NATURE IN THE NIAGARA REGION
Explore over 400 million years of natural history and some of the last remnants of old growth Carolinian forest in Niagara.
The Niagara Peninsula
The Niagara Peninsula lies between Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and the Niagara River in southwestern Ontario. It is considered part of the Carolinian Life Zone.
Named after the Carolina states, this Carolinian Life Zone is the northernmost edge of the deciduous forest region in eastern North America. In Canada, the Carolinian Life Zone is just a narrow band across Southern Ontario, which supports the most productive and endangered assortment of plant and animal species in Canada. Species that may be common farther south are at the northern limit of their distribution. This means that a high proportion of nationally and provincially rare species are found here.
Explore the River
Look for these nature areas, gardens and more along the Niagara River.
Niagara Glen Nature Centre
3050 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara Falls, ON
Set high atop the gorge overlooking the Niagara River, the Niagara Glen Nature Centre offers guided hiking tours with Niagara Parks Naturalists, bouldering permits and educational programming during the season. Inside you’ll also find the Nature Exchange, a free exhibit and trading post where visitors can learn about the unique geology of the Niagara Glen and the variety of plants and animals that live here.
Queenston Heights Park
14184 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON L0S 1J0
This picturesque site, located in the north end of Niagara Parks, combines leisure and history in one scenic location. Here you can discover hiking trails, picnic areas, tennis courts, Brock’s Monument, the Landscape of Nations: The Six Nations and Native Allies Commemorative Memorial and the southern terminus of Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath, the Bruce Trail.
Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens
2565 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 2S7
The Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens are maintained by staff and students from the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture and include a diverse collection of perennials, roses, rhododendrons and azaleas, a formal parterre garden and herb and vegetable plantings. New to the garden this year is the monumental sculpture the “Niagara Strait,” commissioned by Niagara Parks and designed by Canadian sculptor Gordon Reeve.
Oakes Garden Theatre
5825 River Rd, Niagara Falls, ON L2G 3K9
Strongly influenced by the City Beautiful architectural movement of the mid-20th century, Oakes Garden Theatre first opened to the public on September 18, 1937. This signature piece of landscape architecture, located at the corner of Clifton Hill and the Niagara Parkway, offers visitors breathtaking views of Niagara Falls, while the outdoor amphitheatre and the surrounding grounds stand as one of the finest examples of landscape architecture in Canada.
There are more than 300 species of birds to be seen in Ontario, and many of these can be seen along the Niagara River to the Lake Ontario (Niagara-on-the-Lake) shorelines. The entire Niagara River corridor, stretching 56 kilometres, became the first site in North America to receive international recognition as a “Globally Significant Important Bird Area” by major conservation groups in both Canada and the United States. Starting mid-November, the river comes alive with the aerobatics of more than 100,000 gulls on migratory flights from as far north as Greenland and the Canadian Arctic to as far south as Florida.
7145 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6X8
Just a short walk from Table Rock Centre, visitors can find seasonal floral displays and collections of orchids, cacti and rare tropical plant species like the Titan Arum inside the Floral Showhouse. Step outside to explore the grounds, where you’ll find our specially curated Life on Display exhibit. This ongoing display incorporates repurposed miniatures and explores the similarities between the structurally complex things that bring us happiness.
2565 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0
Located on the grounds of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, our beautiful glass-enclosed Butterfly Conservatory features winding pathways through lush vegetation and thousands of vibrantly coloured butterflies. Visit the emergence window within the conservatory to witness butterflies drying out their wings as they prepare to take their first flight.
14004 Niagara Pkwy, Queenston, ON L0S 1L0
Travel towards Niagara-on-the-Lake to visit the famous Floral Clock on the Niagara Parkway. Measuring 40 feet in diameter, the face of the Floral Clock is designed and planted by the Niagara Parks Horticulture staff and students from the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture. The clock incorporates roughly 16,000 carpet bedding plants every year and is changed twice per year.
Niagara Parks School of Horticulture
2565 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 2S7
From the beginning, the commissioners of Niagara Parks recognized the importance of maintaining horticultural excellence throughout our parkland. In 1939, the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens was established along with the Training School for Apprentice Gardeners, now known as the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture.
Beaches in Niagara
4155 Fort Erie Rd, Crystal Beach, ON L0S 1B0
Bay Beach underwent an extensive renovation in 2019 to provide an accessible and modern beach facility for the enjoyment of locals and tourists alike. New park components include washroom facilities complete with lockers, change rooms, foot wash showers and a water bottle filling station, a new playground, a viewing deck, and an accessible ramp down to the beach mats to provide access to the water’s edge.
Bernard Ave & Thunder Bay Rd, Ridgeway, ON L0S 1N0
Tucked away at the end of Bernard Avenue, this beach offers 66 feet of quiet beachfront, a perfect place for lounging in the sun, having a picnic, or just enjoying the gorgeous sandy beach. Free public parking is available onsite at Bernard Beach.
Bernard Ave & Thunder Bay Rd, Fort Erie, ON L0S 1N0
Tucked away at the end of Bernard Avenue, this beach offers 66 feet of quiet beachfront, a perfect place for lounging in the sun, having a picnic, or just enjoying the gorgeous sandy beach. Free public parking is available onsite.
Waverly Beach Park
South point of Helena Street at Edgemere Road, Fort Erie, ON L2A 1A1
Waverly Beach is located along the Friendship Trail and next to the site of the former Erie Beach Amusement Park, which was a popular attraction at the turn of the twentieth century for Canadians and Americans alike. With fine sand, paved walkways, informative boards citing historical significance, and free public parking and washrooms, this beach is a favourite among locals and visitors.
Crescent Beach, Fort Erie, ON L3A 5M4
Located just off of the Friendship Trail at the end of Crescent Road, this beach is 66 feet of intimate beachfront, perfect for spending the day with family and soaking up the warm summer sun. Complimentary parking is available just steps away from the water’s edge.
Explore niagara’s nature trails
Niagara-on-the-lake, ON L0S 1L0
The Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. Stretching 900 km from Niagara to Tobermory in southern Ontario, it provides the only continuous public access to the magnificent Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere.
Dufferin Isle Rd, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6X8
Explore 10 acres of paradise, where wooden footbridges connect small, secluded islands. You may be surprised at the wildlife you find in this popular escape, Niagara’s hidden secret. Open year-round, enjoy the Winter Festival of Lights displays from November through December.
Shagbark Nature Park
North of the corner of Burleigh Road & Dominion Road, Ridgeway, ON L0S 1N0
Over 4 km of nature trails lead through this 64-acre wooded and meadowed park that is popular among outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Interpretive signage throughout the park highlights its diverse character, including its geology, the woodland, birds, butterflies and other natural life, as well as a chimney swift tower. Please note the terrain is hilly in some locations.
Friendship Recreation Trail
68 Fraser St, Port Colborne, ON L3K 1E3
Fort Erie’s Friendship Recreation Trail, along with the Niagara River Recreational Trail, offers 16 kilometres of continuous beauty. The Friendship Recreation Trail forms the Southerly link of the Trans-Canada Trail system and the Greater Niagara Circle Route. Attractions along the Friendship Recreation Trail include Old Fort Erie, Crystal Beach Waterfront Park and Boat Launch, Fort Erie Historical Museum, Waverly Beach Park, Shagbark Nature Park, and many access points to beautiful Lake Erie.
440A John St E, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0
The Paradise Grove Oak Savannah Restoration area is located at the north end of the Niagara Parkway near Niagara-on-the-Lake.
3050 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6T2
Located deep in the Niagara Gorge, stairways lead to 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) of rugged paths that wind through this pristine pocket of Carolinian Forest, past prehistoric geological formations, wild flora and fauna. The Niagara Glen overlooks the rapid waters of the Niagara River and the natural phenomenon that is the Niagara River Whirlpool.
Niagara River Parkway Recreation Trail
Niagara River Recreation Trail, Fort erie, ON
This 56-kilometre trail runs parallel to the Niagara River and is a part of the Trans Canada Trail Link. The trail begins at Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake and ends at Anger Street in Fort Erie. Begin your walk anywhere along this multi-use, paved trail to enjoy the natural features of Fort Erie.
14184 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0
Nestled high atop the Niagara Escarpment in the north end of Niagara Parks, Queenston Heights Parks offers picturesque hiking trails, picnic areas, tennis courts, two picnic pavilions and a children’s splash pad. Queenston Heights serves as the southern terminus of the Bruce Trail.
Stevensville Conservation Area
2555 Ott Road, Stevensville, ON L0S 1S0
The Stevensville Conservation Area is a passive recreational area under the management of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. Visitors to this 121- acre site are greeted by a Carolinian forest, wetland, fishing pond, open picnic area and the meandering Black Creek. Conservation efforts are ongoing with help from the Fort Erie Conservation Club.
White Water Walk
4330 River Rd, Niagara Falls, ON L2G 6T2
The class 6 rapids at White Water Walk comprise North America’s largest series of standing waves, and visitors have the chance to get within a few feet of the water at several viewing platforms along the edge of the river. Looking upriver from the lower level of the first platform provides a great photo op with the Whirlpool Rapids Railroad Bridge framing your shot above the crashing waves.
Two Mile Creek Conservation Area
Lakeshore Road SS, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0
Two Mile Creek Conservation Area conserves a significant portion of the Lower Two Mile Creek Valley System, between Lakeshore Road and Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is a forested floodplain, conserved for its significant ecological features. The local trail provides access to Colonel Butler’s Burial Ground, where commemorative plaques describe his instrumental work during the late 1700s in developing a British stronghold in Niagara.
Trans Canada Trail
Length: Approximately 24,000 km
The Trans Canada Trail is the world’s longest network of multi-use recreational trails that connects Canadians and visitors to nature and to one another, from coast to coast, through accessible and inclusive outdoor activities. More specifically, the Trans Canada Trail connects with Fort Erie’s Friendship Recreation Trail and the Niagara River Recreational Trail. A joint pavilion between the Greater Niagara Circle Route and the Trans Canada Trail has been erected in Bowen Park in Fort Erie.