The Escarpment Rail Trail is a multi-use trail developed on an abandoned CN line. The trail extends from above the escarpment near Albion Falls, to the lower city. The trail offers beautiful views of the lower city, the Niagara Escarpment, and the Hamilton Brick Works. The Region developed the right-of-way into a pedestrian / bicycle trail in 1993
Trail entrances above the mountain are located at Arbour Road (Albion Falls parking lot), Limeridge Road East and Mohawk Road East (just east of Mountain Brow Blvd.). The trail follows the former CN right-of-way along the escarpment, crosses over the Kenilworth Access, then continues to Wentworth Street South (near the bottom of the Wentworth Street stairs). Upon crossing Wentworth Street South, the trail continues through the lower city ending in Corktown Park located near Ferguson Avenue South and Young Street. The section of the trail from Albion Falls parking lot to Wentworth Street South has a tar and chip surface. At Wentworth Street South, the trail changes and becomes an asphalt surface.
The HCA and Grand River Conservation Authority jointly own and operate this 32-kilometre multi-use trail which runs from Ewen Road in west Hamilton through the Dundas Valley Conservation Area to Brantford. It is Canada's first fully developed, multi-use interurban trail system. It's also a part of the Trans Canada Trail network. Links to Paris and Cambridge extend the trail to 80 kilometres.
During the mid 1800's, the City of Hamilton supported the development of two railway lines to meet the city's growing transportation needs; the Great Western (east/west) and the Hamilton & Lake Erie (north/south). The Escarpment Rail Trail was developed on a portion of the former route of the Hamilton & Lake Erie.
During 1835, a charter was granted to the Hamilton & Port Dover Railway (H&PD) to construct a line between the two communities. Funding was not available and the project remained inactive. In 1853, the charter was revived and the H&PD was officially incorporated. The H&PD succeeded in making the cut in the escarpment face but incurred enormous costs in scaling the Hamilton mountain. Construction of the remaining lines was postponed and the company later succumbed to financial difficulty.
In 1869, the Hamilton & Lake Erie Railway (H&LE) was established, which extended the line to Jarvis by 1873. In 1875, the H&LE amalgamed with the Hamilton & Northwestern Railway (H&NW) and extended the line to Port Dover by 1878.
The H&NW merged with the Northern Railway of Canada in 1879, and became known as the Northern and Northwestern Railway (N&NW). In 1888 the N&NW was acquired by the Grant Trunk Railway System. The Grant Trunk had previously acquired the Great Western Railway and numerous other small rail lines. The Grant Trunk went bankrupt in 1919; the Canadian Government placed it under the management of the Canadian National Railway (CN). In 1923, CN assumed control and became the largest railway in Canada. CN maintained active operations on this line for years, and after a period of abandonment, sold the right-of-way to the Region of Hamilton-Wentworth. The Region developed the right-of-way into a pedestrian/bicycle trail in 1993.
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