It's time to modernize Albion Falls, not close or rope off the bottom

[![Albion Falls (Photo: Florin Chelaru CC-BY via Flickr http://flic.kr/p/7eLEFg)](http://www.joeycoleman.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/4093970093_c0de316e9b_b.jpg)](http://www.joeycoleman.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/4093970093_c0de316e9b_b.jpg)Albion Falls (Photo: Florin Chelaru CC-BY via Flickr http://flic.kr/p/7eLEFg)
Albion Falls is one of Hamilton’s great gems and it is losing some of its beauty.

It has become extremely popular with dozens of people visiting on an average day and that foot traffic is causing a lot of erosion of the foot trails; making it dangerous for those unfamiliar and unprepared.

After four emergency services rope rescues this summer – including a boy who fell 10 metres and remained in hospital last week

Now the City will install “use at own risk” and “trail closed” signs around Albion Falls to discourage people from going to the bottom of the falls.

This is not a solution.

There are two possible solutions: remove the small staircase at the top and prevent access from Mountain Brow Blvd, or add stairs to the bottom of the falls.

I first visited Albion Falls at age 10.

To access the falls, I hiked from Kings Forest golf course along the creek trails.

Reaching the falls after the hike was a reward, and not much of a challenge. It did involve getting some wet feet from walking in the Red Hill Creek at points.

I continued to visit Albion Falls often this way. As a teenager, I enjoyed hiking to the falls on the weekend and spending the day reading a book under the canopy of one of the nearby trees with the white noise of the falls.

Visitors to the falls were fewer during this time and most were hikers wearing proper footwear.

I enjoyed Albion Falls then and I still enjoy it today.

I do wish for a return to the less busy days, it’s near impossible to find a quiet spot. While I’m nostalgic for the past, restricting access will deprive many of the enjoyment of the falls.

The Family-friendly Waterfall

Albion Falls is a family destination. When the weather is good, dozens of people visit every hour. It is conveniently located alongside a roadway with ample parking and flows well year-round. Other waterfalls close to roadways rely primarily upon runoff for their flows.

It’s the perfect family outing.

The viewing platforms and trails on the east side offer spectacular views from above, but nothing beats experiencing Albion Falls at its base.

Make it more family-friendly

People using the east side trail to the bottom has eroded most of the approaches. Each year, it becomes more challenging and dangerous to walk to the bottom of the falls due to this erosion.

This year, for the first time in 2o years, I had difficulty getting to the bottom of the falls while carrying the lights for the first illumination this spring.

Erosion has eliminated two of the previous paths,

The remaining ones are hazardous with slippery rocks and shards of broken glass from busted beer bottles.

It’s time for a second and third set of stairs to provide access to the bottom of the waterfall with an maintained pathway.

The City can add “use at own risk” signs warning of the risks of going off the path; the City cannot continue to allow the deterioration of the trails to continue until there is a tragedy.

Once that happens, it will be too late and the bottom of the falls will be closed off.

Let’s not make Albion Falls the new Websters Fall – a nature beauty taken away from all citizens.

(It is worth noting the first rope rescue of the summer was for a person who had a medical emergency while at the falls, not related to the terrain.)