Below are links to some of the trails that we have fallen in love with, and some that we are looking forward to explore this year.
Some provide great exercise, some great animal habitats to watch and learn from, and others are just nice and relaxing.
From 2012-2017 we ran a “Hiking Program”, in which homeschoolers from anywhere were welcome to join us. As our kids got older and more involved in other things, our program came to an end. BUT, we still hike these as a family when we get the chance.
Below the list are tips to keep in mind if you will be going on these hikes. Some of these locations have costs for parking or entry. See this Fee schedule for more info.
(To see a map of ALL the conservation areas in Niagara, click here.)
St. John’s Conservation – wetlands and great forest hikes, short or long trails
Beamer Falls – has look out points throughout the trail to see the Niagara region in all its glory, also where the Hawk watch is held yearly
Twenty Valley Trail – Jordan Museum entrance – trail leads all the way to Balls falls IF the hiker wishes to do the 45 min hike. (We just stick to the creek here for a short hike)
Forest Frolic Trail (Part of Balls Falls – $ parking) – We did this one and it is a nice short trail with lots of nature surrounding the trail.
Bruce Trail @ Queenston Heights – the START of the Bruce Trail (or end, depending how you look at it !)
Niagara Glen – also known as the Gorge walk, located on the Niagara Parkway, a steep climb down stairs provides access to many trails to choose from, some leading to the edge of the Niagara rapids, and the Whirl pool.
Burgoyne Woods contains two trails in a natural and recreational parkland setting with full amenities, including a swimming pool and wading pool, a playground area, tennis courts, picnic areas, a covered pavilion, and a concession stand. The first trail loop is about 650 metres and is wheelchair and stroller accessible, while the second loop will take you into a more forested area with woodchip, pavement and earth trail. If you bring your four-legged friend, there are two fenced areas for large and small dogs.
Palaeozoic Path (Short Hills Provincial Park) – Roland Road Entrance
Welcoming people of all ages and abilities, the Palaeozoic Path follows a wheel-friendly route on the southwest fringe of Short Hills Provincial Park. Follow the red (#3) trail markers. The trail is an interactive experience with the natural surroundings, passing by lookout sites, educational stations and wildflower gardens. The trail is approximately 800 metres in length and features Swayze Falls, a wonderful attraction during the spring melt and after prolonged periods of rain. **Note of advice…We did this trail once, and had a tough time finding our way back to the parking lot. We are up to the challenge of this trail again, and when you are heading back to the parking lot, please watch the trail markers carefully. Check out the web site carefully before attending this trail.
Woodend Conservation Map The Silurian Adventure trail is named after the Silurian period of the geological time scales when the rocks making up the Niagara Escarpment were formed. On the land which you are standing, massive sheets of ice moved through the Niagara Region carving the escarpment as they went. The Silurian trail is roughly 1.61km (1 mile) long, and will take about 1 hour to complete. The trail travels through a deciduous woodlot and winds it way along the Escarpment edge before returning back to the road. This hike will offer beautiful views of the Niagara Region, with the striking Lake Ontario as a backdrop.
Chippawa Creek This will be our first time visiting this trail.
Rockway Conservation Area is part of the Niagara Escarpment and offers history and beauty in a remote setting. Hike the trail into the Fifteen Mile Creek valley amongst the majestic mature Basswood, Sugar Maple, Black Walnut and Sycamore trees. View two waterfalls, the larger of which plunges from a height of 19.5 meters (63 ft), and the smaller from a height of 12.2 meters. The watercourse continues downriver, surging over a series of rapids.
Louth Conservation Area is located along Sixteen Mile Creek in Lincoln County. This 36 hectare (89 acre) parcel of land was purchased in 1973 and preserves a portion of the Niagara Escarpment, providing access to the Bruce Trail. Experience the wonders of the Sixteen Mile Creek valley and historic rock formations as you wind your way through the escarpment forest and see and hear the unique forest songbirds.
Cave Springs This site features spectacular vistas overlooking Lake Ontario and the old Lake Iroquois shore, and an exquisite representation of the Niagara Escarpment’s talus slopes and cliffs. The escarpment rim and bedrock plain forests are dominated by Sugar Maples. The rich and unique diversity of plants and habitat on these rare escarpment features provide a linear migration corridor for animals and plants, lending to the sites provision for protection.
Our special hikes are not for small children. We suggest 8 years minimum. They are challenging and are a minimum of 2 hours, up to over 3 hours. Having a backpack on these two hikes is highly recommended to carry snacks and water.
20 Valley Trail (Jordan Museum) to Balls Falls – 2 Hrs minimum. This hike will be at the half-way point in our program. It is NOT for small children, and will be challenging. It will take at least an hour one way. At Ball’s Falls Conservation Area starts an interesting trail that takes hikers to Jordan Village along the Twenty Mile Creek Valley. This trail follows the creek from the historically and environmentally significant Balls Falls to Jordan’s historical Museum. We are going to start at the trail head in Jordan Village and climb the escarpment to see the once-lively Ball`s Falls preserved hamlet and the scenic Upper and Lower Ball`s Falls, then returning to Jordan. For those that choose to, you can have someone drop you off in Jordan, and then pick you up in Balls Falls.
Decew Falls / Morningstar mill – 3 hrs. 8 yr old minimum age. This is going to be the LAST hike of our program – with optional creek walk and minor rock climbing (descent to the creek and falls). This has been our most popular hike. Decew falls has an area to descend (rock climbing), which in years past has had ropes to assist climbing. We will also be bringing ropes with us. Our children love the rock climb, and it is the quickest way to the falls. The trail along the creek leading to the falls has areas of tricky footing. My husband was a repel master in the army and he will be with us on this hike to assist everyone.
TIPS FOR HIKING:
- A parent must accompany any child participating, we have our own children to watch out for
- Wear comfortable running shoes with socks – no open toe shoes
- Long pants are advisable
- regular t-shirt with spring jacket will protect against bugs and branch scratches
- Hats are optional, but will help protect against sun stroke and burn
- Bring bug repellent
- Pack a snack, and bring water bottles.
- Bringing a spare change of clothes and socks is advisable, which can be carried in a back pack, or left in your vehicle.
- Sun screen is optional – we find it attracts more of the bugs, and most trails are under cover of tree foliage.