Much of the Niagara region is still open country and striking natural landscape. With dramatic formations like Niagara Gorge and multiple pockets of historic landmarks, there’s plenty to discover during a cross-country trek. And there are several well-serviced hiking trails to pick from for the experience.
The most sprawling example of these trails is the Bruce Trail. This isn’t so much a single path as a massive network of hiking trails that cut across southern and central Ontario, from Queenston to Tobermory. The main trail is 885km long, with side trails that emerge from the main line. Some runoffs from the Bruce trail are significant on their own, such as the Ball’s Falls conservation area near Vineland or the Brock Tour in Queenston.
The Bruce Trail is a massive amount of ground, so more casual hikers and riders typically stick to a couple of the subdivisions for their own use. The ‘Niagara section’ alone encompasses about 130km worth of trails. Difficulty varies wildly – the sections closer to Niagara are generally moderate but other sections may have harsher ground.
The Niagara Glen overlooks the rapid waters of the Niagara River and the natural phenomenon that is the Niagara River Whirlpool. Offers glimpses of the region’s natural diversity, Niagara Glen is a pocket of protected parkland running along Niagara Gorge north of Niagara Falls and is locally famous for being a relatively untouched pocket of Carolinian forest, the type of forestland that once covered much of the escarpment before colonial settlement. They’re rough roads with some slopes but not too difficult for any hiker keeping their wits about them.
More remote pockets offer a feeling of seclusion in the hilly ground west of Niagara. The St John’s Conservation Area can be reached by striking out for the highways between St Catharines and Welland, and offer a variety of areas for exploration, such as the relatively flat but lush Sassafras Tour or the wilder Short Hills circuit.
And this is just a taste of the more popular and publicized treks. Ask the locals and plan your own routes to get the best personal experience. Remember to plan ahead and notify someone where you’re going for the day, and then you’re free to enjoy the walk.