Waterfall Detail: The first post master for the area was John McCormack. This area was homesteaded by many settlers in particular our Irish Immigrants. The settlement of Saddleback (also known as Mackville) is long gone but their influence remains with geographical names such as Duffy Brook, Tunney Road and Culligan Brook. It is strengthened by the catholic cemetery at the turn off to Vaughn Creek North Road. It is found on the western side of the road about 2 kilometers from Hillsdale. Although the earliest date is 1842, for Mary Houlahan, the next earliest dates are in the 1860′s. The Saddleback Roman Catholic Church no longer exists but there is an outline of where the church did stand at one time.
Flowing southeasterly, the brook begins in the nape of Saddleback Mountain southwest of Sussex which is the divide between the Hammond and Big Salmon Rivers. For the most part it meanders through alder swales and dead water collecting liveliness from brooks and creeks along its journey. It begins to converge as it tumbles toward Northwest Branch Big Salmon River and eventually the Big Salmon River Gorge. The sweeping vale forms an expansive meadow at the headwaters until narrowing slightly at the waterfalls.
Above the waterfall there is no ravine but an open meadow. The ravine below the falls tails away quickly and opens into yet another meadow yet restricted meadow. This watercourse is unusual for the area in that others are within a narrow ravine such as its sister Fall Brook which has a totally different nature. (Saddleback & Fall Brook join to form the Northwest Branch Big Salmon River)
There are so many old logging roads leading in the area. Some used over 100 years ago and are overgrown by the forest and yet others are maintained and used by ATV enthusiast. There may be a direct route but I reckon it is blocked by a beaver pond. The location of the falls means it is a long hike in until the beaver ponds are removed. This will mostly like not occur until logging activity in this area begins.
Visit Detail: Driving from Sussex Corner towards St. Martins on rout 111 we turned onto Saddleback Road at Devine Corner and drove out about 3 km and parked near the Catholic Cemetery at the Vaughn Creek North Road turn off. Unloading the ATV’s and camera gear little did we know what was intended to be a quick run to a couple of waterfalls on the Saddleback Brook would end up becoming an all day event?
Set to go we start in the Saddleback Road stopping once to checkout an old house now almost reclaimed by nature. After crossing the divide in the land we entered into the Saddleback and turned left to follow a logging road leading up into the notch forming the southern flank of Saddleback Mountain. Within minutes we encountered our first of many obstacles of the day. The road is completely covered over by a large beaver pond. Checking it out we decide it was too deep and therefore back tracked and take an alternate route. Returning to Saddleback Road we drove south and in minutes our way is once again blocked by the same beaver pond. The industrious castor canadensis “The Beaver” have taken ownership of the entire meadow and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it except adapt.
Exhausting our search for a circuitous route we headed back the way we came and decided to drive up around Saddleback Mountain on its north flank. Ascending the rough and washed-out Tunney Road was an event in itself and driving back down later in the day was even more exhilarating. Upon reaching MacDonald Road at the top of the plateau we headed south around the mountain.
From here it is a maze. I followed the “Intrepid Gallant” as we weaved and bobbed around multiple blow downs along the various old logging roads. On several occasions we are forced into the woods around obstacles, forded washed out culverts and into stream beds where bridges are washed away. Smaller blow downs we simply drove through. The small alders snapping against our helmets.
Within striking distance of our destination we are once again thwarted by the creature on the back of our nickel. At this point I question those academics and citizens of urban Canada who want to remove the beaver as our national animal. I say come out into the wilds of Canada and experience their ingenuity and engineering firsthand and you will stand, like we are, unpacking photographic equipment and beginning to hike the final kilometer to the waterfall.
At least the weather cooperated. The temperature at +9C was very comfortable as we hiked down the old woods road to the brook and then up to the waterfall. The over night temperature and cold water fashioned icicles and crystalline formations on the rock outcrops.