“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” - John Muir
For decades, the Crooks Hollow dam and reservoir was a magical place, like a secret paradise known only by a small group of local residents. When the dam came into disrepair, there was significant controversy over the decision of repairing or demolishing it.
I recall at the time (2011 – 2012) that I was firmly in the camp of those that favoured repair over demolition. That didn’t happen, and the decision was made to remove it and attempt to restore the area to the state that it would have been before the dam had been built in 1916.
Since then so much has changed and in my opinion the magic of Crooks Hollow has only increased. With maturity, plants and small trees have grown and spread and the area bursts with colour and life. Insects and small animals have established themselves and the stream meanders serenely over rocks and past the bulrushes that line its shore.
Serving as a focal point, the rustic steel walkway across Spencer Creek serves to connect the trails on both sides of the water. It also offers a terrific vantage point from which one can survey the entire area.
What I particularly like is that the restoration plan left both ends of the original dam in place, adding guard rails and re-purposing them as lookout platforms. From here you can take in the expanse of this newly created oasis.
And an oasis is exactly what it is. On recent visits, I have been genuinely impressed with the variety and density of the wildflowers and the sheer volume of birds and butterflies to be seen which is nothing short of extraordinary.
Like a rich Cabernet, this gem of a spot seems to grow in complexity and in depth with each year as it matures.
Even with its beauty and accessibility, Crooks Hollow remains relatively unknown and it is rare that I run into more than a couple of other people any time I am fortunate enough to visit.
I look forward to enjoying its ongoing evolution and will continue to count it as one of my local favourite places to visit.