The next time you are planning a family drive or day trip you may want to consider Inglis Falls a your destination or a stopping off point. It is one of the many conservation areas in the Niagara Escarpment, located in the southeastern portion of Owen Sound. You can reach it from Highway 6 & 10 or Grey Road 18 or the Bruce Trail. It is the location of former grist and sawmills that operated there from 1845 to 1995 when they burned down. It is a beautiful scenic spot that most people find interesting. It doesn’t matter if your interest is in history, geography, nature, hiking, or are just looking for a spot for a family picnic you will find what you are looking for here. It all began in 1843 when Peter Inglis, a Scots millwright, immigrated to Canada and settled in the area. He saw the potential offered by the Sydenham River and purchased a small existing grist mill and 300 acres of Crown land in 1845. It was in 1862 that he replaced that mill with a new; four-story mill that; produced flour, bran, and shorts; for animal feed. His other ventures include a sawmill a quarter mile downstream from the falls and a woolen mill on the eastside of the river on the brink of the falls. The later mill was destroyed by fire around 1885, was rebuilt, and burned down again in 190l and never rebuilt. His eldest son William in 1886 and later to his son Victor, who ran it until 1932 when the city of Owen Sound obtained the water rights and the mill was idle for two years. Then it was purchased by Emil Henkel who ran it until 1945 when it was destroyed by fire.
In the early 1960’s The North Grey Region Conservation Authority took over the site to preserve it. All that remains of the mill operations are a couple of millstones at the entrance of the area, the one story family home, and across from it a short stone building, there is also the remains of an old fruit cellar. You will find is 200 scenic hectares of woodland paths, trails for hiking, with over 20 species of ferns and a variety of birds and trees or go cross country skiing in winter. One popular, but challenging trail travels to Harrison Park in one direction and along the Bruce Trail to Pottawatomi Conservation Area in the other. A portion of another follows the west side of the river to an old water filtration plant.
There is a viewing platform for those who can’t see over the stone wall, a picnic area, washrooms, and beautiful scenery as the Sydenham River runs through the property and cascades over an 18 metre cliff of the escarpment. The power of the water has carved a deep gorge at the base of the falls and on a clear day you can see down the valley to Owen Sound. There is also a Niagara Escapement Discovery Shop with displays, pictures, video, maps and visitor information. If you want to take in more of the area The Grey Roots Museum and the City of Owen Sound are only a shot distance away. And; to complete your adventure you can take a different route home.