wards falls

There’s a steady rain coming down, so we’re indoors taking a break and doing a bit of reading, writing and catching up on things. Tomorrow, we should be back into sunny weather, so we’ll be able to carry on with our hiking and explorations. Today, I’ll do some catching up on photo uploading and posting a few things here. I’m pretty sure that we’ll be without a net connection for the next couple of days, so today’s posts might be the last until after the weekend.

Tuesday, we spent part of the day hiking up to Wards Falls. When traveling from Parrsboro towards Cape Chignecto, the trailhead turn-off is marked with a small sign on the right side of the road just as the sign for the village of Diligent River comes into view. A narrow dirt road leads up to a small parking lot surrounded by alder bushes. The trailhead sign states that the trail to the falls is 3.5 km. in length. We reckon that it took us around an hour to hike up to the falls — that’s at an easy pace with several stops to shoot photos. The trail is on lands belonging to the C. E. Harrison & Sons Ltd, a building supply company located near Parrsboro, that built the trail in memory of its founder.

The first section of trail leads through a low area bordered by alders, blackberry, and other dense vegetation. As the path began to rise to a drier area, we found ourselves surrounded by many Fritillary butterflies that were nectaring on blackberry flowers in a small clearing. I’m not great at butterfly IDs, but I think all that I photographed were Great Spangled Fritillaries (Speyeria cybele cybele) such as the above example which looks to be a male of that species (click on image for larger view). Here are two additional photos — the first is of the underside of the above butterfly’s wings, and the second is of what I take to be a female of that species. A swallowtail butterfly was also seen nectaring on the blackberry flowers. Its wings were quite worn and damaged, but by the wider, darker markings it looks to be the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis) and not the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail that we see in our area of Ontario. Please feel free to post a comment if you think those IDs are incorrect.

The remainder of the trail is alongside a branch of the Diligent River that flows through a narrow forested gorge. For much of the way, it’s an easy trail that rises gradually. The path crosses the stream many times before reaching the falls. We’re pretty sure there are 15 bridges in all. At this time, all seemed to be in good condition and much like the one that Sabrina is crossing in this photo The forest is mixed conifers and hardoods, with a few good-sized trees, especially at the upper end near the falls.

The final approach to the falls is the steepest part of the trail, first crossing a footbridge that is several feet above a boulder-strewn riverbed, and then up a hillside that terminates at a massive wall of rock. The falls aren’t high, perhaps 12 or 15 feet, but the surrounding rock formation through which they flow is quite spectacular. Over time, water has carved through the rock, creating a cave-like slot in the formation (click on image to left to see a vertical panorama photo – it’s quite tall so you’ll have to scroll to see the whole image).

The cave area can be accessed by climbing a tall wooden ladder and then scaling down a rock using a rope. Satisfied with the view from across the stream, we didn’t go up, but four young people who arrived shortly after us clambered up to take a look around and said it was “pretty cool in there.”

Leaving the falls, we returned along the trail, stopping several times to enjoy watching the very clear water running over the colourful stone streambed. On the way down, I spotted a small wolf spider struggling to carry a very large egg sac across the trail.

Hiking notes: Trail is about 7 km. return (approx. 4 miles). Footing is fairly good all the way, although there are a few parts with tree exposed tree roots to step around. The lower end might be a bit mucky in springtime. Footbridges are all quite good. Final approach to falls is a bit steep and could be slippery in wet weather.

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7 Responses to “wards falls”

  1. Mark Paris Says:

    A very refreshing post. It makes me a little envious, but I’m afraid as usual in this hot, dry summer, the things I notice are mostly related to the weather. Like rain. The blackberry flowers also remind me of a slightly cooler time. Our blackberries have been trying to ripen for weeks now, hindered only by lack of rain. Mostly they have been hard, sour, pitiful little things. They will all soon be either eaten or dried-up wads of seed. The closest I have seen lately to the waterfall is the sprinklers that run every day alongside the business park where I bicycle in the late evening.

  2. burning silo Says:

    Mark – Yes, it’s always the rain and water that seems to get your attention! I’d be feeling the same way if we were having a dry year back home. Everything is so verdant here, and the wildflowers are in bloom along the highways and in the meadows. Well, I hope you get some rain soon, although I guess it won’t do the plants much good for this year. However, it’s good to get the water table up again.

  3. Wayne Says:

    One of the interesting things about this is the contrast between what is allowed and what is not. Having scaled trails into the North Georgia and North Carolina woods, and visited waterfalls, what we usually find is a (admittedly well-constructed) observation deck that prohibits you from investigating any further, with many signs and dire warnings of death and injury. We’d never find a ladder to allow you to choose for yourself to move onward.

    I suspect it would be possible to go ahead and defy the warnings, but also imagine that if you were caught you’d be fined heavily.

  4. robin andrea Says:

    What a fantastically lush and verdant place to walk. There is something about rushing, bubbling creeks, rivers, and falls that makes me want to sit and listen for a long time. I Lovely. The Frittilary butterflies are beautiful. It always surprises me how tattered and torn a Swallowtail can be and still manage to move about. What persistence. It is just so good to see such a wild and beautiful place.

  5. burning silo Says:

    Wayne – Your comment about the differences between down your way and up this way made me laugh. I’ve noticed the same thing when I’ve traveled in the states. Down there, it seems that many natural places are so ‘developed’ compared to here – look-out platforms, fences to keep you from falling off cliffs, lots of warning signs, etc… That’s not to say that there aren’t some similarly developed places here, but a lot aren’t. There will just be a warning sign saying to stay away from the edges of cliffs as they’re unstable – or a very simple railing a few feet back from a cliff – sometimes with a warning to stay behind the rail. Apparently, in some of the real wilderness areas, very little mucking about is allowed as far as building bridges, or altering the trails due to the environmental impact, so it’s a “use at your own risk” kind of thing. I sometimes wonder what visitors from outside of Canada must think about some of these places. Occasionally, I get feeling slightly apologetic for the fact that, so often it must seem that Canada just has…as in the words of the Arrogant Worms:
    Cause we’ve got rocks and trees, and trees and rocks,
    and rocks and trees, and trees and rocks,
    and rocks and trees, and trees and rocks,
    and rocks and trees, and trees and rocks,
    and water.

    Robin – Yes, it was a wonderful place to walk. We stopped many times along the stream just to look into the very clear water as the effect of the bright stones under the dappled forest light was so mesmerizing. You’re quite right about the Swallowtails. They get so beaten up looking after awhile, and yet can continue to fly so well.

  6. Peter Says:

    Bev, I got around to hiking at Wards Falls today. We came across it by surprise when heading the same way you were, and I remembered you had been there as we were hiking. One major difference I notice from your notes to todays travel is TWO of the bridges crossing the stream are now broken. Requires walking through the water to continue on :-) You are correct that there is a few mucky parts in the spring, but nothing too horrible in May, April was likely worse.

    We enjoyed the trail.

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