Valens Lake, Hamilton

Valens Lake, Hamilton

You may have read in my first post, or even here, that I really hate packing up all the gear needed for 2 kids, driving all the way to wherever, and then ….it’s a let down.  It was the main reason for starting this blog!

Well, Valens Lake Beach is the perfect example of a place that I’ve heard of a number of times, but due to lack of concrete reviews and info, I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble to take a chance.

It’s only about a 40 minute drive from Oakville, and the kids were craving a beach and rain was supposed to hold off for 4 hours….so we decided to take a chance and give it a go!

Valens Lake Conservation Area is located in Flamborough, ON and is part of the Hamilton Conservation Authority.  There is a beach, canoe rentals, swimming, fishing, trails and camping.

The reason for our visit was the beach and the trails.  You can google reviews for Valens Lake, but they mostly focus on camping, with only brief mentions of the beach.

Depending on what I read, the beach was either a hidden oasis or so bad that I will need to take a shower immediately upon one toe touching the water…..

Valens Lake Beach

It was nice….but…(more on that in a minute).

First the pros – the beach area was very relaxing with lots of trees and shade and lots of room for the kids to wander and explore.

Trees and green space around Valens Lake
Lots of trees and green space around the lake.

 

Lots of shade and open areas for picnics or lounging. At 10:15 in the morning we had the beach almost all to ourselves!
Water in Valens Lake
Perfectly still water on Valens Lake.

The water was ‘Canadian-warm’, you adjust-ish after a few minutes.  This is a man-made lake so the water gets cloudy when you move around, but it wasn’t polluted.  I saw lots of kids and parents swimming here.  I waded into the water a bit but I personally like to swim in water that isn’t as cloudy – you just never know when lake-sharks will surface, and I want to be prepared 😉

Kids exploring Valens Lake
Our kids enjoyed wading into the water and exploring.

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Sherman Falls and Tiffany Falls, Hamilton

Sherman Falls and Tiffany Falls, Hamilton

It’s obvious why Niagara Falls gets all the attention, but did you know there are a TON of other Waterfalls in the Hamilton area?

They’re not as big and thunderous as Niagara Falls and they don’t come with an abundance of overpriced trinket shops, but they’re still a great little excursion for your family.

A few weekends ago we visited two waterfalls.  Tiffany Falls and Sherman Falls.

Hamilton Waterfalls Close to Home

Hamilton is known as the waterfall capital of the world and there are some good sites out there to help you navigate them.  Such as http://www.waterfalls.hamilton.ca/ and http://tourismhamilton.com/hamilton-waterfalls and http://www.cityofwaterfalls.ca/

I chose Tiffany Falls and Sherman Falls for a few reasons;

  1. Easy access to the falls from the parking area (no long/difficult hiking with little ones and one of the paths is stroller friendly)
  2. Easy to get to these falls from the highway and close proximity to each other
  3. Free and almost free (Sherman Falls is free, Tiffany Falls was just 2 bucks for parking)
  4. Prettiness

As I mentioned in my About page, my husband and I are originally west-coasters and we still love spending time there.  We are always on the lookout for hikes and trails in the Halton area that come close to that beautiful scenery (not fair I know, but we still look!).

These 2 waterfall areas are pretty close to meeting that criteria!

Tiffany Falls
Tiffany Falls
Sherman Falls
Sherman Falls

 First up – Tiffany Falls

I really liked the trail to the falls and I would definitely go back.  I’ve seen some pics of this area in the winter and I think it would be a neat spot to check out when everything is frozen over.

Path to Tiffany Falls
Path to Tiffany Falls

Tiffany Falls is located near Wilson St. E. and Lower Lions Club Rd. in Hamilton.  There is a very small parking lot and if you are coming north on Wilson St. E. there is not a lot of warning that it’s coming up.

The trail to the falls is really beautiful and stroller friendly.  It is not perfectly flat and you will encounter a few spots with some rocks and uneven ground.  When you arrive at the falls, there is a viewing platform with stairs, but everything before that should be easily navigated with a stroller.

kids on trail
3 and 5 year old can easily walk the trail

 

Viewing platform at Tiffany Falls
Viewing platform at Tiffany Falls
Rocks on the trail
A few rocks on the trail but I would still consider it stroller friendly up until the platform.

 

I think it took us a leisurely 10-ish minutes to reach the falls from our parked car.

Path to Tiffany Falls
Leisurely stroll to Tiffany Falls.

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LaSalle Park and Wading Pool

LaSalle Park and Wading Pool

So Many Reasons to Like LaSalle Park

There are many reasons we like LaSalle Park in Burlington.  In a nutshell –  6 bucks entertains our kids for a few hours!  Specifically, a great wading pool, really nice nature trails with great scenery and a good playground.

Nature trail
Nature trail in LaSalle Park

 

LaSalle Park is located at Lasalle Park Rd and North Shore Blvd E.

There is no charge to get into the park , to use the playground or explore the trails.  The wading pool has a small fee of $3.35 per child and parents don’t have to pay (bonus)!

Finally, a real wading pool!

My kids hate splash pads.  Hate.  Back in my day, wading pools were everywhere, but now, not so much.  Bronte Provincial Park has a sort-of wading pool, but what I don’t like about that pool is that it starts out shallow and just gets deeper and deeper…

The LaSalle wading pool is a nice sized square pool that is shallow (only goes up to my knees!).  There is a lifeguard on duty and even a small splash pad area for normal kids who like that sort of thing 😉

lifeguard
Lifeguard at LaSalle Wading Pool

 

Wading pool
Nice size wading pool with shallow water.

 

Swimming pool
Water toys are available (but limited).

The small pool size + shallow water + lifeguard means us parents can sit back and relax a bit.  We can let our kids wade in the pool without having to constantly be right beside them.

They even have some comfy chairs available for lounging – but they are very limited, so I recommend bringing your own folding lawn chairs.  The deck around the edge of the pool is cement, but you are free to put a blanket down if you like.

deck chair at pool
Deck chairs are available or bring your own lawn chairs or blanket.

I’m a shade lover, so there is a decent amount of shade from the umbrellas and the trees.

There are signs that say no food or drinks but I see lots of parents feeding their kids so I”m not sure if it’s fully enforced.  Outside the pool area there are lots of areas to sit and have a picnic so that’s always an option as well.

Bathrooms – last year they had a portable thing inside the fenced area of the pool.  We went there on opening day this year (2017) and it wasnt there. Not sure if it’s will be back, but if not there are bathrooms located at the gazebo/shelter.

Nature trails

The nature trails at LaSalle park are a nice little trek in the ‘woods’.  Stroller friendly and very scenic. It usually takes us about 30 minutes to walk the trail.  The trail is somewhat of a loop, starting at the main parking lot (if you are facing the playground, the start of the trail will be behind you).

The trail loops around and ends near the boat launch area.  You can then walk up the hill (or the stairs) to get back to the shelter/pool area.

kids on the boardwalk
A lovely boardwalk with great spots to view ducks, swans and geese.

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