halton & hamilton

Adventuring The Limestone Cliffs At Rattlesnake Point

Rattlesnake Point, established in 1961, refers to the park owned by Halton Conservation that is a part of the the Niagara Escarpment. Only about a 45 minute drive west of Toronto, Rattlesnake Point is a great option for including in your day trip.

Entrance to Rattlesnake Point from Appleby Lane in Milton, Ontario.

Rattlesnake point requires reservations prior to visiting. You can visit http://www.parkvisit.ca to book, where each adult entry is currently $6.50 (as of Nov, 2020). Reserving was easy, I woke up on a Tuesday around 9AM and booked myself that morning for a slot at 11AM – 1PM. I would suggest if planning on going on a weekend, to book a day or two before to secure your spot. The maximum amount of time per reservation is 2 hours.

If bringing small children or pets, I would definitely keep a close eye on them. Some of the cliffs edge do not have any guard rails or barriers, and it would be easy to stumble off should you not be careful or paying attention.

In visiting alone on my day off, I decided to take the Vista Adventure trail which is 1.5 km in length. I visited in winter, and the trail (even though snowy) was a relatively easy hike. The trail consisted of packed dirt as well as large rocks.

Map of the trail system at Rattlesnake Point taken from one of the parking spots.

Rattlesnake point features some pretty awe inspiring views, including Mount Nemo, Lake Ontario, and Mississauga. It is beautiful the way the trees hanging on to the cliffs edge frame your lookout view. Some of the cedars hanging on to the escarpment are measured to be nearly 800 years old!

Views of Mississauga from Rattlesnake Point.
Views of Mount Nemo from Rattlesnake Point.

The topography of the park is fascinating in itself. In looking up at the escarpment from the plains, I can’t help but try and imagine the history behind how this great rock formation was formed. Being a part of the Niagara Escarpment, Rattlesnake point in particular features a rise in elevation of 290 – 330 meters high.

About 450 million years ago, there was a shallow tropic sea called the Michigan Basin covering the area that is now is the Great Lakes. Small sea creatures in this water died and floated to the bottom of the seabed, becoming compressed and forming layers of sediment over millions of years.

The actual escarpment is formed from differential erosion over the past 250 million years. The areas of cliffs that are now the Niagara Escarpment are capped with hardened limestone, making it less prone to erosion in comparison with softer-rock lowlands. Just 12,000 years ago, glaciers further modified the landscape and also left sediment deposits in the lowlands. Rattlesnake point is an “outlier” that had separated from the main Escarpment due to glacial activity and water flow.

Looking up at Rattlesnake Point. Be extra careful and aware of your surroundings when near the cliff edge.

While enjoying the scenic views, I also happened to come across various wildlife, including squirrels, songbirds, woodpeckers, and vultures.

These two squirrels were hanging out together and following each other around.
I spy someone’s winter home 🙂

I would definitely visit again, perhaps during the fall to see all the leaves changing colours.

Have you visited Rattlesnake Point? Comment below your experience!

Gilhespy, Beth. (2015). Escarpment Geology: Another part of our Living Landscape. Bruce Trail Magazine. Retrieved from https://brucetrail.org/system/downloads/0000/0782/BT_Magazine_-_Spring_2015_Escarpment_Geology.pdf

Rattlesnake Point. Conservation Halton. Retrieved on November 23 from https://conservationhalton.ca/park-details?park=rattlesnake-point

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