Niagara-on-the-Lake • Niagara Falls • Fort Erie • Port Colborne • Wainfleet
Starting in Niagara on the Lake (read profile), the Waterfront Trail heads south along the 56 km Niagara River Recreation Trail–a wonderful, scenic walking or cycling experience.
Managed by the Niagara Parks Commission, this trail links Niagara-on-the-Lake to Fort Erie with an almost completely off-road path that follows the majestic Niagara River. Along the route you will find loads of cultural, historic and natural attractions as well as hundreds of events and festivals. There are restaurants, shops and wineries–and of course, the stunning world wonder, the Niagara Falls. The Niagara Parks Commission was established in 1885 to protect, create and manage parkland (3,274 acres now) along the Canadian side of the Niagara River. The Trail was constructed in 1986.
The Niagara River Recreation Trail is family-friendly. The only break in the dedicated path occurs in Niagara Falls, where experienced cyclists will use a short section of the Niagara Parkway with caution. Inexperienced or young cyclists can walk bikes on the sidewalk. Given the scenery, this is not a terrible hardship.
At Old Fort Erie, you’ll begin travelling along Lake Erie. From Fort Erie to Port Colborne the Waterfront Trail is completely off-road where it is cosigned as the Friendship Trail. The Friendship Trail follows an old rail bed which means it is flat, mostly straight, and easy to follow. Heading west from Fort Erie, you may want to take a short detour to enjoy Crystal Beach‘s white sandy beach and patios. In Port Colborne you’ll find restaurants and shops to explore. HH Knoll Lakeview Park is the city’s major waterfront park.
In Port Colborne you’ll find a trail junction where you can head north along the western edge of the Greater Niagara Circle Route along the Welland Canal Trail, an off-road path that follows the Welland Canal. This path links up with the Lake Ontario section of Waterfront Trail in Port Dalhousie, St. Catharines. It is part of the popular regional cycling experience–the Greater Niagara Circle Route. Running 170 km, the Greater Niagara Circle Route follows Lake Ontario, the Niagara River Recreation Trail, Lake Erie and the Welland Canal. A great weekend- getaway.
From Port Colborne, the Waterfront Trail follows rural roads that hug the shoreline in Wainfleet where there are three beach access points for those looking for a dip in the Lake and some excellent eateries along the route (east of Brawn) for those needing a meal. People interesed in camping should consider the Long Beach Conservation Area. While in the area, check out the Wainfleet Wetlands Conservation Area. It was a quarry until the 1960s though it would be hard to believe that today. Years of restoration work led by the Conservation Authority have naturalized the area creating a thriving eco-system that attracts birds and wildlife. Fossil enthusiasts will love this area. Hikers and walkers will enjoy trails in the Wainfleet Wetlands Conservation Area (check out the Quarry Trail) and Morgan’s Point Conservation Area, where the boardwalk and trail take through dunes and old growth forest.