Niagara Escarpment & Niagara Falls
The Niagara Escarpment is a masterpiece of living art that encompasses one of the world’s greatest natural wonders — Niagara Falls. The Escarpment stretches from Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula in the north, to one of the great natural wonders of the world — the thundering Niagara Falls — in the south.
The Niagara Escarpment
Known as one of the world’s most unique land formations, the Niagara Escarpment has been recognized as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The rocks forming the Escarpment are dolomite, formed over 400 million years ago in a shallow tropical sea, which would have looked much like today’s Great Barrier Reef of Australia.
The Niagara Escarpment encompasses farms, recreational areas, sweeping scenic views, clear streams, wetlands, pebbled beaches, rolling hills, pristine waterfalls, deep caves, wildlife habitats, historic sites, villages, towns and cities.
Ontario’s oldest and longest hiking trail, The Bruce Trail, follows the entire Niagara Escarpment for 782 km. The Blue Mountain region of the escarpment boasts some of Ontario’s finest downhill ski areas at Collingwood.
Hiking the Escarpment affords a close-up view into the world of nature. Its diverse natural landscape contains an incredible ecosystem and biologists have said that the Escarpment is the most diverse region in the province. Calling it home are flora and fauna including reptiles and amphibians, mammals, and more than 350 species of birds and plants.
Located along the Escarpment are numerous conservation areas offering many outdoor recreation possibilities and two national parks, both of which are located at the northern tip of the Escarpment and on the shores of Georgian Bay.
The Bruce Peninsula
The Bruce Peninsula is one of the last remaining intact stretches of natural habitat in Southern Ontario. Flanked by two national parks at the tip near Tobermory, the Bruce is host to over 40 species of orchids, alvar habitats, unique ‘Flowerpot’ formations and is located on a major migratory bird route. The Niagara Escarpment (World Biosphere Reserve) forms the easterly backbone of the Peninsula creating two very distinct environments: rugged, towering cliffs along Georgian Bay; and warm shallow sandy beaches along Lake Huron. “The Bruce” as it is known locally, is home to a very vibrant culture that embraces the diverse landscape of the Peninsula. Visitors from all over the world come to the Bruce to hike the famous Bruce Trail, to visit Bruce Peninsula National Park or scuba dive in Fathom Five National Marine Park. Fathom Five is Canada’s first National Marine Conservation area and underwater park. It preserves a rich cultural legacy that includes 22 shipwrecks and historic light stations. Visitors also come to tour lighthouses or just relax in nature at one of the many cottages, B&Bs, campgrounds or motels.
One of the world’s tallest and what may be the fastest moving waterfalls, Niagara Falls is an awe-inspiring site. The Canadian Horseshoe Falls is 52 meters (172 feet) high and the massive volume of water that flows over the Horseshoe Falls gives it its green colour.
For sheer volume of water, the Niagara River is one of the greatest short rivers in the world. The river is a connecting channel between two Great Lakes, Erie and Ontario. Awe-inspiring Niagara Falls plunges into the Niagara Gorge. Downstream of the falls, the Whirlpool Rapids consist of 4 kilometres of 3-5 meter standing waves, making this stretch of whitewater the largest series of waves in North America. These waves are caused by the sheer force of water being pushed through the narrowing walls of the Niagara Gorge. The gorge itself extends from Niagara Falls to the southern point of the Niagara Escarpment at Queenston.
In the Niagara Escarpment area, from the Falls to the Bruce, outdoor enthusiasts can also enjoy world famous gardens, delightful horticultural centres or visit a spectacular Butterfly Conservatory. Stroll along the great Niagara Gorge or take an exhilarating journey behind the Falls. Discover Niagara’s natural wonders — it’s a great start to an Ontario outdoor vacation.
- Useful Links:
- Georgian Triangle Tourism
- Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority
- Niagara Parks
- The Hills of Headwaters
- Bruce Coast Lighthouse Tour
- Bruce Peninsula National Park
- Niagara Escarpment
- The Bruce Trail
- Bruce County Tourism
- ChiCheemaun Car Ferry
- Fathom Five National Marine Park
- Great Fall Drive: Tip of the Escarpment: Grey - Bruce
- Great Fall Drive: The World's Prettiest Drive: Niagara Parkway and Wine Country
- Bike Train Initiative