Hilton Falls Conservation Area, west of Halton, is a popular outdoor destination year round, west of Milton. In the winter trekkers come to hike, snowshoe and cross-country ski in this beautiful forest.
While not my first pick for serious trekking, this is an enjoyable classic cross-country ski destination for a recreational outing where you can take in some nature. It consists of 3 cross-country ski trails for a total of 15 km of xc-skiing.
Because Hilton sits on top of the Niagara Escarpment, the first thing you encounter is a short, steep climb from the parking lot. Walk it or scrabble up on skis doing what I call the “herringbone penguin walk.”
Fear not! This is the hardest hill of the day, and the rest of the way through the woods is a mellow journey a beginner can do.
The 3 km (return) yellow Hilton Falls trail takes you directly to the frozen falls, a must-see. The area was established by three successive sawmills a long time ago. The last burned down in 1867; only the stone blocks to hold the waterwheel remain. This is a recommended destination for a few photos and a snack break.
I saw friendly chickadees eating out of hikers’ hands. The park suggests using bird seed to entice them.
The 4 km Red Oak Trail loops around the reservoir and across the dam; the purple Beaver Dam Trail goes way in and around for an 8 km return trek. None of it is overly technical.
Actually, Hilton Falls is a better place for snowshoeing than skiing. You can go way back to the north and west beyond the park boundaries. Use the bike trails that are shared with Fatbikes for a better snowshoe experience.
I noticed that the signage needs improving, and others on the trail made the same remark. During the last three Covid winters (that sounds weird), the gate has not been handing out paper maps. The current signposts are labelled with a number and coloured arrows system. Without maps to reference, everyone is in doubt as to where they are. Staff needs to add a small map to each post.
Skate skiing on the wider paths could be possible but is not ideal. Expect lots of footprints, some also on the trackset portion, even though signs remind hikers not to step. (Sigh.)
Grooming is done after it snows, though not always that well and not so much on narrow paths. There needs to be more commitment by the staff to bring out more skiers.
The quality of skiing here is very weather dependent, being so far south, on the Escarpment, and with unreliable grooming. You need to pick the right day.
Because it’s conveniently located for many living close by, the parking lot can fill up on a sunny day. Currently, you have to pay and book a time online to visit.
For dining afterwards, try Milton or the village of Campbellville for nibbles and a hot coffee.