now fences that prevent access below.
Can You Hike from Webster Falls to Dundas Peak?
Hikers used to be able to hike from Webster Falls to Tew Falls and Dundas Peak by taking the Webster Falls Side Trail (Spencer Adventure Trail), however, hiking between the two falls is no longer permitted.
It is now illegal to hike the Bruce Side Trail to get from Dundas Peak to Webster Falls, as it requires crossing the CN Rail line at undesignated crossing spots. HCA authorities monitor this path and trespassing is a serious offence.
Note: The section of trail connecting Webster and Tew Falls was previously called Webster Falls Side Trail. It is now closed and the whole trail has been renamed to Tew Falls Side Trail.
Parking at Dundas Peak, Tew Falls and Webster Falls
Dundas Peak and Tew Falls are located in the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area, in the town of Dundas, near Hamilton. Webster Falls is also located in the conservation area, but has a separate entrance. Parking in the correct lots is important and enforced.
Dundas Peak Parking Lot
Visitors to Dundas Peak and Tews Falls must park in the designated lot at the address of 581 Harvest Rd, Dundas. The entrance fee as of April 2022 is $15.50.
Note: The parking fee of $15.50 can be transferred for parking for any of the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) sites that you visit on the same day. This is all the more reason to get out and see as much as you can in one day!
Webster Falls Parking Lot
The best way to access Webster Falls is to park at the designated lot at 99 Fallsview Rd, Dundas. This is the official Hamilton Conservation Authority parking location. The entrance fee is $15.50, but your parking ticket can be transferred to multiple HCA locations for same day use.
There is also the option to pay for parking at Greensville Optimist Park (277 Brock Road, Dundas). This involves a slightly further walk to Webster Falls, by the on-road trail (on Fallsview Road).
We believe it is important to support the conservation authority who maintains the sites, and so we recommend parking at the official falls parking lot and using the transferrable parking pass to visit more sites the same day.
Note: There are multiple signs around Webster Falls and Tew Falls/Dundas Peak informing drivers that it is illegal to park along the roads. Our understanding is that there really is no free parking anywhere in the general vicinity of either falls, and parking illegal could land you a hefty $250 fine!
Dundas Peak Reservations
Before visiting Dundas Peak, Tew Falls and Webster Falls, it is best to check whether reservation requirements are in effect. During peak season (starting in May each year), the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) requires reservations for weekends and holidays, in an effort to eliminate crowding at the sites and guarantee parking spots.
The reservation fee is an additional $10 on top of entry fees to the park. A separate reservation is needed for Dundas Peak (including Tew Falls) and Webster Falls, and reservations are for a 2-hour time slot.
Reservations can be made up to 1 week prior to the date of arrival (no same day reservations), and can be made at the HCA website.
Both sites of Dundas Peak/Tew Falls and Webster Falls are open everyday from sunrise to sunset.
The Falls Shuttle Bus from Christie Lake
Prior to the spring of 2020, visitors on weekends and holidays during the peak season of April-October could only visit the peak and its falls by parking at Christie Lake Conservation Area and taking the shuttle to each site. This shuttle service is no longer in place and has been replaced with the current reservation system (if visiting during peak times).
How to Get to Dundas Peak from Toronto
Turn left onto Highway 5 (signs for Paris). Continue for about 5 minutes then make a left onto Ofield Rd S. Turn right at the first intersection, onto Harvest Rd. After about one minute you will see the entrance to the Spencer Gorge Wilderness Area for visitors to Tew Falls and Dundas Peak.
Note: This is the only entrance to Tew Falls and Dundas Peak. While hikers used to be able to hike from Webster Falls to Dundas Peak, it is no longer legal to do so. Additionally, images on Google Maps for this entrance to the Spencer Gorge Wilderness Area are deceiving, as they primarily show Webster Falls, which has a separate entrance.
Public Transportation to Dundas Peak
If you don’t have access to a car or prefer to use public transit, rest assured that it is possible to access Dundas Peak without a car. It will just take a little extra planning!
If travelling from Toronto, take the GO Train/GO Bus to Hamilton. From Hamilton, you can take the HSR city bus Route 5 to Dundas. From here, you will need to walk on paved roads to get to both sites. Since this would take quite a bit of time, you might want to consider taking a taxi or an uber.
Note: It is no longer legal to hike from the base of Dundas Valley (including the town of Dundas) to Dundas Peak, as this requires crossing a CN Rail line, which is considered trespassing. It is also illegal to hike the trails to get from Dundas Peak to Webster Falls, as it also requires crossing the CN Rail line.
Day Tour to Dundas Peak, Tew Falls and Webster Falls
If you’re looking to book a tour, Parkbus offers a day trip from Toronto to the three sites of Dundas Peak, Tew Falls and Webster Falls, via Christie Lake Conservation Area in Dundas.
Note: Current to March 2023, Parkbus has suspended this tour until further notice while they work on resuming operations.
Our Wrap Up: Dundas Peak, Tew Falls & Webster Falls
If you find yourself in the Hamilton area with a few hours to spare, we highly recommend strapping on your hiking shoes and visiting these three, beautiful sister sites.
This site would also be complimented by a visit to the many other spectacular waterfalls and mountaintop views that you can find along this part of the Niagara Escarpment. Remember to keep your parking pass for free admission (same day) to other HCA locations!
Looking for a great waterfall near London, Ontario? Check out our post on Rock Glen Falls in Arkona!
Erie is the owner and author of Everywhere Ontario. She’s lived and traveled around Ontario for over 30 years, visiting small towns and big cities from the shores of Lake Erie to the crisp northern air of Hearst along the Trans-Canada Highway. She is passionate about maximizing fun and supporting local tourist businesses and is always looking to provide the best recommendations to her fellow Ontario travelers. Read more about Erie here.