Ready to immerse yourself in Ontario’s past? Crooks’ Hollow Conservation Area is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. It’s home to an abandoned “pioneer community” with a trail past historical buildings. Here’s what to know.

This thrilling spot is part of the larger Christie Stream Valley natural area near Hamilton, just around an hour outside of Toronto.

As you explore the Crooks’ Hollow grounds, you’ll be transported to a time when pioneers shaped the landscape, established their community, and eventually abandoned the grounds.

According to the Hamilton Conservation Authority, the Crooks’ Hollow community was founded by James Crooks, a Scottish immigrant who came to the area in 1805.

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It had its industrial beginnings in 1801 after a man named Jonathan Morden built a sawmill on Spencer Creek.

“By 1829, this area contained the Darnley gristmill, a woollen mill, tannery, a distillery, linseed oil mill, cooperage, a general store, clothing factory, foundry, paper mill, agricultural implement factory, log cabins for workers and an inn,” shares the HCA.

The Darnley Mill was “gutted by fire” in 1934. The ruins were left and still stand to this day.

And visitors of the conservation area can embark along a historical trail past the ruins and remaining historical buildings.

One of the area’s most captivating attractions is the Darnley Cascade, perched 225 meters above sea level.

It may be petite with a mere 1.5-meter drop, but it’s the highest-elevation waterfall in the Hamilton area.

But that’s not all that stands out! The conservation area is home to diverse wetlands and a “hummock and hollow” topography, where sedges and ferns reign supreme.

So, whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply seeking an escape from the busy city, Crooks’ Hollow is a great option.

Crooks’ Hollow Conservation Area

WhereCrooks Hollow Road, Dundas