Niagara Gorge Trail + Bruce Trail = Hiker’s Paradise
It’s that time of season to dust off your hiking shoes and get ready for some incredible hiking trails in Niagara. And the Niagara Region has a lot of them that many tourists coming to the area aren’t aware of, but are loved by the locals. Whether you are a serious hiker or just in it for casual fun, there's a trail for everyone!
Here are some of the “must-tackle” trails:
Difficult Hikes (for Serious Hikers)
The Niagara Escarpment (a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve) is at the top of the list for hikers. It’s a world unto itself, encompassing farms, recreation areas, sweeping scenic views, 1675 foot cliffs, streams, wetlands, rolling hills, waterfalls, wildlife and so much history. The Niagara Escarpment’s hiking trail is most commonly known as the Bruce Trail, which starts at Queenston Heights and takes a diagonal path 773 km through Southern Ontario to the tip, Tobermory on the Bruce Trail.
In Niagara, there are 130 km of trails associated with the Bruce Trail. Check out the Niagara Bruce Trail site to see what's happening in the area.
Medium to Hard Paths
Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area
This is a hidden gem known by locals, but one that tourists need to explore. The Devil's Punch Bowl is located off Highway #20 in Stoney Creek and is also referred to as the Horseshoe Falls. The land is owned by the Hamilton Conservation Authority. There is a stunning rainbow waterfall approximately 40 metres high. This trail is located along the Bruce Trail on the very outer edge of the Niagara Region boundary. It is complemented by a lower level falls that is situated only a few metres from the north reaching only 7 metres in height.
Here’s a bit of history for the history buffs.
Similar to the rest of the Niagara Region the rocks comprising the Devil’s Punch Bowl are from the Ordovician and Silurian periods dating back approximately 450 million years ago. The land started to take its current form after the retreat of the third Wisconsin Glacier. After the glacier began receding there were high levels of melt water remaining and several streams were created. These streams were powerful enough to carve the landscape into what it is today. The run-off melt water over the Niagara Escarpment was supported by enough pressure that it etched the bottom of the Punch Bowl which appears to be a bottomless gorge from some angles. Over time the water pressure receded and the erosion of the rock slowed. This gave the area receives its fame, as it is now possible to view the exposed layers of stratification which date back nearly half a billion years.
Niagara Gorge Trail The Niagara Glen is a unique spot of beauty deep in the Great Gorge that has been a designated Nature Reserve since 1992. Stairways lead to 4 km (2.5 mi) of paths that wind through a pristine pocket of Carolinian Forest, past boulders left behind as the Falls eroded through the area thousands of years ago.
There are many different paths to take: red, white, blue. Whatever path you choose, all lead to the thundering and wondrous Niagara River. During your journey, you’ll also discover interesting wildlife (such as salamanders, snakes or if you are lucky you might be able to spot the peregrine falcons nesting in the Niagara Gorge).
Jordan Hollow Park Hiking This is another family friendly hiking trail that the whole family will enjoy. If you take the Twenty Valley Trail to Ball's Falls Conservation Area heading south, you will actually pass under King Street at the bridge. This is a beautiful walk with stairs to make your climb through the valley easier. This trail eventually will merge with the Bruce Trail as you head towards the Ball's Falls historic village. This is a picturesque hike with a beautiful flowing stream alongside which acts as your guide.
The Niagara River Recreation Trail
This 58 km scenic paved trail runs parallel to the Niagara River from historic Fort Erie in the South to Fort George in the North. At the halfway point, you can’t miss the natural wonder, Niagara Falls. This is also a great trail for biking. You can rent bicycles at Mac's Bike's Rentals and Tours, located right on the property grounds of the Courtyard Marriott Niagara Falls hotel. Come and experience the incredible recreation trails in Niagara. Every time you come to Niagara Falls, there's a new discovery to explore.