The view from the bottom of West Cliffview Falls, which like several other Hamilton waterfalls emerges from a Mountain storm drain.

West Cliffview Falls Drain

Chedoke Creek watershed
Hamilton Mountain storm sewers

Construction Details:
moderate diameter RCP and RCB with arched concrete slide and exit passage

During the summer, you have to look very carefully just to know that West Cliffview Falls exists. Surrounded by forest and located on the western edge of the Cliffview Falls cut, it is almost invisible from Scenic Dr. or from Cliffview Park, which abuts the eastern side of the cut. In fact, my colleague and I almost didn't notice it as we attempted to spot a route down to the East Cliffview Falls drain (which proved too small and inaccessible to be worth reaching anyway).

The next step was figuring out how to get down to the outfall ledge. Unlike the falls drains at Chedoke Falls and Goulding Avenue, there is no obvious path down. Rather, a long, odious route must be located along a thin sliver of vegetated, dirt slope that has a lesser grade than everything above and below it.

Like the other west Mountain falls drains, this storm sewer outfalls through a beautiful rounded archway. Inside, this arched passage continues back for 15 or 20 metres to a large slide, and the daylight that bounces in here is a beautiful mix of blue and green, providing some incredible illumination on the walls. Above the spillway slide, the drain curves and becomes a standard Hamilton chamfered box conduit, if a little smaller than usual. Travel up this pipe a ways and it turns into a probably slightly newer RCP, which gradually shrinks from 1800 down to 1500 before you reach its beginnings at a small, grilled inlet on the grounds of the Idlewyld Manor long term care facility.

This is my favourite of the West Mountain waterfall drains. Inside, the graffiti of at least a couple different groups of previous travellers let's you know that you're not alone, and eggs you on with the frequent refrain "Keep going, we did it!" Once into the RCP, an older form of wall marking amazes and puzzles me. Various sections of pipe bear hand-painted dates (eg. "August 20", "Sept. 5", etc.), written by the builders in a hand reminiscent of comic books. In a few places we also saw a single set of tire tracks on the floor of the drain, but couldn't decide whether they came from a dirt bike, a mountain bike, or (most likely) a wheelbarrow.

At the top of the drain, after passing through some pipe you had to crouch through, we reached the previously mentioned inlet. Somewhere above, we could hear the sound of cars passing on Sanatorium Road.

Hard to get into, this is a nice drain nonetheless. And congratulations to Ryan, Rick, Jon, Derek and Lee for getting in here thirteen years before we did.

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Michael Cook is available to speak to your organization about infrastructure history, lost creeks, current conditions, and opportunities for change in our management of and communication about urban watersheds, and to work with teams proposing or implementing such change. Get in touch.