It’s time to get out the bikes and (safely) explore Niagara’s waterfront trail
Thanks to the Niagara Parkway, you and your family can enjoy all the gorgeous landscapes of the Niagara area on two wheels, safely and calmly.
Beginning in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the 55 kilometre route winds its way through some of the province’s most beautiful countryside, alongside the Niagara River and ending in Fort Erie.
Along the way, there are impressive views of the river and the Falls, as well as several wonderful places to take a break, taste wine, have a picnic or just breathe in the beauty of the scene.
Notes About Cycling The Niagara Parkway
- It begins at Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL)
- It ends 55 kilometres later, at Fort Erie
- It is wheelchair accessible
- The parkway is shared between cyclists and pedestrians
- It was once described by Winston Churchill as “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world”
- It is modeled on the same pathway that the area Indigenous people had used to travel between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie
- When the area was being surveyed in 1786, British troops requested that a path of 66 feet in width all along the river bank be set aside for public use. Oft ignored by area farmers, it wasn’t until the Niagara Parks Commission came into being in 1885 that the land was reclaimed as part of purchases to create parks at Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Niagara Glen and Queenston Heights. The parkway was created at the same time, to connect all the parks
Setting Out From Niagara-on-the-Lake To Queenston Park
There are several stops you can make on this leg of your cycling tour that are worth making: You can soak in a little bit of history and a touch of the grape too…
The reconstructed Fort George National Historic Site is a military landmark sits just outside NOTL. The site represents an important site that defended Upper Canada against US invasion during the War of 1812.
Depending on when you arrive, you might get to witness the Redcoats firing their muskets, the Fifers and Drummers playing their lively tunes or even get to taste some 19th century cuisine, cooked over an open fire. Being a history buff, this spot is one of my favourites and especially now that my sons are both old enough to take it in.
If you’re hankering for a spot of tea, stop in at McFarland House where costumed interpreters can give you a tour of the site, and a traditional afternoon tea experience.
Enjoy the world’s smallest church, the Living Water Wayside Chapel, along the way. Don’t forget to sign the guest book!
As you keep on going, you’ll happen upon a couple of well known local wineries, where you can stop in for a tasting (sans children, of course), a picnic and a beautiful view.
Reif Estate Winery is on the Parkway, and a little further along, Inniskillin Wines is just off the path, with tours, tastings and annual events. Riverview Cellars is a family owned winery along the Parkway where you can enjoy a tasting or a tour, along with a beautiful view.
After the wineries, you will roll into Queenston, where a stop is necessary to visit several important historical sites at Queenston Heights Park and beyond:
- Brock’s Monument is a 56 m. column shaped war memorial, dedicated to Major General Sir Isaac Brock, a hero from the War of 1812
- Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum is worth checking out if you have an interest in the evolution of the print industry. With over 500 years worth of ‘technology’ in the restored home of publisher and former Toronto Mayor William Lyon Mackenzie, you can have a hands on experience with one of the few original wooden presses left in the world
And you can’t leave the area without stopping in at the Laura Secord Homestead. If you’ve taken Canadian history in school, you know the story, but the short version is that while living at this location, Secord overheard American troops talking about plans to overrun DeCou, about 32 kilometres away.
Secord took old Indigenous paths, at great personal risk, to warn British troops, namely James FitzGibbon, of the impending attack and the victory that followed turned the tide on the War of 1812.
Knowing all that, how could you not stop in and pay homage to such a brave woman? (TIP: You can also get ice cream and the famous Laura Secord chocolates there)
From Queenston Heights Park To Niagara Falls
The Butterfly Conservatory and the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens make a great place to stop for a picnic or to spend some time enjoying the 99 acres of calm in these lovely gardens, both indoors and out.
For unbelievable views and even a hike down the gorge, stop at Niagara Glen. You can hike down and get an up close view of the Niagara Whirlpool Rapids. Another ideal photo and picnic spot.
Continuing along the Parkway at this point will lead you right into the heart of Niagara Falls, where you can enjoy the thrills at Clifton Hill, the views of the Falls or maybe cool off with a Journey Behind the Falls, or a boat trip to get up close and personal with this majestic waterway.
Niagara Falls To Fort Erie
Just two kilometres south of Niagara Falls, you’ll find the Dufferin Islands, which makes a great spot with far fewer tourists to take a break and even get a little birding in.
Roll along through Kings Bridge Park, where the Welland and Niagara Rivers meet, and find picnic tables and a wading pool for kids big and small to cool off their feet in. Then continue along to the Chippawa Park, where you can take a self-guided tour of this preserved battlefield.
From here on in, it’s clear riding through Black Creek and heading right into the town of Fort Erie. There are marked places of interest and views all along the way so don’t ride too fast, or you’ll miss them.
However you go about enjoying your road trip, do it safely, watch your surroundings and always wear your helmet!
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