/ The Niagara Guide
Niagara — By Megan Pasche on March 4, 2010 at 9:23 am
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Going Green: The Best Hiking Spots in Niagara

There is a much quieter side of Niagara that not a lot of visitors get a chance to see. Sure, seeing the Falls is well worth braving the crowds, it is a magnificent site, but Niagara’s hiking trails stand in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Niagara Falls or Niagara on the Lake in the summertime. Niagara has hundreds of miles of premier hiking trails spread all throughout the region, and if you enjoy hiking, it may be well worth your time to explore a bit of Niagara’s nature.

Niagara Glen (map)

The entrance to the Niagara Glen lies halfway between Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake. The entrance to the Glen Hiking trails is across a field, and is accessed by way of a large, twisting metal staircase. It might be a good idea to grab a brochure from the gift shop which details all of the trails and marks them by colour; 4kms of trails wind through this unique Carolinian Forest .Once you reach the bottom of the staircase, you are free to explore wherever you choose. Follow the path for long enough, and you’ll end up beside the rushing rapids of the Niagara River.

You could easily spend the better part of a day hiking down in the Glen, so it is a good idea to bring snacks, drinks, and perhaps even a picnic lunch. Walking in the Niagara Glen is part history lesson too, as this is the spot where Niagara Falls used to be over 6000 years ago; it erodes a little bit more each year and is now located a significant distance away from this original location. The layers of rock in the Niagara Glen tell a story thousands of years in the making. If you are interested, books containing a geological history can be found in the gift shop.

The Bruce Trail

The Bruce Trail is an 800km marked trek that stretches from the Niagara Escarpment to Tobermory. Niagara actually has one of the most biologically diverse parts of the trail, as the Niagara Escarpment is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The Escarpment is a unique ecological system which is home to more than 300 bird species, 53 species of mammals, 35 species of reptile and amphibians, 90 species of fish, and 100 varieties of flora.

As you walk along the trails you could come across hidden waterfalls, historic sites, museums, towering cliffs, and who knows what else! You could take a day or two to wander the different areas of the Niagara section of the Bruce Trail and still not see it all.  Access points to the Bruce Trail are spread throughout the region, and it is probably best to get a map from the internet before you go. Although the trail is marked by white blazes on trees and various signs, there are still some parts of it that can get confusing if you do not have a map.  If a hiker were to trek the entire Bruce Trail non stop, it would likely take over a month. However, the Niagara section of this trail is the perfect place to go for a day trip.

Short Hills Provincial Park(map)

Short Hills  is an Ontario Provincial Park that has many different trails, some are specific to only hikers, and some are shared use trails, with bikers and horseback riders accessing them as well. All the trails are marked with a different colour, and there is even a beginner hiking path which can be used for those who just want an easy walk. This path is wheelchair accessible, so it can also accommodate baby strollers.  The most popular entrance for visitors is the Pelham Road entrance , where a large parking lot can hold several cars.

It should be noted that it is extremely easy to get lost in Short Hills if you veer off the marked path; it is definitely tempting at times because there are so many things to see, and there are always unmarked trails leading somewhere. Personal experience however, which involved having to hitchhike my way back to my car after wandering around aimlessly in a field for over an hour, has taught me two things about Short Hills: stay on the path, and stay on the path.

Maps of the various trails can be downloaded and printed off here.  Going on a hike in Short Hills is a great way to pass a summer or spring day, and lets you see a part of Niagara that so few visitors get the chance to experience.

There are tons of hiking trails in Niagara, but the three places that have been outlined here are the main places to go, and they have the largest variety of trails.  At any of these places you can hike for only a couple of hours, or you could hike for an entire day. Niagara can get extremely busy during the summer months, so hiking through some of Niagara’s most lovely scenery can just be a great way to get away from the crowds even just for a little while.

Photo Credits:

Photo 1: Flikr, wonkanerd

Photo 2: Megan Pasche

Photo 3: Flikr, R Hanson

2 places are mentioned in this post!
Click on the place name to learn more

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