One of Hamilton's favourite hiking spots will reopen soon but you will have to make a reservation

 

The Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) announced on Monday (Sept 8) that Spencer Gorge will be reopening to the public -- by reservation only -- next week.

In a press release posted to HCA's website, it says that starting Saturday, September 19, conservation area visitors and HCA membership pass holders, will be required to make a reservation prior to their visit.

A reservation secures a two-hour window to explore Spencer Gorge, which includes Dundas Peak, Tew Falls and Webster Falls.

HCA was forced to close their areas to the public back in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since amenities started to reopen across the province, the City of Hamilton continued to keep several outdoor areas across the city closed due to capacity issues.

"Given the high number of visitors from across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that wish to come to Spencer Gorge, we need to change our visitor management approach to a reservation system like many other organizations have done during this pandemic," said HCA chairman and Ward 12 councillor Lloyd Ferguson said in the release.

"HCA was unable to run the shuttle bus service this year, due to safety concerns for visitors around physical distancing and sanitizing of the bus. This move to a mandatory reservation system will manage visitor numbers for physical distancing and provide a safe and equitable way to enjoy a hike in the area."

Reservations are made for two-hour blocks, starting at 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays and weekends.

The HCA says that separate advance reservations are required for each area, so visitors will have to choose either the Dundas Peak and Tew Falls hike experience or the Webster Falls hike experience.

Admission fees will be $10 per car and $5 per passenger, plus a $10 reservation fee.

HCA membership pass holders will be admitted for free but will still have to pay the reservation fee to book.

Bookings are rain or shine and must be made online in advance and the HCA recommends that hikes are planned at least a day ahead as visitors without an advance reservation won't be permitted entry. No walk-up or drive-up entry will be admitted without advance reservation.

Visitors to the area should pay especially close attention to the parking bylaws in the area because municipal bylaw enforcement staff will be on patrol.

Parking violations in special enforcement areas carry fines of up to $250.

Visitors are asked to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Practice physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other users.
  • Follow directional arrows on loop trails.
  • Remain on marked trails.
  • Stay behind fences and barriers.
  • Pets are permitted, but must be leashed at all times.
  • Pack out what you pack in, do not litter

For more information on Spencer Gorge and the Hamilton Conservation Authority, visit their website.

Photo: Hamilton Conservation Authority

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