5 Niagara Hikes
While you may not be able to venture outside of Canada anytime soon—let alone Ontario—there’s now no better time to make the most of the fall season within our own beautiful backyard. If you’re longing to get out and about in the great outdoors (while socially-distanced of course), there’s no better place than Niagara. While you may have only considered a trip to the region in the past to take in the famous falls, or to head to a winery or two in Ontario’s very own wine country in Niagara-on-the-Lake—you’ve likely been missing out on adventures big and small in Niagara region’s hiking hotspots, including Canada’s First Trail (number 5 on our list).
Only a short drive away from the city can feel like miles when hiking Niagara’s over 400,000 acres of vast, outdoor space. In fact, Niagara was made for socially-distanced, memorable adventures for friends and family to explore together. From high-intensity hiking to more leisurely strolling through scenic park trails, it’s easy to stay 6-acres apart in Niagara, but up close and personal with nature and the ones that you love (and that are within your bubble!).
With thousands of acres of parks and trails, where do you even begin? We invite you to Niagara to go “take a hike” with our top 5 hiking trails for your next socially-distanced adventure. Here’s where to start:
An off-the-beathen-path hike
Niagara Falls aren’t the only waterfalls you need to visit on your next trip to Niagara. Popular with locals, Balls Falls is perfect for those looking for a hike through history and off-the-beaten-path! Once a nineteenth-century settlement, this stunning trail runs along the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. Take a walk back in time as you hike by (and can even tour!) historical buildings including an operational mill, church, blacksmith shed, carriage house and more on the property originally owned by the Ball brothers.
The conservation area’s three trails include the Forest Frolic Trail, Switch Back Trail and the favoured Cataract Trail for those looking to take it all in. Hike or stroll this simple trail through the historical village along the Twenty-Mike creek, which eventually cascades over the upper and lower Balls Falls, a breathtaking sight to see! Be sure to pack a lunch for a scenic stop at one of the many picnic tables scattered throughout the area.
A short hike with sips and sights
Another local favourite, if you’re looking for a short hike, with sips and sights, check out the Woodend Conservation Area. Discover this unique section of the Escarpment, which was thought to be a lookout point during the War of 1812. You’ll be met with incredible views of Lake Ontario, vineyards and orchards. Hike the area’s two short trails—the Hardwood and the Silurian Trial—that’ll take you on either side of the edge of the Escarpment.
A hiker’s paradise, the iconic Bruce Trail and Trans Canada Trail also run through the area if you’re up for a longer journey. You’ll also find the 32 km Wetland Trail that is part of Laura Secord’s Legacy Trail here. As this trail runs through Niagara College’s Teaching Winery & Brewery, be sure to visit the award-winning destination for distanced wine, cider, spirit and beer tastings from up and coming talent.
A paved action-packed path
If paved paths that are action-packed are more your style, the Niagara River Recreational Trail is for you. This leisurely 56 km trail runs beside the Niagara River from historic Fort Erie through Niagara Falls in the south, ending at Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake in the north. Perfect for strolling, cycling, dog walking—you name it! Start by taking in the roar of the Niagara Falls up close. Later on you’ll be passing through some of the most picturesque countryside to see. The trail runs parallel to the Niagara Parkway, described by Sir Winston Churchill as “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world.” Along the way be tempted by local famer’s markets, fruit stands, artisan shops, restaurants and world-renowned wineries such as Peller Estates and Two Sisters Vineyards. There’s no shortage of things to see, taste and delight in on this trail!
Address: 3351 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara Falls, ON, Canada
An adventure seeker’s hike
For adventurous hikers looking for jaw-dropping scenery, including million-year-old rock formations, marine fossils as well as endangered plant and animal life—look no further than this hidden gem. The designated nature reserve has 4 km of rugged trials located in the Niagara Gorge itself. Hike eight fascinating trails along the edge of the Niagara River, while getting close enough to feel the rush of the river and the swirling 4,200-year-old Niagara Whirlpool. Spend as little as a few hours or a full day getting lost in the natural beauty of this area, home to one of Canada’s last pockets of Carolinian Forest. The turquoise waters of the river as well as astounding natural cliffs and boulders, make for awe-inspiring surroundings on one of the best hikes you’ll find in Niagara Falls. Be sure to visit the onsite Niagara Glen Nature Centre to talk through what trails to tackle with an expert or even take a guided tour.
A Bucket List Hike on Canada’s First Trail
No list of Niagara hiking trails would be complete without the Bruce Trail. The oldest and longest marked trail in Canada is a must for avid hikers to knock off their bucket list. The trail is 900 km long (not to mention its 440 km of side trails) extending from Queenston Heights Park to Tobermory along the Niagara Escarpment. In Niagara, the trail begins near Niagara Falls on the west side of a gorge along the Niagara River and continues to Grimsby and includes both the Balls Falls Conservation Area as well as the Woodend Conservation Area trails mentioned above.
Walk alongside some of the most beautiful scenery in Ontario, with the Niagara section of the trail alone offering more than 130 km to explore. Pass by the picturesque Decew Falls, the valleys of Short Hills Provincial Park, as well as nearby wineries such as Henry of Pelham and 13th Street Winery. Take in panoramic views overlooking Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Niagara River and out to Lake Ontario and Toronto, explore limestone caverns, historic buildings, monuments and more. From day to multi-day trips, check out https://brucetrail.org/ to plan your monumental Bruce Trail trek in Niagara.
From hidden gems, historical hikes and iconic trails, we invite you to distantly discover all that Niagara has to offer with our boundless outdoor beauty. Just try not to get hooked on our hiking trails! They’re an exhilarating mind, body and soul experience that’ll be sure to reconnect you with nature, as much as your loved ones, and have you making your way back for more in no time.