WELLAND CANAL TRAIL:
GEORGE NICHOLSON TRAIL:
PORT COLBORNE-ST. CATHARINES; ONTARIO CANADA
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: July 31, 2017
Length: Welland Canal Trail; 29 miles
George Nicholson Trail; 1.6 miles
Difficulty: Welland Canal Trail; Easy. Flat paved trail.
George Nicholson Trail; Easy. Flat stone-dust trail.
To Start from HH Knoll Lakeview Park in Port Colborne (Southern End); From I-190 in Buffalo, NY cross the Peace Bridge into Canada onto Queen Elizabeth Way. Take the Thompson Rd (Route 122) exit and travel south to the Route 3 exit. Follow Route 3 west to Port Colborne. Cross over the Welland Canal and turn left on King St. Travel 1.3 miles (2.1 km) to Sugarloaf St and turn right. Turn left on Marina Dr and the trailhead and parking lot will be on your right.
To start from Charles Ansell Park in St. Catharines (Northern End); From I-190 in Lewiston, NY cross the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge into Canada. Follow Route 405 to Queen Elizabeth Way. Cross the Welland Canal and take exit 44 to Dieppe Rd. Follow to Route 48 and turn right. Follow to Route 87 and turn right. Take your first right on Route 52 and the park is on your left.
The Welland Canal Trail follows the Welland Canal from Port Colborne where the canal connects to Lake Erie north to St. Catharines where the canal connects to Lake Ontario. In St. Catharines, the George Nicholson Trail extends the Welland Canal Trail along Port Weller Harbor out into Lake Ontario. The canal allows passage between these two Great Lakes that would otherwise be impossible because of Niagara Falls. This is the forth evolution of the canal. Built after and because of the Erie Canal it was enlarged and re-routed over the years just as the Erie Canal was. There are 8 modern Locks along the canal. Visit; WELLAND CANAL for more information.
The Welland Canal 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 Port Colborne and Fort Erie along an old rail bed. At it's northern end this trail connects to the Waterfront Trail; Lake Ontario/Niagara Section which originates from the east in Niagara-on-the-Lake before passing through St. Catharines. Finally, the Friendship Trail and Waterfront Trail are connected via the Niagara River Recreational Trail .
Starting from HH Knoll Lakeview Park in Port Colborne (Southern End); A brick lined trail travels around the park which contains a playground, boat launch and restrooms. At the southern end of the park a pedestrian bridge leads to the Sugarloaf Harbor Marina. Starting from the map board just below the restrooms the paved Welland Canal Trail exits the park across Elm St and the RR tracks. Head right along the RR tracks then turn inland. Informational signs along the trail. Cross King & West Streets and come to Port Promenade which overlooks the Welland Canal after 0.4 miles. Follow the promenade north along the canal to Clarence St, then head right across the canal over a draw bridge. Check out the old Locks? Come to a cross-light after 1 mile. This will take you over Clarence St to Seaway Park. Map boards.
Note; If you continue along Clarence St/Welland St you come to the start of the Friendship Trail on your right next to the Fraser Street parking lot.
The trail travels alongside the East Bank of the canal. Come to a bridge across the canal at 1.7 miles for Lock 8. Cross over to The Island. The Weir Canal (First & Third Welland Canals) is on the western side of The Island. Come to an intersection.
Note; Left the paved trail brings you towards the southern tip of the island.
Head right through Lock 8 Gateway Park. Skateboard Park, picnic pavilion, water fountain and restrooms next to which is a map board. You then pass by the Lock 8 Gateway Park parking lots and LOCK 8 BIKE RENTALS before coming to Main St. The trail continues across Main St but you'll need to head left up Main St to access a cross-light, then return back along Main St to Ramey Ave. Just down Ramey Ave on your right you'll pick up the trail again at 2.3 miles. Now you travel along the West Bank of the canal before coming to an intersection.
Note; Right takes you through Derek Point Memorial Garden to the northern tip of The Island after 0.2 miles. Nautical themed park.
Continuing straight you cross an iron pedestrian bridge over the Weir Canal, then across Omer Ave and some RR tracks at 2.8 miles. You then travel behind the Robin Hood Flour Mill where you lose the RR tracks. I haven't checked out this next section. The trail then returns alongside the West Bank of the Welland Canal at 3.3 miles and continue north. After 4.3 miles the canal splits again. The trail now follows the Welland Recreational Canal or Old Welland Ship Canal (First & Third Welland Canals), while the main canal diverts right. This creates another island that is part of Welland. Pass by the Mud Lake Conservation Area along your left before crossing Forks Rd at 5.9 miles then some RR tracks. RR bridge right. Come to the South Niagara Rowing Club where the canal is covered by Route 58A and RR tracks. Here the trail is diverted right out to Canal Bank St at 6.9 miles. Head left for a short on-road detour (wide shoulder) to Route 58A. Cross Route 58A and you'll rejoin the trail alongside Canal Bank St at 7.1 miles.
Note; The trail travels alongside both the East & West Banks of the Welland Recreational Canal all the way to the Route 406 Bridge, past which the East Bank trail ends as the two canals rejoin each other.
Continuing alongside the East Bank of the Welland Recreational Canal; Cross Ontario Rd at 8 miles followed by some RR tracks. Cross-light over Route 29 at 8.6 miles before you pass through Merritt Park at 8.9 miles in Welland. I've checked out this next section. Pass by the Welland Amphitheatre and a fountain before crossing Division St at 9.1 miles. Division Street Bridge left.
Note; You can cross the canal to connect to the West Bank.
Pass by Canal Terrace and across Main St, Draw bridge left. The trail then travels in front of "The Boardwalk" before heading up to Cross St. Head left over a pedestrian bridge over the Welland River. The canal actually crosses over the river here. You then enter Merritt Island Park at 9.6 miles. Parking lot here. Playground, picnic tables, map board and BIKE STATION. A wide paved trail then travels through the park between the canal and river. I haven't checked out this next section. Trail splits as it travels underneath Route 41 at 10.8 miles before rejoining. Finally after 12.1 miles the trail ends below Route 406. Straight ahead is another RR Bridge.
Continuing alongside the West Bank of the Welland Recreational Canal; Head left back over the canal and continue north. Pass by the Welland International Flatwater Centre. Lots of boating activity in the canal here. Cross Ontario Rd at 8.2 miles followed by some RR tracks. Trail briefly pulls away from the canal before crossing Route 29 at 8.9 miles. Come to Division St at 9.4 miles. Division Street Bridge right.
Note; You can cross the canal to check out the East Bank.
Head left along Division St to Main St and turn right. Just before the draw bridge you'll pick up the cement trail on your left heading north along the canal. You cross over the Welland River. The canal actually crosses over the river here. The trail becomes paved again at 9.8 miles. Pass by the South Niagara Canoe Club before traveling underneath Route 41 at 11.2 miles. Travel underneath Route 406 at 12.5 miles before crossing some RR tracks. The two canals rejoin as one after 13.2 miles. As you approach Route 20 you'll cross over where the First Welland Canal entered along your left. Come to the Route 20 parking lot at 16.2 miles. I've checked out this next section. Pass by a playground and cross an iron bridge over the Third Welland Canal at 16.9 miles. I haven't checked out this next section. The trail then turns inland crossing some RR tracks and the Third Welland Canal again before utilizing a road that brings you back over the RR tracks and past some type of canal basin. The wide Turning Basin is along your right. At 19.3 miles Route 58 travels underneath the canal through the Thorold Tunnel. Come to Lock 7 where you'll find a viewing platform. Then head left over a bridge over the RR tracks and you'll come to the Lock 7 Viewing Centre parking lot at 19.8 miles. Here you'll find a Visitor & History Center, along with a viewing plaza to watch the ships pass through the canal.
Note; From here you can check out the Merritt Trail , which follows sections of the old First-Third Welland Canal.
From the Lock 7 Viewing Centre parking lot the trail continues north high above the RR tracks and canal below. At 20.2 miles you pass by the Flight of Locks (Locks 6,5,4) crossing over the RR tracks along the way. Cross Glendale Ave at 21.5 miles and you'll be back alongside the canal. Pass by Lock 3 at 22.2 miles where you'll find another parking lot and the St. Catharines Museum. Travel underneath Route 81, followed by Queen Elizabeth Way before passing by Lock 2 at 24.9 miles. Enter Charles Ansell Park in St. Catharines where you'll find a parking lot and map board before coming to Lakeshore Rd at 26.6 miles. According to some maps this is the official end of the Welland Canal Trail, however, the trail maps show it extending north out along Port Weller Harbor via the George Nicholson Trail. I've checked out this next section.
Note; The Waterfront Trail; Lake Ontario/Niagara Section connects here heading east-west.
The Welland Canal Trail/Waterfront Trail (Heading East) continues right across the canal, past Lock 1. Turn left on-road along Broadway (no shoulder, narrow sidewalk available), then left along Seaway Haulage Rd/Broadway (wide shoulder) to Broadway. After 27.2 miles the Waterfront Trail continues right into East Port Park. Map board here. The Welland Canal Trail continues along Broadway. After 27.4 miles you pick up the stone-dust Welland Canal Trail/George Nicholson Trail Section. Map board here. Travel across a grass meadow. A paved trail off your right leads to Jones Beach. Head through the woods, emerging on Seaway Haulage Road. Parking, map board. The trail now travels up the East Bank of the Welland Canal-Port Weller Harbor along an open wooded corridor. You pass another map board at 28.5 miles and emerge alongside the gravel Seaway Haulage Rd. Head left. Head right at the next intersection (left brings you to the mouth of the Welland Canal & Lake Ontario) and you'll come to a small light buoy after 29 miles and the end of the trail. Wide open views of Lake Ontario.
CLICK HERE FOR MAP
CLICK HERE FOR WATERFRONT TRAIL; LAKE ONTARIO SECTION MAPS 1-4
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