NIAGARA RIVER RECREATIONAL TRAIL:
FORT ERIE to NIAGARA-on-the-LAKE; ONTARIO CANADA
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: August 01, 2017
Length: Niagara River Recreational Trail; 34.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy. Flat paved trail. Some on-road sections.
To Start from Old Fort Erie parking lot in Fort Erie (Southern End); From I-190 in Buffalo, NY cross the Peace Bridge into Canada onto Queen Elizabeth Way. Take your first right up to Route 124 (Central Ave) and head right. Follow to Lakeshore Rd and turn right. The road splits briefly. Continue straight on Lakeshore Rd passing by Old Fort Erie on your right. You'll come to a parking lot on your left and the start of the trail.
To Start from the Nelson Street parking lot in Niagara-on-the-Lake (Northern End); From I-190 in Lewiston, NY cross the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge into Canada along Route 405. Take the first exit towards Niagara-on-the-Lake and come to Route 61. Turn right and follow Route 61 to the Niagara River Pkwy. Turn left and travel 6.5 miles (10.5 km) north to a 3-way intersection. Turn right on Ricardo Street passing by a parking lot for the Niagara River Recreational Trail. Follow Ricardo St into Niagara-on-the-Lake and just before a marina on your right is Nelson St.
The Niagara River Recreational Trail follows the Niagara River from Fort Erie and Lake Eire north to Niagara-on-the-Lake and Lake Ontario. It travels past Niagara Falls near it's mid point. Visit; NIAGARA RIVER RECREATIONAL TRAIL for more information.
The Niagara River Recreational Trail is part of the regional Greater Niagara Circle Route. Four connected trails combine to form a circle (north-south & east-west) along both Great Lakes, the Niagara River and the Welland Canal. At it's southern end this trail connects with the Friendship Trail that travels east-west between Fort Erie and Port Colborne. At it's northern end this trail connects to the Waterfront Trail; Lake Ontario/Niagara Section that travels east-west between Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines. Finally the Waterfront Trail and Friendship Trail are connected via the Welland Canal Trail that travels north-south between Port Colborne and St. Catharines.
The Niagara River Recreational Trail is also part of the regional Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. Stretching over 1,305 miles (2,100 km) along the Canadian shores of the earth's largest group of freshwater lakes, the GREAT LAKES WATERFRONT TRAIL consists of both on-road and off-road facilities. The Trail is about 30% off-road along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, and about 14% off-road on the Lake Erie, Detroit River and Lake St Clair section, and 4% off -road along the North Channel between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. It is primarily paved, with sections of unpaved path and gravel roads.
Starting from Old Fort Erie parking lot in Fort Erie; Across the mouth of the Niagara River is Buffalo.
Note; Heading west the wide sidewalk is part of the Friendship Trail.
Note; Across Lakeshore Rd is access to OLD FORT ERIE .
Heading north the paved Niagara River Recreational Trail travels alongside Lake Erie and the mouth of the Niagara River. After 1 mile, look left across Lakeshore Dr to spot Mather Arch Park . You then travel underneath the Peace Bridge before coming to the Niagara Blvd/Queen Street parking lot at 1.5 miles. Map board located here for the Waterfront Trail. The trail then winds through a small park before exiting out to Niagara Blvd. This next section is on-road (No shoulder) and Not recommended for kids on bikes. Continue north through the Fort Erie business district (sidewalk available) and after 1.8 miles you'll have more green space along with views of the Niagara River. Parking lots located along the river at various points. Not sure why they haven't chose to add an off-road trail along here. More then enough room. Just before you travel underneath a RR bridge at 2.8 miles, you'll pick up a paved trail on your left. This bridge crosses the river to Unity Island in Buffalo. Pass by Instinct Park where you'll find more parking. This makes a good starting point for kids on bikes. Pass by Bowen Road Park at 3.4 miles where you'll find a playground before coming to Central Ave. Here the open trail briefly utilizes Service Road 1 (residential access road) in place of the trail. This is the case all the way to Niagara Falls. Trail-Service Road-Trail-Service Road. Parking lots located at various points along the river. An iron bridge crosses Frenchman's Creek at 4 miles. Pass by Niagara Parks Marina at 6.6 miles where you can find refreshments followed by another iron bridge over Millers Creek. Cross another creek at 9.1 miles, followed by Black Creek at 10.1 miles. Pass by the Willoughby Historical Museum at 14 miles, cross Streets Creek at 15.3 miles and pass by the Chippawa Battlefield. After 16.7 miles the trail then crosses over Niagara Pkwy to a pedestrian bridge that crosses over the mouth of the Welland River bringing you to Kingsbridge Park at 16.9 miles.
The Welland River flows from Hamilton to Niagara Falls but manmade construction changes its path. When the water from the Niagara River is diverted to the hydro canal for electricity production, the Welland River flows backwards upstream as far as Wellandport.
Pass by the Kingsbridge Park parking lot (Fee to park here weekends, but free weekdays). Restrooms, playground, picnic tables. This is a great starting point to bike the Niagara River Recreational Trail north past Niagara Falls. As you travel alongside the river, you can see the mist rising from Niagara Falls. Pass by two large odd shaped buildings (Niagara Tunnel water diversion; 40 meters below) and the International Control Dam across the river. Informational signs along this section. The paved trail turns to pavers at 17.9 miles as it travels alongside the Niagara Pkwy. A walkway crosses the Ontario Power Screen House. Come to an intersection at 18.4 miles.
Note; Left takes you across the Niagara Pkwy to another intersection. Right a paved path follows the Pkwy north. Straight brings you to Dufferin Islands Nature Area where crushed paths circle the island. I haven't checked out these paths.
Continue straight across a bridge to Old Scow Lookout Point (Look right to spot the old Scow/barge in the river where it's been sitting since 1918. You then travel past the impressive former Toronto Power Generating Station. Across the Niagara Pkwy is the Niagara Parks parking lot (Fee), followed by the FLORAL SHOWHOUSE . Cross another pedestrian bridge at 18.8 miles past the stone Canadian Niagara Power structure. As you approach the Welcome Center look left to spot the NIAGARA PARKS FALLS INCLINE RAILWAY going up the side of the hill. Downtown Niagara Falls is located atop this ridge. Come to the Welcome Center (Refreshments, restrooms) at 19.2 miles. Here your afforded your first views of Horseshoe Falls. Further north across the river you'll spot the American Falls just past Goat Island.
Note; Along this section it's recommended you walk your bike because of the large crowds.
Continuing north you'll be directly across from the American Falls at 19.7 miles. To your left across Niagara Pkwy is Queen Victoria Park. You then travel around the Grand View Marketplace. If biking head left out to Niagara Pkwy to bypass the crowed marketplace.
Note; If you are only biking the Niagara Falls section this is a good location to loop back towards Kingsbridge Park along the west side of Niagara Pkwy. Follow the cross-light over Niagara Pkwy up Clifton Hill. On your right is the OAKS GARDEN THEATRE . This street defines "Tourist Trap". Cross Falls Ave and on your left enter Queen Victoria Park. If you continued up Clifton Hill you could connect to the Victoria Pathway and Olympic Torch Run Legacy Trail . Map board located here. A paved trail travels south through the park. Pass by a fountain, followed by the marble Park Police building before passing a Rose Garden and crossing Murray St at 0.7 miles and coming to the Welcome Centre. Head left down to Niagara Pkwy and continue right along the paved trail passing by Queen Victoria Place and Illumination Tower. Continuing alongside the Pkwy pass by the Nikola Telsa Statue before coming to the NIAGARA PARKS FALLS INCLINE RAILWAY at 1.2 miles. BIKE STATION located here. Travel down to the Niagara Parks parking lot and bear left which will bring you to a ramp down and across the Niagara Pkwy. Head right along the Niagara River Recreational Trail, past the Canadian Niagara Power structure via the pedestrian bridge back to Niagara Pkwy. Cross the Pkwy where you'll find a paved path that takes you past the FLORAL SHOWHOUSE then back alongside the Pkwy. Cross a body of water and come to a cross-walk on your left and crushed stone path on your right at 2.1 miles. Use the cross-walk to return to the Niagara River Recreational Trail where you can re-trace your route back to Kingsbridge Park or head right to check out the Dufferin Islands Nature Area. I haven't checked out these paths.
Note; The next 2.6 mile section of the Niagara River Recreational Trail requires biking on-road (narrow shoulder) or utilizing a narrow sidewalk. An alternative route is to utilize the Victoria Pathway and Olympic Torch Run Legacy Trail. Follow the cross-light over Niagara Pkwy up Clifton Hill, which gets a bit steep. This brings you to Victoria Ave after 0.3 miles. From here head right along the brick lined Victoria Pathway and paved Olympic Torch Run Legacy Trail out to Queen St after 1.5 miles. Continue straight on-road along Erie Ave (wide street/sidewalk). Turn left along Bridge St returning to Victoria Ave after 2.2 miles. Here a BIKE LANE heads right, crossing over the RR tracks, passing by Great Wolf Lodge bringing you to the Niagara Pkwy after 2.9 miles. A crosswalk will take you over to the paved portion of the Niagara River Recreational Trail.
Just past the Grand View Marketplace the pavers end and you pick up a sidewalk at 20.1 miles before traveling underneath the Rainbow Bridge. Here the sidewalk is very narrow at 20.3 miles so you'll need to travel on-road. Caution; Not recommended for kids on bikes. No shoulder. At John St you'll pick up a narrow shoulder. The river is obscured along this section. After 22.3 miles you'll pick up the paved trail as it takes you around the WHIRLPOOL AERO CAR then back alongside the Niagara Pkwy. You can view the Niagara Whirlpool here. ZOOM LEISURE BIKE RENTALS located here. Again, most of the river is obscured by trees. Come to Thompson's Point at 23.7 miles where you can view the Niagara Whirlpool again. Wild Adventure Course located here. The trail crosses the Niagara Pkwy at 24.2 miles and continues north along the west side of the road.
Note; Straight brings you to NIAGARA GLEN NATURE CENTRE .
Pass by the BOTANICAL GARDENS before crossing back over the Niagara Pkwy at 24.9 miles. Come to the Generating Station parking lot at 25.7 miles where you then cross over the Sir Adam Beck #2 Generating Station. Across the river is the NY Power Authority Power Station. After crossing over the Hydro-Dam a side trail leads over the Niagara Pkwy (Caution No Cross-walk) to the Floral Clock. Travel underneath the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge at 26.4 miles, then pass by the Locust Grove Picnic Area before crossing back over the Pkwy (Caution No Cross-walk). I haven't checked out this section through the Park. Here the trail travels downhill through Queenston Heights Park and out to York Rd at 27.5 miles. Across the road is the York Road parking lot. Head right over the Pkwy (Caution No Cross-walk) to York St, then left along a paved trail to Queenston St where a short on-road (residential) section begins. This brings you back to the Niagara Pkwy where you'll pick up the paved trail at 28.3 miles as it travels alongside the Pkwy through more residential. You then travel alongside the river at 29.2 miles. This is Wine Country, with vineyards dotting the route. Come to the McFarland House parking lot at 32.8 miles where you'll find picnic tables, a pavilion and play ground as you travel through McFarland Park and pass by another parking lot. Come to an intersection at 33.5 miles.
Note; Left brings you to the Ricardo Street parking lot, as well as, the Commons Loop Trail.
Continuing straight, the trail now travels between the river and Ricardo St before crossing this street and traveling inland along open fields past FORT GEORGE NHS . Come to an intersection at 34.3 miles just past a pavilion (water fountain) on your left.
Note; Left is part of the Waterfront Trail, as well as, the Commons Loop Trail which loops back to the Ricardo Street parking lot. Head past the pavilion and alongside the Fort George NHS parking lot and you'll pick up the paved Waterfront Trail on your left. Cross Queen's Parade to an open field through The Commons. Informational signs all along this route. Come to an intersection at 0.5 miles. Right leads to Veterans Memorial Park. Head left, staying straight and you'll come to another intersection at Butler's Barracks NHS. The Waterfront Trail continues right out to King & Mary Streets. Continue straight to another intersection. Straight leads to the John Street parking lot. Head left between John St and The Commons. More vineyards on your right. Cross Queen's Parade and Ricardo St returning to the Ricardo Street parking lot after 1.5 miles.
Continuing straight you cross Byron St, then a slight downhill to Ricardo St at 34.5 miles. This is the official start of the Waterfront Trail . Map board located here. Cross the road to the Nelson Street parking lot and continue past the marina out to the Niagara River and the end of the Niagara River Recreational Trail after 34.6 miles. Across the river is Fort Niagara SP. Look left to spot where the river enters Lake Ontario.
CLICK HERE FOR MAP 1 & 2 in WATERFRONT TRAIL MAP
CLICK HERE FOR GREATER NIAGARA CIRCLE ROUTE MAP 1
CLICK HERE FOR GREATER NIAGARA CIRCLE ROUTE MAP 2
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BIKE IT OR HIKE IT