Getting Around Hamilton is So Easy

Welcome to Hamilton sign

For newcomers or visitors to any unfamiliar city, driving through its streets can be tricky.

When it comes to transportation in Hamilton, there are two myths which seem to perpetuate themselves for non-residents.

And they are:

  • Getting up and down Hamilton Mountain is a pain
  • Navigating all the one-way streets downtown is almost impossible

The reality is that Hamilton has a smart network of roads and highways designed to get you from one end of the city (for example, Harmony on Twenty, located on the southern end of the mountain) to the other quickly and easily.

So if you plan on moving to Hamilton anytime soon, make sure you become familiar with these routes (click on each image to view a larger version).

Mountain accesses

As a city, Hamilton is divided into two parts:

  • The mountain: The “upper” part of the city (where DeSozio Homes just happens to be located)
  • The lower city: The northern part of Hamilton, including downtown and Hamilton Harbour

Getting up and down the mountain is easy because there are roads (called mountain accesses) throughout the city connecting the two.

Some of the more prominent mountain accesses include:

James Street Access

Located near St. Joseph’s Hospital, the James Street Access winds its way up (or down) the mountain, providing some breathtaking views of downtown Hamilton.

It only takes about 5 minutes to drive and when you reach the top, you’re at the foot of Upper James Street and the Concession Street shopping district.

Kenilworth Access

Lawrence Road travels east-to-west at the very foot of the mountain (it’s probably the road that’s closest to it).

The Kenilworth Access exits off Lawrence Road. As you drive up, you can take it towards either Mountain Brow Road or Upper Ottawa Street.

Sherman CutSherman Cut

The Sherman Cut is unique because it has travel time restrictions. Northbound (going down) is open for morning rush hour. Southbound (going up) opens during the afternoon rush hour.

Driving through the Sherman Cut is impressive, as it’s literally carved into the mountain. When you reach the top, you’ll find yourself at the base of Upper Sherman Avenue, near the Juravinksi Hospital.

Centennial Parkway (Highway 20)

Perhaps the biggest and most widely used mountain access is Centennial Parkway, located at the border of Hamilton and Stoney Creek.

From the north end at Lake Ontario to the bottom of the mountain, Centennial Parkway is a regular two lane road (with traffic lights and sidewalks).  As you drive up the mountain, the speed increases and it becomes a highway

In-town highways

West end of the Linc

Not including provincial highways around the city (we’ll talk about those later), Hamilton has two “in-town” highways.

And once again, Hamilton Mountain plays a big role in where they are and what they do.


The Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway

  • Distance: Approximately 13kms
  • Direction of travel: East-West
  • Terminuses: East (Mud Street), West (Highway 403)
  • Date opened: 1997
  • Nickname: “The Linc”
  • Speed limit: 90kph

Named after the Honorable Lincoln Alexander, “The Linc” is located in the middle of the top of Hamilton Mountain.

Before “The Linc”, motorists (and large truck drivers) would have to travel through thoroughfares and residential streets to cross the mountain.

Today, they can hop on “The Linc”, speed up to 90kph and get from one end to the other in around 15 minutes.

Red Hill Valley Parkway

  • Distance: Approximately 6kms
  • Direction of travel: North-South
  • Terminuses: East (Mud Street/Lincoln Alexander Parkway interchange), West (Queen Elizabeth Way)
  • Date opened: 2007
  • Nickname: “The Red Hill”
  • Speed limit: 90kph

Before 2007, there was no way to get down the mountain if you were on its east end (Highway 403 goes up and down the mountain on the west end).

With construction of “The Red Hill”, drivers and commuters could get from the top of Hamilton Mountain to Lake Ontario (where the Queen Elizabeth Way is located) in around 10 minutes.

Once at the QEW, “The Red Hill” gives you the option to either travel towards Niagara Falls or Toronto.


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Provincial highways

Wrapped around Hamilton (like a giant hug) are provincial highways which connect Hamilton to other cities and destinations.

Getting to – and on – these highways is incredibly convenient; in fact, no matter where you are in Hamilton, you’re just minutes away from accessing a provincial highway.

Hamilton, Ontario, Highway 403Highway 403

Located on the west side of the city, Highway 403 travels up and down Hamilton Mountain (that portion is sometimes called “The Ancaster Hill”).

When you reach the bottom of “The Ancaster Hill”, Highway 403 can take you to Burlington, Oakville or Toronto.

Or, if you wish, you can exit Highway 403 at the QEW Niagara and head on over to St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Fort Erie.

At the top of “The Ancaster Hill”, Highway 403 travels west towards Brantford and Woodstock.

Eventually, Highway 403 westbound connects with Highway 401, where you can make your way to London, Windsor and Detroit.

Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW)

The QEW is long (around 139kms in length) and Hamilton is right in the middle of it.

As discussed earlier, you can easily take “The Red Hill” down from the top of the mountain to reach the QEW.

Once you’re there, you can take the QEW Niagara (to Niagara Falls) or the QEW Toronto (to Toronto).

Come and see Hamilton for yourself

If you’ve been thinking about moving to Hamilton, there’s no better time than right now to see what it’s all about.

After all, you’ve just read about how easy it is to drive through town.

And if you want to know anything else about Hamilton or DeSozio Homes, you can always:

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