Niagara Falls is known for its nature. Usually, tourists will assume that just means the waterfalls—which aren’t that natural, really—but if you trek farther afield than the nicely manicured green spaces along Horseshoe Falls, you’ll find more casual, spacious, rustic treks and walks to enjoy. The city’s real gems make for better jogs, strolls or bikes in the city proper, away from the maddening crowds. Here’s a quick glimpse at some of the beautiful green trails Niagara Falls has to offer.
The most prominent trail is the Millennium Trail, which was actually completed in Sept. 2022, more than 20 years after work first broke ground in 1999. The trail runs alongside a diagonal hydro canal that cuts across the entire city. It’s not all on Google Maps, but it’s there, and it’s wonderfully secluded by a canopy of trees and quiet backyards just a few metres from the flowing water. Playgrounds, fields and outdoor workout equipment line the path, including quieter neighbourhood parks like Carolyn Park and Royal Manor Park, which offer clean, new playgrounds for kids to enjoy. Bikers and runners will appreciate the smooth, straight pavement—even if it is occasionally interrupted by the occasional main roadway.
Don’t assume the Niagara Parkway starts and ends near the waterfalls. Head farther north or south along the riverside road and you’ll find it transforms into a proper multiuse recreational path all the way north to Niagara-on-the-Lake and south to Fort Erie. On-street bike lanes and sidewalks substitute during busier stretches, but the trail section is nicely paved and maintained by the Niagara Parks Commission, which likes to refer to this stretch as Canada’s only 56-km-long park. A cynical resident might ask if it’s really a park if rich people own multimillion-dollar riverside properties along huge swaths of it, but no matter—the trail is there, and we’re glad it is. Springtime is obviously a beautiful time to check it out, but the cruel irony is that the foliage becomes so lush that it’s impossible to see the rushing river. Alas.
Haulage Road Recreation Trail
A curious little trail in the city’s north end, this 1.5-km trail was adapted from hydro truck haulage roads created by Ontario Hydro during the 1950s, so the excavated rocks could be, well, hauled away. Now it’s just a peaceful, quiet asphalt path running from a small strip of local businesses on St. Paul Ave to the popular and sizeable Firemen’s Park. It’s hard to recommend tourists go so far out of their way for a simple trail like this, but locals looking for a nice walk in a different neighbourhood should find it enjoyable.
Olympic Torch Run Legacy Trail
The Olympic Torch Run Legacy Trail was created in 2010, when Canada was hosting the Winter Olympics. What’s that? The Games were in Vancouver? Well, other cities several thousand kilometres away wanted a piece of the action, and few Canadian international landmarks are as popular as Niagara Falls, so here we are. The result is a commemorative trail that makes another often-overlooked, quiet, 1.4-km trail that runs closer to the downtown core of Queen Street than any other trail. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a nice path for jogging, biking and stroller-walking. It’s also a perfect walk for tourists arriving by train—simply head south from the station until you see the trail entrance next to City Hall, then follow it directly to the tourist haven of Clifton Hill.
Hop off the asphalt path at the Dufferin Islands, a rugged, snaking network of trails spanning 10 acres of land south of the waterfalls themselves. A beautiful walk at any time of year—Niagara Parks brightens the area up with holiday lights around Christmastime—Dufferin Islands trace their roots to the early 1900s, during construction of the nearby power generating station. Wooden footbridges and quacking ducks give the place a real rustic vibe, though the park’s proximity to the tourist nexus—combined with its modest size—makes it busier than any other trail on this list. You’ll have to pay for parking and, during the peak season, you might struggle to find a spot. But what are you doing driving, anyway? The whole point of this list is to encourage you to walk and bike around the city. So do that instead and you’ll be fine. (Or just come in autumn: avoid the crowds, enjoy the colours.)