Falling for Indian Falls
Evidence has mounted about the mental health benefits of being in wild spaces. Add a short but brisk hike and the reward of a stunning natural spectacle and you have the making of a perfect family outing.
The site and sounds of a waterfall move us in a way few others can. Instead of pointing your car towards Niagara, head the opposite direction to Grey-Bruce with its cluster of falls. There are numerous waterfalls in this region, but many consider Indian Falls to be the prettiest.
The walk to the falls is about 1km and should take no more than 10 minutes. At first it follows the banks of the Indian River, following its path through the woods. You then climb a wooden stairway to the top of the gorge. From here, the path skirts the upper edge of the steep gorge – there is no safety fence, so be careful with little ones – before emerging at the soothing falls in the midst of a spectacular amphitheater 75 meters wide.
For much of the year the river has a good flow, creating a picturesque veil as the water plunges 15 metres. In the peak of hot summers, however, Indian Falls can dry to a trickle – go now for best viewing.
Indian Falls is a true ‘plunge’ waterfall, defined by geologists as a fall where water cascading over the lip does not contact rock again until reaching the plunge pool below (Niagara Falls is a classic example). Such waterfalls are formed when a hard cap rock, in this case grey dolostone, forming the edge of the water is underlaid by various softer rocks, here shale and sandstone. The result is a lip of hard rock that protrudes beyond softer rock below.
Most people don’t stop to consider where the name Indian Falls originates, but there’s a fascinating story there. Following the Indian Treaty of 1836, a Reserve along the western shore of Owen Sound was set aside for a First Nations band and the village of Newash, with fourteen log houses, a school, and a chapel was established. In 1857, the reserve was ceded to the government, but the First Nations presence is remembered in the names of Indian Creek and Indian Falls.
When you’re alone with just the soothing sounds of nature for company, and when the sun catches the plummeting water just-right, there’s something almost mesmerizing about this spot. It’s easy to fall in love with Indian Falls.