2022/08/01 – West Harbour / South Cootes

Good morning from the West Harbour area of Hamilton. I’ll be following the waterfront here, starting from the restricted industrial area and heading west to the Desjardins Canal, where I’ll then trace the south shore of Cootes Paradise. Let’s go.

First stop is the freshly redone Pier 8, adjacent to the HMCS Haida. Good reclamation of the waterfront for the public and a nice design as well.

Lots of seating, a beach area, stormwater wetland bunkers, playground and tables for eating, all on the water for free. Hats off to the city, this is well done. And it’s shows with the number of parents and kids here, early on a holiday Monday morning.

Onto some of the older public waterfront, where the longtime marinas reside. Still good public access all along here, plenty of trees, and lots and lots of seating.

Onto and around Piers 5, 6 and 7, which are under construction to allow better public access. It’s going to be good. It looks like it’s done and good on the west side, even if marina club members feel entitled to park on the walkways.

Still a work in progress I guess. It appeared that the royal yacht club still restricted a portion of Pier 5, but there’s a public boardwalk after all, accessible from the west side only. Missing a bridge over the gap.

Back to the good stuff. Pier 4 is one of your peninsula parks, made of natural ground, with large mature trees and an armour stone perimeter, and featuring a beach. Yet another great playground and splash pad for the kids too. This is what makes a great and inclusive waterfront.

A sign of great things to come. Literally. Here’s a sign notifying a former marina that the City would not renew their lease when it expired 4 years ago. I’m curious if the marina next door will head for the same fate, as it’d unlock the current gauntlet through here.

Now to another great peninsula park, Bayfront Park. Same formula as Pier 4 for the most part, just bigger. Wish the sun would cooperate, it’d make all of this really pop, but you get the gist.

The northwest point, with more views all around. Also, a reminder that there’s a railyard nearby, with lots of wheel screech, diesel fumes, bell rings, and the slam of railcars coming together. Still a nice park to enjoy.

Awesome looking beach, but not safe to use, so it’s deserted. The yard has quieted down a bit so it’s fairly tranquil. Lots of boat traffic up and down the slip here from the public boat launch.

Around the boat launch us a straight shot between the west tip of Lake Ontario and GO Transit’s Lakeshore West Line / CN’s Oakville Subdivision. We’ll used, well lit, well seated. More good views.

I’ve always admired Desjardins Canal as a gateway between 2 bodies of water, at least 4 significant watersheds, 2 cities and 3 major divisions of the province.

Under the infrastructure and along the canal, which features a fish barrier. This brings you to Cootes Paradise, a little bay that is owned by Royal Botanical Gardens Hamilton. But to get in, you take a trail slotted between the water and the 403.

Across Chedoke Creek, which polluted Cootes for four years unnoticed. Into the meadows and forests. The temperature has gone up without a lake breeze, but the shady woods are ok.

This is how and where you make a great natural hiking trail. Wide and cleared dirt path with select wooden boardwalks and lookout points. I’m actually surprised by the grade changes.

Huge descent from the tableland down into the bottom of the Westdale Creek ravine. Then way back up onto a ridge to Sassafras Point.

The point is alright. I expected more of a view, but I guess you can only do so much in a forest.

Doubling back from the point, down into Westdale Creek ravine again, and a slow climb again. This takes you to the back of McMaster University campus, near Ron Joyce Stadium.

One last small side trail, which takes you to a boardwalk nearly overgrown with cattails. Back to the campus, and calling it a day.

Date: August 1, 2022
Length: 15.9 km
Type: Shoreline

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