Niagara River Recreation Trail (Niagara Parkway)
The Niagara River Recreation Trail meanders through some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. Constructed in 1986 alongside the Niagara Parkway (a scenic auto parkway), the Niagara River Recreation Trail is a paved path for non-motorized traffic stretching some 58 kilometers along the Canadian side of the Niagara River. From Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake in the north, it extends almost the full length of the peninsula, terminating at Anger Street in the north end of the Town of Fort Erie. For those who wish to savor the entire Trail, it divides nicely into four scenic sections, each with its own history set amidst lovely countryside:
1. Niagara-on-the-Lake to Queenston
From Niagara-on-the-Lake in the north, the Parkway winds its way southward along one of the oldest roads in the province. Imagine as almost 200 years ago Major-General Sir Isaac Brock rode along it one cold, wet, October morning, as he galloped to his death and his destiny. Up the steep escarpment it climbs to the Heights of Queenston on which stands the noble column that marks Brock's final resting place.
2. Queenston to the Whirlpool Aero Car
From Queenston to the Whirlpool Aero Car lie some of the most popular attractions in Niagara Falls. Major attractions included in this section of trail are the Floral clock, Botanical Gardens, and Butterfly Conservatory. Also along this section of trail is the opportunity to take a detour and explore the trails traveling through the Niagara Glen, and descend into the gorge. Just past the Niagara Glen is the fierce Whirlpool, where the Niagara River flows dangerously into class 6 rapids.
CUCLISTS TAKE NOTE: Between the Whirlpool Aero Car and Chippawa there is a break in the multipurpose trail through the city of Niagara Falls. Sidewalks are present for the entire distance, so it is possible to walk your bicycle from the Whirlpool Aero Car crossing right past Niagara Falls and resume active cycling in Chippawa. Cycling along the roadway on the Niagara Parkway is also possible, but not recommended for inexperienced cyclists or children.
3. Chippawa to Black Creek
From Chippawa to Black Creek the Niagara River Recreation Trail continues to wind along the majestic Niagara River. Take time out of your hike along the parkway to explore the location of one of the longest and bloodiest skirmishes during the War of 1812, The Battle of Chippawa. 121 hectares of the battlefield have been preserved and it is the last remaining site of the War of 1812. For the more adventurous hiker, when you reach Black Creek you can take a detour onto the Black Creek, and Beaver Creek trail, which winds its way along the lower banks of Black Creek and Beaver Creek through woodlots and agricultural land.
4. Black Creek to Fort Erie
Black Creek to Fort Erie is the final stretch of the Niagara River Recreation Trail, ending where the Niagara River meets Lake Erie. Located within this stretch of trial is Navy Island. Navy Island is rich with history and worth a visit. It should be noted, however, that Navy Island is only accessible by boat. Also along this stretch of trail is the Freedom Park in Fort Erie. From around 1830 to 1860, thousands of freedom seekers used the Underground Railroad to reach sanctuary in Canada, the park has been created to celebrate their lives and to remind present and future generations of their struggle to be free. The trail comes to an end at historic Fort Erie, a fort that played an important role in the battles of the Niagara Region. For those in need of a longer hike, in Fort Erie the Niagara River Recreation Trail, links to the Friendship Trail which travels through the town Fort Erie to Port Colborne along, the path of an abandoned railway. This makes up the southern portion of the Greater Niagara Circle Route.
The Niagara River Recreation trail is home to over 100 historic plaques and monuments. These brief descriptions have only skimmed the surface of what you can expect to see along the trail. For more information about the plaques and monuments along the trail please visit: www.niagaraparks.com/heritage/plaques.php