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Old 07-18-12, 10:12 AM   #1
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Niagara Falls, Canada trip

Taking a vacation to Niagara Falls and have a couple questions. Asking here, because we all know bike commuters have the best local knowledge.

First, everything is metric in Canada, right? Would you recommend switching my computer to kilometers?

Second, on a more serious note, what are the best 2 hour rides you would recommend about 50 kms (see, already thinking in metric!). From looking at some maps, here are a couple rides under consideration: counterclockwise loop on trails to Niagara-on-the-Lake/St. Catherines/Welland Canal/Thorold Stone, and ride out and back along the Niagara River south of the falls. Anything else you would recommend? Unpaved trails are an option, and I will have a car, so a short drive is possible. The more specific recommendations, the better, since I know nothing about the area.
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Old 07-18-12, 10:43 AM   #2
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Taking a vacation to Niagara Falls and have a couple questions. Asking here, because we all know bike commuters have the best local knowledge.

First, everything is metric in Canada, right? Would you recommend switching my computer to kilometers?

Second, on a more serious note, what are the best 2 hour rides you would recommend about 50 kms (see, already thinking in metric!). From looking at some maps, here are a couple rides under consideration: counterclockwise loop on trails to Niagara-on-the-Lake/St. Catherines/Welland Canal/Thorold Stone, and ride out and back along the Niagara River south of the falls. Anything else you would recommend? Unpaved trails are an option, and I will have a car, so a short drive is possible. The more specific recommendations, the better, since I know nothing about the area.

Make sure you make it to Niagara on the Lake. Beautiful town and beautiful bike ride from NIagara Falls, down safe paths.

While you're there, stop at a Winery or two. There are lots of them around there. Bikes, wine, what's not to love?
Have a great time!
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Old 07-18-12, 01:01 PM   #3
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Niagara Falls Canada Trip

Two hours is not a lot of time for a bike ride.

Best Route (which is basically what you outlined above) - Starting at Niagara-on-the Lake as you indicated head along the Waterfront Trail (it follows Lakeshore Road at this point) for about 12 km. Left turn and head up the Welland Canal Trail. If possible get to Port Robinson where there is a free bike ferry across the canal and then continue to Chippewa. Join the Niagara Recreation bike Trail which goes back to Niagara-on-the Lake. However this is about 80 km and will take a good part of the day.

Most scenic route - If only have 2 hours cycle along the paved Niagara Recreation Trail between Niagara Falls & Niagara-on-the Lake. Inniskillin & Reif (has bike rack) wineries are right along this route. Sights include the falls themselves, several historic homes, gardens, Brock Monument (historic from war of 1812), town of Queenston, Fort George in Niagara-on-the Lake, floral clock along with the great views along Niagara River.

Faster route - from Niagara Falls or Chippawa head along the Niagara Recreation Trail towards Fort Eire and this is quicker as there are less cyclists. However you cannot complete this in 2 hours either so it is a case of cycle for one hour and return. The views look different in each direction so don't worry about the repeat.

Note: I am not from the area but live in Toronto so cycle in the Niagara area frequently.

Tom
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Old 07-18-12, 02:36 PM   #4
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Windrush has nailed it. Don't forget to stop at farmers markets and buy fruit. Do not try to take that fruit back to the U.S. with you, they don't like it.

There is also the full (100 mile/160km) circle ride where you don't take the dinky little ferry but ride all the way up to Fort Erie and then down to Niagara Falls. It's paved trails all the way, and (with the exception of (parts of) the bit between Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake, it's surprisingly empty. Pick up a bike map at a bike store or at a tourist office. It shows all the trails and the quiet roads, and it even shows the hills. There are not very many hills, but getting up the escarpment is always something of a challenge.

I wouldn't bother switching the computer. Just add 50 percent to the number of miles, and you will be pretty close to the number of kilometers. So 10 miles would convert to 15km. (It's actually 16km, but it's harder to multiply by 1.6 than to multiply by 1.5, and who really cares about the difference)
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Old 07-18-12, 04:04 PM   #5
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Thanks for the suggestions. Wish I had more time to ride, but the family takes priority.

The Port Robinson Ferry sounds like a great idea, but 80 km is just a little too much. Maybe there is another way to fit that into a ride. If there are any nice places to visit I could drive there with the bike on the rack, for example towards the west, the family could take the car back, and I could ride back. Any suggestions for that type of ride?
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Old 07-18-12, 05:20 PM   #6
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First, everything is metric in Canada, right? Would you recommend switching my computer to kilometers?
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Old 07-19-12, 06:32 AM   #7
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Thanks for the suggestions. Wish I had more time to ride, but the family takes priority.

The Port Robinson Ferry sounds like a great idea, but 80 km is just a little too much. Maybe there is another way to fit that into a ride. If there are any nice places to visit I could drive there with the bike on the rack, for example towards the west, the family could take the car back, and I could ride back. Any suggestions for that type of ride?
Where are you staying? Niagara Falls itself?

The prettiest ride would be to Niagara on the Lake, and perhaps on to St Catherines. You could ride to NOTL and then on to the start of the Welland Canal (maybe 10km). Then double back to meet the family at NOTL for lunch, and they drive back and you ride. There are lots of things for them to do on the way to NOTL and the way back -- botanical gardens, floral clock, Brock Monument, tour of the hydro electric power station (which is actually very interesting). Alternative would be to drive to the museum on the Welland Canal and leave them to drive back from there while you take the bike path back along the Canal, through NOTL and along the parkway to Niagara Falls.

When are you going to be there?
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Old 07-19-12, 07:09 AM   #8
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I'd second visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake. My wife and I visited there the last couple of times we went to Niagara Falls and loved it. Truth be told for all I love the Falls the last time we were there (December 2005) we got the impression it was rapidly being ruined by casinos everywhere. It seemed like it was all but impossible to get around on foot without going through casinos, the casinos wouldn't let you in (even to go straight through and out) without searching bags, and since my bag contained a load of professional-spec camera gear I wouldn't let the gorilla on the door anywhere near it.

I'd imagine it will take a few button presses to change your computer to metric, probably less time than it took you to type the question asking if you should do it. To me it's a no brainer, go ahead and do it already.

If you really can't be bothered with a few button presses (or you've got an odd computer that makes it hard), either use the very rough-and-ready approach of adding 50% that someone described above, or approximate with 3:5 or 5:8, whichever is easier for you and the specific numbers. So 3 miles is 5km, 5 miles is 8km etc. It's still approximate, but a 5:8 ratio is very close (0.625 where the accurate value is 0.6214)
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Old 07-19-12, 07:42 AM   #9
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If you have time and want an out and back ride, head over to Lockport, NY, east of Buffalo and ride the Erie Canalway.
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Old 07-19-12, 08:38 AM   #10
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You don't say when you are going on vacation, but if you have time you can request a really nice paper map of the area from:

Tourism Niagara's website tourismniagara.com or the toll free information line at 1-800-263-2988.

I have one in my collection of potential ride maps and dream of riding the length of the Niagara River from Fort Erie down to Niagara-on-the-Lake, taking in the beauty and the history. This is the 200th aniversary of the War of 1812 (not being played up much in the States, but a big deal in Canada). There is a lot of history in the Niagara region from that war - http://www.tourismniagara.com/discov...a-history.html

Lots of geology to view at Niagara. I enjoyed hiking at Niagara Glen down to the river some years back. The gorge, whirlpool, and the falls themselves never fail to captivate my imagination.

An interesting tour can be had at the Adam Beck Hydro plant: http://www.niagaraparks.com/attracti...adam-beck.html I can't imagine any US hydroelectric plant having tours, post 9/11.

A stop at the Welland Canal observation area is worthwhile: http://www.infoniagara.com/attractio...g_complex.aspx Kids love to see the ships being raised and lowered through the locks and canal.

Enjoy the wine! We always do.

We stay away from the casino scene, but good luck if you partake. Having visited the area many times, starting in the 1960's as a little kid (when I think about it, I've probably spent a year of my life there, one week at a time), my take is that the casinos have changed the area substantially, and not necessarily for the better. It's less family-oriented now and the natural wonder has definitely taken a back-seat to the gambling. Sad, really. The pawn shop industry has really taken off, though.

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Old 07-19-12, 08:50 AM   #11
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One more link!

You might get some ride ideas here: http://www.macsbikesniagara.com/

I've actually thought about renting bikes and taking advantage of their shuttle service for my dream ride.
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Old 07-20-12, 05:06 AM   #12
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My wife adds two places to the not-to-be-missed list:

Niagara Home Bakery - 66 Queen St, NOTL - Try the butter tarts and the Empire cookies. Nice post-ride snack.

Greaves Jams and Jellies - 55 Queen St, NOTL - Best jams ever!
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Old 07-20-12, 04:44 PM   #13
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Niagra falls, Canada Trips, surely?
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Old 07-23-12, 06:43 AM   #14
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First, don't change your computer to metric. I ride in the U.S. frequently and never change to miles as it is not hard to estimate where you are just reading the road signs or doing an estimated conversion.

Best short ride: Drive to Queenston Heights Park (free parking/washrooms). Take the Niagara Recreation Trail to Niagara-on-the-Lake. This is a paved bike trail and easy to follow.

Have family drive stopping at any of: Inniskillin Winery, farmers market, Rief Winery, Fort George (living museum) or the many shops in Niagara-on-the-Lake. There is also a summer theatre there.

Check for special events as it is 200 years since the War of 1812 and there are many things happening this year in particular.

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Old 07-23-12, 08:17 AM   #15
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Best short ride: Drive to Queenston Heights Park (free parking/washrooms). Take the Niagara Recreation Trail to Niagara-on-the-Lake. This is a paved bike trail and easy to follow.
That descent down the escarpment from the Brock monument always looked like fun and should be "wheeee" inducing!

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Old 07-23-12, 08:43 AM   #16
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Just got back from Niagara Falls. Wow, what a great vacation! It was only 4 days, but felt like a week. Stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge a couple miles downstream from the falls. Didn't see any bike commuters (keeping it on topic, ya know). Surprisingly not that many bikes in the city, given the great cycling infrastructure. More pedestrians than anything else.

Thanks to everyone for the tips. Ended up riding a 40 mile loop over to Lock 3 on the Welland Canal on York and Queenston Roads. Then up to Lake Ontario on the MUP, across to Niagara-on-the-Lake on quiet roads, and then back to Niagara Falls. The one long hill, which I guess is the escarpment, was tough at the end of the ride. Niagara-on-the-Lake is a really nice town. Stopped at the Niagara Home Bakery mentioned by Altair 4 for a delicious energy break.

Also did two rides past the falls towards Lake Erie, which is really beautiful and quiet once you get out of the city.

I'd love to spend more time there just cycling, maybe riding the 100 mile loop. Here are a few pictures. Unfortunately the camera phone doesn't do justice to the beauty of the falls.

The falls


More falls


Ride towards Lake Erie


Lock 3 on the Welland Canal
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Old 07-23-12, 06:42 PM   #17
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Nice photos. Sounds like you had fun. A great place to visit if you can stay on the trails and out of the casinos.
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Old 07-24-12, 07:41 AM   #18
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Nice photos. Sounds like you had fun. A great place to visit if you can stay on the trails and out of the casinos.
The casinos and the amusement park of the Clifton Hill area are certainly a blight on the landscape. Hopefully some of that money will go back into the local community.
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Old 07-24-12, 08:53 AM   #19
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Man if you are flying, skip Ontario and go straight to Nova Scotia and do the Cabot Trail, it is nothing like you have or ever will see again. I dare you to turn this offer away.


Damn I see im too late, hit this up next year and great pictures man!
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Old 07-24-12, 09:09 AM   #20
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The casinos and the amusement park of the Clifton Hill area are certainly a blight on the landscape. Hopefully some of that money will go back into the local community.
Clifton Hill has always been the "carny" section of Niagara Falls, right up to Victoria Avenue and onwards to Ferry Street, but still rather contained. The casinos have changed everything, though. I seriously doubt that most people visiting the area actually ever stand next to the falls or the gorge to absorb the beauty. It's all just a backdrop to the gambling. I can't speak to changes in "downtown" Niagara, but that area from around Clifton Hill out through Lundy's Lane has gotten more seedy over the years. I can't even imagine what the land values look like now near the casinos.

I really envy the rides you got in. How far up the river towards Fort Erie did you ride? The fact that practically the entire river is accessible to the public is so strangely un-American. It's one of the reasons I've always loved the area. If I ever came into a serious windfall of cash (you listening, Powerball?), I'd move there.
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Old 07-24-12, 12:04 PM   #21
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Funny thing is I find the clifton hill cheesiness is what makes it niagara falls. Without that street it'll just feel like a normal town with great scenery. It's actually been like that since the 1960's with wax museums and rides and attractions. Kudos to them for being extremely different and it seems to work out for them employment wise and revenue for the city there's a bustling nightlife there to support the hotels/motels. The casino hires alot but i'm not sure if it does more good than harm cause gambling problems usually increase when it's that accessible to the local community.

Oh yeah and that's the tourist area of niagara falls not downtown. Downtown niagara falls is extremely quiet and deserted at night, I drove through it one night and everyone's asleep already.
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Old 07-24-12, 12:17 PM   #22
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Man if you are flying, skip Ontario and go straight to Nova Scotia and do the Cabot Trail, it is nothing like you have or ever will see again. I dare you to turn this offer away.


Damn I see im too late, hit this up next year and great pictures man!
I've actually "drove" out east with the gf and went around the cape breton island that place is gorgeous but for riding it from where you land it's another 420km which is at least a half day of driving and then when you get to the cabot trail it's 114km one way just around the highlands. It's an amazing ride but he'll need more than 4 days. especially on what the rest of the family is going to do? unless they love camping and hiking
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Old 07-24-12, 01:15 PM   #23
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How far up the river towards Fort Erie did you ride? The fact that practically the entire river is accessible to the public is so strangely un-American.
I rode about 15 miles each way, which put me approximately across from the southern end of Grand Island, not quite as far as Fort Eire. The contrast between the US and Canadian sides is remarkable. Kudos to the Canadians for limiting development along the river.
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Old 07-24-12, 02:15 PM   #24
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I rode about 15 miles each way, which put me approximately across from the southern end of Grand Island, not quite as far as Fort Eire. The contrast between the US and Canadian sides is remarkable. Kudos to the Canadians for limiting development along the river.
"Remarkable" is a good description! Maybe 15 years ago (it was in the middle of October), my wife and I drove through the Love Canal neighborhood on the US side - very unsettling, especially when we came across the only house in the middle that appeared to be occupied and with Halloween decorations on the door and in the windows. I always wondered exactly how many trick-and-treaters visited that house? And even more disturbing, were children living there?
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Old 07-24-12, 04:42 PM   #25
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I've actually "drove" out east with the gf and went around the cape breton island that place is gorgeous but for riding it from where you land it's another 420km which is at least a half day of driving and then when you get to the cabot trail it's 114km one way just around the highlands. It's an amazing ride but he'll need more than 4 days. especially on what the rest of the family is going to do? unless they love camping and hiking
I prefer Newfoundland However, got to admit, Cabot Trail is pretty amazing.
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