Road Trip: The Secret Grotto

Friday, August 12, 2016

I'm not actually supposed to tell you about this swimming hole. It's supposed to be a secret. It doesn't even have a name.

That, at least, is what the locals (whom I am sworn to not name) told me when they put the directions into Google Maps on my phone.

When I arranged to do a design presentation up in Caledon, Ontario earlier this week, I packed my little swim bag with a bathing suit, a towel and some play shoes, and decided to go find this secret swimming hole after my meeting was done.

I'm not supposed to tell you, so don't tell anyone it was me.

But this place is AMAZING, so here's a little destination guide, in case you decide you want to go too and not tell anyone you were there. I may or may not have made you a map. (*Read to the end to find out if I did or didn't.)

* * * * * *

Step 1: Get yourself to Caledon, Ontario

Have you been to Caledon? It's BEAUTIFUL!! Big rolling hills, rivers and hiking trails, gorgeous farmland, big poofy cloud skies.

From there, head west and drive through Erin, a cutie-pie small town. They have a good bakery there called Holtom's. I didn't go there, but you could and tell me how it is. When you get to a corner with a stoplight and see the Tin Roof Café, turn right there and head towards Everton.

* * * * * *

Step 2: Finding the right path

When you get to Everton, you turn off the highway and drive through the tiniest collection of houses. When you see the Everton church, you're almost there.

Soon after you pass the church, you'll approach a bridge, and you can park on the side of the road where the shoulder is a little wider.

And now here's the trick. My farmer friend said "Park and then just look around for the path. It's not marked."

Oh boy, is it ever not marked.

I found a wee opening into the trees where there was a sock dangling off a weed, and thought "This must be it!" I walked up into the very lovely forest and there was a trail marked with red dots so I thought, yes, this is it. But a little way in I met Matt, a green-tshirted guy with his little daughter who were in there for a walk and he told me I was going the wrong way. The swimming hole was on the OTHER side of the road.

So I went back and looked again. There's an old red barn there and if you look just beyond the guard rail on the bridge, you can see the tiniest foot path. That's the way.

* * * * * *

Step 3: Follow the sound of the waterfall

I should mention that this is a really beautiful little hike. Take a second and breathe it in, because it is glorious. But I recommend proper shoes because you have to climb around a little. I had changed from my design-presentation-shoes into sandals but they were not really sturdy enough. I also recommend that you change out of your design-presentation-skirt. But I managed ok, I just hiked it up when I needed some leg range and showed my butt to the forest a lot. Ahem.

Because this trail is not marked, and because you have no idea where you're going or how far it is, all you can do is follow your nose and follow the growing sound of a waterfall.

And then, all of a sudden, you're there. The secret grotto.

* * * * * *

Step 4: The Swim

I'm not really sure what to tell you here, other than that this swimming hole felt like magic, and I felt lucky to be the only one there. The water is cool and refreshing and you can paddle around, and float, and explore the different nooks and crannies of the grotto. You can look up at the sun filtering through the ring of trees on the cliffs, you can eat the juiciest Ontario peach (which is what I did), or bring a bag of chips and a book and hang out on a rock for a while. You can marvel about the waterfall gushing into the pool, or you can hike through a little further and enjoy the forest. Then put your play shoes back on and head home.

And that's it for the Secret Grotto. Let me know if you go. Bring me back a cookie from Holtom's.

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