These Niagara hiking trails feature beautiful scenery, intriguing landscapes, and interesting places to explore. If you think that Niagara region is all about that one famous waterfall and that’s it, you need to read this blog post. There are so many brilliant natural features all over Niagara, and I won’t even mention that certain waterfall in this article once (okay, maybe I’m talking about it now, but that doesn’t count!).
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Here are more than 10 exciting places to go hiking near Niagara Falls, including a few spots within the city itself. The Bruce Trail makes several appearances throughout these parks and conservation areas, which is no surprise because it’s one of the best hiking trails in Ontario. All of these hiking trails near Niagara Falls are beautiful in all seasons, whether you’re enjoying the shady canopy of the trees on a hot day or strapping on your snowshoes.
Niagara Hiking Trails at Niagara Glen
The Niagara Glen has some of the best Niagara Falls hiking trails that descend into the Niagara Gorge. There are 4km of walking paths that wind through the stunning Carolinian forest. At every turn, you’ll be able to marvel at the ancient rock formations, lush greenery, and impressive scenery of the Niagara River. There are several Niagara hiking trails here, and they’re very well marked and easy to navigate.
From the parking lot and park up above, you’ll descend down a multi-level metal staircase to the bottom of the escarpment. These hiking trails in Niagara Falls, Ontario begin from this point. There are numerous paths to take, much like a “choose your own adventure” book. I suggest making your way down to the River Trail, the true star of this set of Niagara hiking trails. However, all of the trails have fascinating natural features. You’ll pass mammoth boulders that date to the last ice age, and you can even go rock climbing and bouldering here.
The Niagara Glen is my favourite place to go hiking in Niagara Falls, Ontario. It has all of the elements of a great hike: interesting trails, dense forest, and spectacular waterfront views. There are some challenges in navigating across rocky surfaces and climbing some hills. But, it isn’t a terribly difficult hike and it’s great for most skill levels (even beginner hikers).
Best Hiking Near Niagara Falls: Short Hills Provincial Park
Short Hills Provincial Park is the largest provincial park near Niagara Falls, and it’s in the middle of the Niagara Peninsula. There are many small hills that formed during the last ice age, hence the park’s name. Short Hills Provincial Park is a “non-operating” provincial park, meaning that there are no facilities or camping. That also means that it is free to visit and park your car.
There are seven hiking trails at Short Hills Provincial Park, as well as the Bruce Trail (the longest trail at the park). Three trails are meant for hiking only (marked by blue blazes) and three are multipurpose trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding (marked by yellow blazes). One of the highlights of Short Hills PP is Swayze Falls, although this beautiful waterfall tends to dry up during the summer and fall.
A section of the Bruce Trail at Short Hills Provincial Park is called the Rim of Africa Friendship Trail because it is twinned with the Rim of Africa trail. The Rim of Africa is a mountain passage through the Cape Mountains in the south of Africa. It’s an extraordinarily diverse region that needs to be protected. It takes 52 days to hike the Rim of Africa. Even though the Bruce Trail’s Rim of Africa Friendship Trail is only a short distance by comparison, their conservation missions are very similar.
Hiking Falls Hiking Trails: Woodend Conservation Area
Woodend Conservation Area is one of the best hiking trails in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Technically, Woodend Conservation Area is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, although it’s geographically between Niagara Falls and St. Catharines. It has some of the top Niagara hiking trails if you’re looking for any in the Niagara region. The Bruce Trail is the main hiking trail at Woodend Conservation Area.
For the most part, you’ll follow the well marked white blazes of the Bruce Trail. While hiking in Niagara at Woodend Conservation Area, you’ll meander through dense forests at the edge of the escarpment. These are marked by very intriguing and huge rock formations. The Woodend Side Trail links the starting and ending point to create a loop trail that’s about 3.5km long. You can continue hiking beyond Woodend Conservation Area on the Bruce Trail.
Hiking Trails Near Niagara Falls: St. Johns Conservation Area
St Johns Conservation Area offers more amazing hiking near Niagara Falls. You’ll find this park in the town of Fonthill, between Niagara Falls and St. Catharines. There are a number of memorable features, including a scenic pond, lush forests, wooden boardwalks, and small hills. Much like Short Hills Provincial Park, this landscape formed during the last ice age, creating all of the short hills to walk up and down.
There are four main colour coded trails at St. Johns Conservation Area, and they all loop and interconnect with one another. There are many trail markers that will help you find your way. I do recommend tackling the white trail. It’s the most challenging trail at the park with some elevation, but it’s nothing too crazy. It is the longest trail and one of the best places to hike in Niagara.
Hiking in Niagara: Laura Secord Legacy Trail
The Laura Secord Legacy Trail is one of the longest Niagara hiking trails, a 32km path in the Niagara region. Laura Secord is a hero of the War of 1812. She walked for 32km out of American occupied territory to warn the British of an impending attack. The Laura Secord Legacy Trail follows the journey that she walked in the 1800s. It’s some of the best hiking in Niagara for its nature and its historical significance.
You’ll begin your hike at the Laura Secord Homestead in Queenston and finish at the Decew House Heritage Park in Thorold. The Friends of Laura Secord have put together this amazing trail guide to the Laura Secord Trail with turn by turn directions and maps. There are also lots of trail markers along the way. While I haven’t hiked the entire Laura Secord Trail, I’ve walked sections of it because some of them overlap the Bruce Trail in Niagara.
Places to Hike in Niagara: DeCew Falls
*** Please note that the Bruce Trail section of DeCew Falls and Morningstar Mill closed on June 19th and remains closed. Please check the Bruce Trail website for updates ***
DeCew Falls is one of the prettiest waterfalls in Niagara and you’ll be able to view it from the Bruce Trail. I encountered DeCew Falls and Morningstar Mill on one of my Bruce Trail hikes in the Niagara region. When I went hiking on this section of the Bruce Trail, I started at DeCew House Park where I left the car. Then, I walked around Lake Moodie and continued on the Bruce Trail to DeCew Falls and Morningstar Mill. I ended my hike at Short Hills Provincial Park for a 5km hike one way.
The easiest way to view DeCew Falls is from above the waterfall, although it may be obscured by trees and plants during the summer and fall. Morningstar Mill, an old flour mill, sits beside the waterfall.
Ball’s Falls Conservation Area
Ball’s Falls Conservation Area has an awesome set of Niagara hiking trails and two beautiful waterfalls to explore. This area is also a historic ghost town, formerly known as Glen Elgin, and established by the Ball family. There are gorgeous views, a collection of trails to trek, and interesting local history all in one place. Ball’s Falls Conservation Area is located in Lincoln, Ontario, not too far from St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.
There are five hiking trails at Ball’s Falls, including the Bruce Trail that ventures through the park. Most notably, you’ll want to take the Village Trail (1.3km) to the Lower Falls lookout, and then hike the Cataract Trail (1.7km) to the Upper Falls. It’s possible to view the Upper Falls from above and below the waterfall. The journey to the base of the Upper Falls isn’t marked and it’s across some jagged rocks, so take care on your hike (and wear proper shoes, too).
Beamer Memorial Conservation Area
Beamer Memorial Conservation Area is the farthest trail system that I’ll mention when discussing hiking near Niagara Falls. It’s located in the town of Grimsby, but it’s still managed by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, so I’ll happily include it in this Niagara hiking guide. Take the Lookout Trail to one of the most beautiful panoramic views of Grimsby, the Niagara Escarpment, and Lake Ontario.
The Bruce Trail runs through the property at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, and you’ll find yourself hiking on the Bruce should you decide to take the trail down the escarpment. There are also two waterfalls at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, the Beamer Upper Falls and Lower Falls. You can view Beamer Upper Falls from above at the side of Ridge Road West. It’s also possible to access the base of the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls by following the riverbed of Forty Mile Creek.
Hiking Trails in Niagara Region: Louth Conservation Area
Louth Conservation Area is a hike on the Niagara section of the Bruce Trail. While you’ll be able to stick mostly to the Bruce Trail to experience this small park, you can also hike on the Louth Side Trail to extend your trip. It’s said to be one of the best kept secrets of the Niagara region. That may be true: when I trekked these Niagara Falls trails, I didn’t see another soul.
One main highlight of Louth Conservation Area is Louth Falls, although it tends to completely dry up in the summer months. I suggest hiking at Louth Conservation Area in the spring for the best change to view the waterfall, or perhaps in the winter to admire a frozen waterfall.
Cave Springs Conservation Area
Cave Springs Conservation Area is yet another little known park in the Niagara region, specifically in Lincoln, Ontario. There’s no parking lot or facilities at this park. You can only access Cave Springs Conservation Area by hiking the Bruce Trail. There’s a small area to park your car on Quarry Road near an access point to the Bruce Trail. From there, you can hike in one direction to reach Cave Springs Conservation Area and walk on the Bruce Trail in the other direction to reach Kinsmen Park.
The Bruce Trail follows the edge of the escarpment at Cave Springs Conservation Area, and there are many outlook points across countryside and vineyards. You’ll even find a sign that memorializes the first blaze of the Bruce Trail, placed back in 1962. There are several other unmarked trails all over Cave Springs Conservation Area that interconnect with the Bruce Trail.
Rockway Conservation Area
Rockway Conservation Area offers amazing views of the Niagara Escarpment, as well as two waterfalls (that may dry up in the warmer months). You’ll find Rockway Conservation Area between St. Catharines and the town of Lincoln, along the Fifteen Mile Creek. In addition to the waterfalls, this protected park is situated on 126 hectares of Carolinian forest.
It’s one of the best places to hike in Niagara for its beautiful flora and fauna, as well as its seclusion. You can hike on the Bruce Trail and the Rockway Falls Side Trail. However, you likely won’t encounter too many people on this hidden gem of a conservation area. You can park for free at the Rockway Community Centre parking lot or in a small area on Ninth Street.
The Bruce Trail Niagara Section
The Bruce Trail is the oldest and longest continuous marked hiking trail in Canada. It runs along the Niagara escarpment in southern Ontario between Niagara and Tobermory. In total, the Bruce Trail is approximately 900km in length with over 400km of side trails. The Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) is responsible for protecting 16,000 acres of land.
The Bruce Trail Niagara Club section is 80km long between Queenston and Grimsby. It starts at Queenston Park and ends at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area. If you continue, you’ll be hiking in the Iroquoia Section of the Bruce Trail. You can follow all of my Bruce Trail hikes on my travel blog where I’ve been writing about my adventures on the Bruce Trail since 2013.
Map of Niagara Trails
Here are all of the Niagara hiking trails visually represented on a map. As you can see, not all of these hiking trails are within the city of Niagara Falls. They cover the larger territory of Niagara region. With that said, these are all within a relatively short driving distance from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
Looking for More Nearby City Guides?
If you’re looking for more hikes near Niagara Falls and looking for more city guides, here are a few other ones that you might be interested to check out:
- Top 10 Hiking Trails in Toronto
- The Top 10 Hiking Trails in Mississauga
- Top 10 Hiking Trails in Hamilton
- The Longest Hiking Trails in Ontario
What to Bring on a Hike
A proper pair of hiking shoes is an absolute must. It’s also a good idea to bring sunscreen and lots of water, too. My water bottle of choice is the GRAYL Purifier because you can drink ANY water from any source, no matter what. Water from lakes, streams, rivers, public restrooms, you name it. It’s the world’s fastest portable purifier. Get your hands on one ASAP!
Don’t forget to pack some bug spray because there can be biting bugs depending on the time of year. Even if there aren’t any signs, it’s safe to assume that ticks are all over Ontario hiking trails. Protect yourself against ticks by reading our guide to avoiding ticks on the trails.
Where to Stay in Niagara Falls
As for personal recommendations, Marriott on the Falls is always such a treat with spectacular views of the world famous waterfall. For a fabulous property in Niagara-on-the-Lake, I suggest staying at the Pillar and Post right in town. It has a beautiful spa and outdoor hot tub that’s open all year long.
Here’s a handy booking tool where you can see all of the Booking.com accommodations and Airbnbs in one place. It’s easy to compare prices and find the best rate for your trip to Niagara Falls.
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