Hiking Eugenia Falls to Hoggs Falls: Adventures & Lessons on the Trails
We set out with a lofty goal. Hiking Eugenia Falls to Hoggs Falls in the middle of a frigid Ontario winter day. But, we were excited, pumped up on coffee, and perhaps a tad overconfident.
My good friend and main hiking partner and I usually prefer to hibernate during the long, snow-filled grey days of our Canadian winters. But after relishing in spring through fall hiking we were determined to keep hitting the trails in the winter. We hoped this would lessen the dread of the long winter.
Eugenia, Ontario, Canada is a small town in Ontario’s Grey County. Grey County is fabulous for many reasons, one of which being all of its amazing waterfalls. And while I had visited both Eugenia and Hoggs Falls already, I was eager to see both in their full winter glory. And, I thought what better way to do that than to try hiking Eugenia Falls to Hoggs Falls.
We left Barrie around 8 in the morning on a blustery day with temperatures dipping to -10 degrees Celsius. But we were prepared. Or so we thought. We had our warm winter boots, snowshoes, multiple layers, and true Canadian blood.
Related Post: Winter Hiking Tips for Beginners
Up in the hills of Grey County we faced our first hurdle. The gale force winds were blowing the snow straight from the open fields and across the road, near whiteout conditions. But a little snow won’t make this true Canadian driver turn around.
We arrived in Eugenia around 9am and found the Eugenia Falls Conservation Area parking lot closed. Something I wasn’t aware of. Thankfully a lovely lady across the street let us park in front of Eugenia Falls Emporium. With the car set we set to don our winter gear and headed for the trail.
Hiking Eugenia Falls to Hoggs Falls
We headed over the hill of snow that was once an entrance to the Conservation Area parking lot and straight over to Eugenia Falls. Feeding Beaver River, Eugenia Falls is the highest of Grey County’s waterfalls, at nearly 100 feet. And in the winter it looks more spectacular than at any other time of year. Massive ice shards covered the plunging water. But beneath that ice I could see a hint of movement. Water still flowed. And I couldn’t help but be wowed by Mother Nature and her ability to keep moving even through winter’s ice.
The dense down filled blanket of snow told us we weren’t the only snowshoers. We started down the Bruce Trail. The area is full of hills and valleys, proving entertaining as we trudged up and then slid down the other side. And this was only half the fun of hiking Eugenia Falls to Hoggs Falls in the winter.
Nearly mid-way between Eugenia Falls and Hoggs Falls stands a pinnacle. This lofty hill stands in the Cuckoo Valley and offers a wonderful 360 degree view of the entire area. Pausing at the top I tried to encourage the sun to come out from hiding and catch my breath from the ascent. It was here we stumbled upon a group of snowshoers. With pleasantries aside they asked where we were hiking to.
“We’re hiking Eugenia Falls to Hoggs Falls.”
“Is someone driving you back to your car?” one lady asked.
“No, we’re hiking back.”
We were met with mumblings and wide-eyes. Finally, one of the gentlemen says, “Well, that’s a lofty goal today, good luck.” And they were off.
My friend stared at me with those eyes that said, what did you get us into?! I stared back as uncertainty descended between us. We shook it off and continued on determined.
The trail comes out to a road where you have to continue down for a jaunt to where the trail turns back into the forest. This part of the trail was so picturesque, as it wraps around and ascends a hillside where the sun and blue skies were finally peeking through the trees. But the idea of hiking up and down another hillside, in the snow and freezing temperatures, was starting to get to us. Knocking us down. Doubting thoughts trickled in. How much longer? Would we have enough steam to return and retrace our hike once we arrived at Hoggs Falls? Should we just turn back now?
The truth is trail life isn’t always glamorous. And, hiking/snowshoeing in the winter is a whole new game.
I had an idea. Hoggs Falls is right off of Lower Valley Road, the road we just came off of. It’s an old country road with little traffic. What if we just took the road the rest of the way to the falls? It would save time and energy. It was just the boost we need to keep going.
About a half hour later I saw the trail off to the right leading to Hoggs Falls. I found another burst of energy and quickened my step. With a kick in our step we took the short trail to the top of the falls, nearly sliding right into it.
Out of all of Ontario’s impressive waterfalls, like Niagara Falls and Kakabecka Falls, Hoggs Falls is my favourite. One of the smallest, at just over 22 feet, it may be small, but it is mighty. You can easily hear its roar before you even see it. Proving that the best things come pint-sized!
Just off to the side there is a repelling rope set up so you can descend to the foot of the falls. I had done it last summer in the mud, and now I would be doing it in the snow and ice. It’s only a short, maybe 10 feet drop, but it still fills me with adrenaline. But for anyone visiting Hoggs Falls I highly recommend it. The view from below is just spectacular. There were only a few shards of ice at its corners. The water just pounded down into the river, creating a thunderous roar bouncing off the walls. Even now writing of it I’m smiling with goosebumps.
We’d done it! We’d hiked, in the cold winter, over snowy hills, from Eugenia Falls to Hoggs Falls. But wait. Now we were faced with the long return back. Did we have the energy? Truth is, I didn’t think I did. I considered asking a couple we’d seen at the falls if they could drive us back to the car. It would only be a 5-10 minute drive. But, instead, we pushed aside discomfort, wearisomeness, and decided to stick it out.
With a lot of cheerleader chatter for encouragement we made our way back up the road to the trail leading back to Eugenia Falls Conservation Area. Once back in the comforts of the forest we got our second wind. We made good time. And back at the pinnacle hill I found myself bounding up it to rejoice in the brilliant blue sky overhead. It was as though I knew we could do it all along. And so I wanted to praise the hiking gods and Mother Nature for the strength.
When all was said and done, and we were back at the car, I checked my Fitbit. In five hours we had hiked to two waterfalls, and BACK, in the cold and snow, and covered over 12 kilometres. Not too shabby for two gals who used to hibernate in the winter.
If there is one thing hiking Eugenia Falls to Hoggs Falls taught me, it is that you never know what you are capable of until you try. Hiking has changed my life, and me personally, in so many ways. And for every lesson I learn on the trails I can transfer it into my daily life.
What lessons have you learned on the trails?
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