Main Trail Head 1
Mud Road Entrance
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Welcome to the Red Hill Valley
The Red Hill Valley is actually part of a larger watershed, an area in which all the streams and creeks drain. The valley holds the largest of fourteen streams that once flowed through Hamilton.
In 1794, Governor Simcoe ordered John Green to cut a wide roadway through the woods. Mrs. Simcoe wrote that the “country will derive great benefit by opening a road on top of the mountain,” from Niagara to the head of the lake. That frontier road became what is now Mud Street.
“Looking out over the valley, one can only imagine what the flow of water once must have been to carve out the large gorge. The original gorge was carved by glacial meltwaters around 10,000 years ago and over the years, the stream was reduced to a thin ribbon of water. Settlement in the area has further reduced the water flow to an intermittent stream.” (Hamilton Conservation Authority)
Trails: Past and Present
Mud Road was built upon an old indigenous trail, as was the Queen Elizabeth Highway below us. Connecting those trails were ancient trails used by the indigenous hunters seeking our game, fish and plants. For countless generations, the Red Hill Valley was both a transportation corridor and a home for the indigenous people. It also served a trail for the loyalist settlers who came here after the American Revolutionary war to establish new homes, farms and industry. Approximately one-third of the estimated 250,000 colonists who had remained loyal to Britain fled to other British Possessions. About 40,000 traveled north to what was then British North America (Canada) with the majority settling initially in the Maritimes. An estimated 7,000 Loyalists settled in Upper Canada (Ontario).
Crossroads of Culture
Water and people cut passageways through the Valley. The Red Hill Creek cut its own path down the escarpment, after many years. The original gorge was caused by melting glaciers, about 11,000 years ago. The land was more like a tundra back then, and the Indigenous People, the first humans in this area, were thought to follow the migrating herds of big animals, arriving about 10,000 years ago.
The flow of water gradually reduced over the years to a thin ribbon of water. As farmsteads and homes were developed, the course of that water was changed. Now, we have restored to the Red Hill Creek to where it was 11,000 years ago, in order to improve its chances of being a living creek once again.
The first Indigenous People left little evidence of their occupation. Their oldest encampment was along the Escarpment. One of the first Loyalist settlements was called Albion Mills, or the Village of Mount Albion. William Davis, a former North Carolinian plantation owner who sided with the British in the American Revolution, was granted the waterfall and 500 acres (202 hectares) in 1792.
By 1800 Albion Mills was a thriving area, with a gristmill, saw mill, three hotels, a general store and a blacksmith shop.