hikes in Niagara
Packed full of beautiful waterfalls set along the length of the Niagara Escarpment, the Niagara region can be found within the Golden Horseshoe, an area along the western shores of Lake Ontario that is highly developed, but also features some striking scenery. Here, you will find beautiful forests, peaceful swathes of farmland, breathtaking waterfalls, and charming vineyards that effortlessly combine to form an exciting area for exploring the outdoors. Whether your next adventure is focussed on leisure or strenuous exercise, you can rest assured that a trip to Niagara/Hamilton will produce some amazing memories.
From the torrenting, world-famous waters of Niagara Falls to the 100+ smaller waterfalls surrounding the city of Hamilton, dramatic scenery abounds in this charming region. Easily accessible from the Greater Toronto Area, there are plenty of options to explore the wonderful landscapes here that range from cycling tours through picturesque vineyards, to rock climbing along the escarpment, and everything in between. You don’t need to be a seasoned adventurer to explore the terrain of southeastern Ontario; all you need is the willingness to step out of your comfort zone and experience all that this amazing region has to offer.
10 Epic Hikes In Niagara
A hiking trip through the Niagara region can take many forms; however, the Niagara Escarpment - a geological feature that was formed during the last ice age and dominates the southern part of the province - will likely be a prominent landmark throughout many of your adventures. The elevated and rocky terrain of the escarpment creates a stark contrast to the flat farmland and forests that can also be found in the region, making for a nice variety of terrain that offers a good amount of options when it comes to hiking trails. Thanks to this variety, both experienced hikers and beginners will feel right at home on the trails, and with plenty of beautiful and dramatic scenery, your next trek in the area is sure to be a memorable one. Check out this list of ten amazing hikes in Niagara/Hamilton that we’ve put together below:
- Niagara Whirlpool Trail: This quick adventure offers hikers the chance to check out the naturally occurring Niagara Whirlpool, formed over 4000 years ago and located just downstream of the famous Niagara Falls. Featuring charming forest scenery, this route descends some steep terrain into the Niagara Gorge for absolutely amazing views over the water.
- Ball's Falls Loop: One of the more commonly hiked routes in Niagara, this fantastic trail features charming historical buildings and an easy to navigate path. Remnants of old 19th century mining operations can be found throughout the area, complete with a village that can be explored by curious hikers. This is a wonderful hike for the whole family.
- Decew Falls Loop: Another route with great historical elements, the Decew Falls Loop will take you past a 19th century grain mill for views of a scenic waterfall. A quick and easy hike with plenty of beautiful scenery, this is a great adventure for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels and interests.
- Canterbury, Sherman, and Washboard Falls Hike: This awesome hike near Hamilton will truly show why it is known as the city of waterfalls. After making your way through a lovely bit of forest, you will pass by three stunning waterfalls set along the Niagara Escarpment, offering a great way to escape from the chaos of the outside world.
- Queenston Heights via Bruce Trail: A charming stretch of trail that sets out from Queenston Heights Park in Niagara, this hike will take you along the escarpment for some beautiful views and a good amount of exercise.
- Mount Nemo Loop: Located just outside of Burlington, this is another fantastic hike along the Niagara Escarpment that takes you uphill for stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Easy terrain and well-maintained paths make this a popular route for families to get out and explore nature.
- Scarlet Tanager to Hemlock Valley Hike: A lovely hike through Short Hills Provincial Park, this route will lead you across undulating hills and through beautiful swathes of forest, serving as the perfect means to escape the hustle and bustle of the city to reconnect with the natural world.
- Niagara River Recreational Trail: A busy but visually stunning route in Niagara, this trail will expose you to some of the most beautiful scenery along the length of the Niagara River, including the iconic Horseshoe Falls. This is a lengthy route; however, you can turn back at any time as it is an out-and-back format.
- Black Walnut and Swayze Falls Loop: Another beautiful hike through Short Hills Provincial Park, this time, you will pass through the charming forests on a loop that will bring you to a series of stunning waterfalls. There is a bit of steep terrain along this route; however, it is more than suitable for beginners that are looking for a challenge.
- Woodend Conservation Area Loop: This is a fantastic family-friendly hike that will take you through the wonderfully atmospheric forests along the Niagara Escarpment. While out on the trail, you will be surrounded by charming mature trees and massive pieces of rock that make up the escarpment, serving as a great way to get acquainted with the geology of the area.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Niagara?
Thanks to its location between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, the Niagara and Hamilton regions generally experience milder winter weather than other parts of the province. This has the effect of lengthening the hiking season, creating reasonably favourable trail conditions from April through to November. While the height of summer will always be the time of year when trails are the busiest, hiking during the shoulder seasons is a great way to experience the beauty of the area without the throngs of other hikers and tourists. This also has the added bonus of more dramatic waterfall scenery in the spring and the lovely changing of foliage colours that comes with autumn.
Other Outdoor Activities in the Niagara Region
In addition to hiking, there are a number of activities on offer in the Niagara/Hamilton regions to keep you busy and enjoying the outdoors. Rock climbing along the escarpment, mountain biking, canoeing/kayaking, boating, and fishing are all popular summer activities, as are cycling tours through the many vineyards that can be found here. For winter sports enthusiasts, skiing (downhill and cross-country), snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and ice climbing on frozen waterfalls are great options to take advantage of the beautiful landscape.
Frequently Asked Questions About Niagara
Is Niagara Falls in Canada or the United States?
With three separate waterfalls packed into a small geographic area along the Niagara River, Niagara Falls is actually located in both countries. The American and Bridal Veil falls can be found on the American side of the border, while the much larger and more iconic Horseshoe Falls are located on the Canadian side.
Why is Hamilton called the city of Waterfalls?
Thanks to its location along the rocky, elevated terrain of the Niagara Escarpment, Hamilton and the surrounding area features over 100 waterfalls, providing its fairly apt nickname “the city of waterfalls”.Read More
The best hikes in Niagara
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