Cycling Through the Niagara Region
There are many possible cycling routes in the Niagara Region but this is perhaps one of the most scenic and includes the famous falls, historic sites and even a boat ride. This is an 80 km circle route that is suitable for road bikes with much of the ride along bike paths. The best time to visit the Niagara Region is during the spring blossom season in May but this route works anytime.
We started at Lock 7 on the Welland Canal in Thorold (50 Chapel Street) at the tourist office. We headed across the small bridge towards the lock and turned right along the Welland Canal Parkways Trail. This recreational trail is flat or gently rolling and you may see one of the big lake freighters on the canal as you ride along, we did.
At Port Robinson about 10 km into the ride, stop at the ferry landing. This is a free seasonal ferry operated by the Town of Thorold for cyclists and walkers providing a quick crossing of the Welland Canal. It holds up to 5 bikes at a time.
On the other side of the canal we turned right and then left at Chippawa Creek following Biggar Road which is flat with minimum traffic crossing the QEW. Turn left on Stanley Avenue which now has a bike lane before turning right on Chippeawa Parkway and into the town of the same name.
This is where the really scenic section starts as you head about half a block and take the right turn into the first parking lot to locate the Niagara Recreation Trail. Although it runs from Fort Eire to Niagara-on-the Lake we will be taking about half the distance today.
On your right you see the Niagara River thundering towards those famous falls. And further right is the American shore. Hit the road just before the falls to avoid the tourists, there is little traffic.
After viewing Niagara Falls continue your ride along the road and you can expect some mist from the falls.. There is a small rise as you are leaving town but there is a bike lane on the road so no worries.
The bike route leaves the road as you cycle through a park with the Niagara River on your right. You meander pass some of the attractions… helicopter rides, Butterfly Conservatory, Golf Course, Gardens, Hydro Dam and finally the floral clock which brings you to Queenston Heights which has picnic tables, restaurant and washrooms. This is where Isaac Brock defeated the Americans during the battle of Queenston Heights and you may wish to see the huge statute in his honour.
Then it is cycling down the those same heights along the bike path as it descends through a hardwood forest. Continue down through the streets of historic village of Queenston draped in flags celebrating the War of 1812. Yes, you can expect a minor climb when leaving the town.
The bike path continues along the Niagara Parkway with orchards and elegant homes on your left and the Niagara River on your right. The first of the wineries on this route appear… Inniskillin and Rief which has bike racks should you choose to stop.
You will eventually reach Fort George and before continuing into the town of Niagara-on-the Lake, a great place to stop for ice cream. There is shopping opportunities if you have some large panniers but not for cyclists intend on finishing the ride. This is the former capital of Ontario but is now home to the Shaw Festival and plenty of tourists.
You now join the Waterfront Trail (Lakeshore Drive) and every time I do this ride there is a strong headwind. There is a bike lane beside the road at the start which disappears after a few km and then reappears again part way along this 12 km stretch. This is the only section of the ride where there is sometimes some traffic.
When you reach the Welland Canal make a left turn and follow the bike path. It starts flat but don’t be fooled as when you reach each lock you can expect some climbs. Lock 3 has a store, washrooms, viewing platform plus a museum. And there is a long gradual climb at Lock 7 where the ends
While there are plenty of cycling routes in the Niagara Region this is one of my favorites.