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The Niagara Escarpment is a UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere Reserve that has hundreds of waterfalls and a 750-kilometre ridge of fossil-filled rock dating back 450 million years. 

The Niagara Escarpment has the oldest forest ecosystem and the most ancient old-growth forests found in eastern North America.

This area has the highest plant biodiversity in Canada and is renowned for its hidden waterfalls, caves, rare orchids and wind currents that allow raptors to glide effortlessly on its currents for hours at a time.

In First Nations languages, it is often referred to as “the place where the land meets the sky” and it has been a sacred place of pilgrimage for 1000s of years as it was the first habitable land  to reappear after the last ice age roughly 10,000 years ago.

Ontario is an Iroquoian word meaning “land of shining waters” and Niagara means “thundering waters”.

I have found the best most accessible hiking along the Niagara Escarpment is at the two ends of the Bruce Trail along the Niagara River Gorge and Short Hill Provincial Park to the south and the Bruce Peninsula to the north.

The Natural Wonders of the Niagara Escarpment

Here are the 7 natural wonders along Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment:

1. Niagara Falls

The natural wonder of Niagara Falls seen from above.
While many tourists are surprised by how developed the area around Niagara Falls is, it’s best to venture to the Niagara Glen 10 minutes away for hiking in a peaceful forest along the river.

2. Nassageweya Canyon

Between Rattlesnake Point and Crawford Lake you will find the Nassageweya Canyon.
Between Rattlesnake Point and Crawford Lake you will find the Nassageweya Canyon. The Iroquoian Village in the area is also a must-visit location to learn about First Nations history.

3. Short Hills Provincial Park

A short drive away from the tourist crowds at Niagara Falls are the tranquil forests and waterfalls of Short Hills Provincial Park
A short drive away from the tourist crowds at Niagara Falls is tranquil Short Hills Provincial Park where you can visit 7 different waterfalls in a single day of hiking.

4. The Grotto

The Grotto is a series of caves along the shoreline of Georgian Bay in Bruce Peninsula National Park.
The Grotto is a series of caves along the shoreline of Georgian Bay in Bruce Peninsula National Park.

5. The Blue Mountains

The view from the Niagara Escarpment around the Blue Mountains resort area with the azul waters of Georgian Bay in the distance.
The view from the Niagara Escarpment around the Blue Mountains resort area with the azul waters of Georgian Bay in the distance.

6. The Lions Head

 The awe-inspiring view of Georgian Bay from the Lions Head, one of the most beautiful places on the Niagara Escarpment.
The awe-inspiring view of Georgian Bay from the Lions Head, one of the most beautiful places on this northern peninsula along with the sights of Bruce Peninsula National Park.

7. Flowerpot Island

Flowerpot Island in Fathom Five National Marine Park.
Flowerpot Island in Fathom Five National Marine Park where the Niagara Escarpment extends beyond Tobermory to Manitoulin Island.

These are the must-see natural wonders found on the Niagara Escarpment. There is so much more to see than just Niagara Falls!

Kyle Pearce

Kyle is a learning experience designer and experienced naturalist who leads educational retreats and group storytelling adventures around the world through Awecology.

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