When you leave the lower city and head south up the mountain (never get used to that – the water being north, and the mountain being south) you encounter a whole new set of neighbourhoods with their own personalities.
The Mountain is definitely home to far more retail and “big box” environments, with Lime Ridge Mall and the car dealerships along Upper James. But it is not all suburban sprawl up here. The homes along the top of the escarpment boast the most sought after views of the city.
Scenic Drive and Mountain Brow in particular – the area is affectionately referred to as “The Brow”, there are many lookout points where you can park and enjoy the view below.
You can access the mountain via the highways – 403 in the west or the Red Hill in the West – and you can get from one end to the other via the Lincoln Alexander Parkway, more commonly referred to as the Linc. But of course you have the various Mountain Access roads from West to East:
- Beckett’s Drive (commonly referred to as the Queen Street Access)
- James Street Access
- Claremont Access
- Jolley Cut
- Kenilworth Access
- Sherman Access
- Upper Centennial Parkway and Mount Albion also get you access to the Upper communities in the East end
And the upper city is not only accessible by car or bus, many people use the escarpment stairs not just for exercise, but actually for getting to and from locations up and down the mountain.
Mohawk College on the West Mountain brings a lot of students to the area so there is a walkability factor to the restaurants and malls at Upper James and Fennel that appeals to that community, much like the area surrounding McMaster in lower Hamilton. Finch Espresso is local coffee shop that just opened in the Fall of 2014 to add to the more standard chain options in the area.
But the mountain is not all about suburban sprawl, the Concession Street neighbourhood has a very familiar downtown feel, and is growing in popularity of people that prefer to live on top of the escarpment, but still have a access to a traditional, walkable downtown core. It is home to the Juravinski Hospital as well as a vibrant BIA community. Some favourites include Papa Leo’s, Relay Coffee (formerly Redhill), Candiwerx.
The Zoetic Theatre & Creative Arts Company at 526 Concession is a 300 seat theatre that has been redone as a wonderful event space that hosts movie nights (think special screenings like Grease Sing-a-longs, Titanic on Valentine’s day, Rocky Horror) performers of all sorts and rents the space for special events.
You’ll find a lot of the major chain restaurants up here, from The Keg, Boston Pizza, Turtle Jack’s and a wide selection of your standard fast food restaurants. You’ll find them scattered throughout but there is a large concentration along Upper James – the very popular Spring Sushi has been joined by Spring Grillhouse serving up Korean BBQ. You’ll also find the every popular mom and pop Sub Shops – a trend familiar to both the lower and upper Hamilton’s neighbourhoods – we loooove our subs.
Some of the regions most popular waterfalls include Albion and Buttermilk Falls – they are easily accessible from the brow also linking you up to all sorts of trails. Some think there is some haunted history around Albion Falls as well! A popular route route among runners and walkers is to go up the Chedoke Stairs from the Chedoke Golf course, then take the trail along the scenic drive connecting you to Garth and go down the Dundurn Stairs.
The YMCA on Rymal also offers a great resource housing a branch of the Hamilton Public Library as well as a public pool and gym facilities. These services are greatly used by the family communities you find in the mountain neighbourhoods – there is a student area around the college, but beyond that, you find small family homes that are in pockets where young adults come back to raise their own kids.