The Niagara Escarpment is a Canadian landmark 450 million years in the making that stretches all the way from Niagara to Tobermory. This 750-kilometre ridge of fossil-filled rock is home to more than 300 bird species, 53 mammals, 36 reptiles and amphibians, 90 fish and almost 40 per cent of Ontario’s rare flora, including 37 types of wild orchids.
The section of this UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve that runs through Hamilton and Halton is home to dozens of breathtaking waterfalls, acres of Carolinian forest and stunning scenic lookouts. A one-of-a-kind setting for outdoor adventure seekers of all abilities, the Niagara Escarpment offers year-round options for great Canadian escapes.
Interested in learning more? The Giant’s Rib Discovery Centre was created to tell the story of the Niagara Escarpment. The Centre, which is located within the Dundas Valley Conservation Area, offers educational lectures, fossil displays and weekly guided hikes exploring the park’s 40-km trail system. Visit giantsrib.ca for more details.
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Looking for a little more guidance? Consider these trip ideas:
Toll Free: 1.877.7.ONE.AXE
City: Ancaster, Milton
One Axe Pursuits is a local outdoor adventure company specializing in rock climbing, ice climbing, rappelling, caving and ziplining around the Niagara Escarpment, specializing in helping the beginner start their journey towards extreme sports and extreme fun.
Phone: 905-525-2181 or 905-648-4427
Life is better outdoors. Whether you’re interested in camping, hiking, swimming, cross country skiing or just getting a little closer to nature, Hamilton Conservation Authority has it all. Hamilton Conservation Authority owns and manages about 4400 hectares (10,900 acres) of environmentally significant land. Its recreational lands range from long distance trails and conservation areas that include the Dundas Valley, Eramosa Karst, Spencer Gorge/Webster’s Falls, Christie Lake, Valens Lake, Confederation Park, Fifty Point Conservation Area and Marina.
From the escarpment brow, noted for its panoramas, to the forested depths of the gorge below, the Spencer Gorge/Webster's Falls Conservation Area exhibits the physical features which have made the Niagara Escarpment one of Ontario's most spectacular geological formations. This significant natural area contains two beautiful waterfalls: Webster's and Tews Falls, and a nature trail allows access to the Dundas Peak, which provides stunning views of Dundas and Hamilton.
Christie Lake Conservation Area is one of the most beautiful lake settings on the Niagara Escarpment. While visiting, explore the trails that wind for 10 kilometres through peaceful meadows and towering pine forests - you'll be sure to see a wide range of wildlife that make their home in this 336-hectare conservation area.
City: Halton Region
Halton Conservation Authority is the community based environmental agency that protects, restores and manages the natural resources in its watershed. We are recognized for our stewardship of creeks, forests and Niagara Escarpment lands through science based services and sustainable recreation programs. Conservation Halton owns and operates six conservation areas, including Crawford Lake, Mountsberg, Rattlesnake Point, Hilton Falls, Kelso and Mount Nemo. We also operate the Glen Eden Ski and Snowboard Centre.
Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area has some of the most inspiring scenic viewing found anywhere. Five breathtaking lookouts dot the edge of towering cliffs of Ontario's striking Niagara Escarpment. Visitor’s can enjoy hiking trails, picnicking areas and overnight stays at one of the group campsites. Rattlesnake Point has three designated sites where experienced rock climbers can scale challenging cliffs under a canopy of rich woods and hiking enthusiasts can trek the Bruce Trail through the Nassagaweya Canyon complete with trail connections to Crawford Lake.
Exploring the enchanted forests of Hilton Falls is a natural treat with great hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails. The blazing colours of fall are only surpassed by the beauty of fleeting spring wildflowers or the richness of the green summer landscape. The viewing station at the falls lets you drink in the intrinsic beauty of a 10-metre waterfall that cascades over the Niagara Escarpment and the mysterious mill ruins that surround it.
Kelso Conservation Area is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Indulge in a swim at a sandy beach, fish for trout in the glistening lake or get energized with some great downhill skiing at Glen Eden. Mountain bikers can test their skills on marked trails on the majestic Niagara Escarpment or hikers can trek the rugged Bruce Trail. You can also rent kayaks, paddle boats and canoes. Hundreds of picnic tables dot the rolling landscape and shelters are available for company and family picnics.
If Mount Nemo sounds inviting and worth discovering, its because this conservation area has one of the best cliff ecosystems on the Niagara Escarpment. Rich green ferns blanket limestone boulders scattered among old growth forests that are alive with jewels like birds. Crevice caves and ancient cedars, a thousand years old, can be seen all along the meandering cliff edge trail.
Toll Free: 1.800.665.HIKE (4453)
City: Niagara to Tobermory
The Bruce Trail Conservancy preserves and protects one of the most important biospheres in the world and we need your help to keep it accessible forever. The Bruce Trail is Canada's oldest and longest natural footpath with over 900km along the Niagara Escarpment and one of the world’s unique natural wonders. Explore the Bruce Trail’s pebbled beaches, dizzying cliffs, deep crevice caves, old-growth forests, and awe-inspiring geological features.
Zen Climb teaches rock climbing risk management skills certified by the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) -- both belong to the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA) which set the highest standards in guiding. Our certified instructors teach beginners, intermediate and advanced climbers. We also encourage you to learn a life lesson through your climbing experience.
The Spencer Adventure is an amazing tour of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere through one of Canada's most significant Historical areas. Follow the trail from the Dundas Peak along the magnificent Spencer Gorge, cut out by glacial meltwaters more than 10,000 years ago. The Spencer Adventure is a day full of rich experiences, so get out and start your adventure today!
One Axe PursuitsHack frozen waterfalls. You don't have to go to the Khumba Icefall on Everest for some excellent ice climbing. Swing your ice axes and create your own route. It is an especially empowering feeling to reach the top of a frozen waterfall. No one said ice climbing is easy. But who wanted easy anyway? This program is suitable for the complete beginner and indoor gym climbers. All equipment is included.
One Axe PursuitsReal rocks. Climbing indoors was intended as a training ground for the real rocks outside. Get outside and breathe the fresh air while the sun warms your cheeks. Climb up to 80 feet and enjoy the texture of the limestone on your fingertips. It is such a primal feeling, being outdoors scaling the rock with turkey vultures soaring the sky high above you. At the top, take a deep breath and enjoy the view. You did it. This program is perfect for the complete beginner and indoor gym climbers.
Hamilton Conservation AuthorityYour key to the Great Outdoors... As a member, you and your family can enjoy year-round access to HCA conservation areas for 12 months from the date of purchase, for one great price! The pass will allow you and your vehicle passengers (up to 6 people total) into HCA conservation areas, including: Christie Lake, Crooks Hollow, Devil's Punchbowl, Dundas Valley, Eramosa Karst, Fifty Point, Spencer Gorge / Webster Falls*, Tiffany Falls, and Valens Lake. HCA members also receive free entry into Westfield Heritage Village's public programming, for up to 6 people, including a maximum of 2 adults. Additional exclusive rewards and discounts valued at more than $90 are also included. *Weekends and holidays from May 1 to October 31, membership pass is not valid at Spencer Gorge / Webster Falls. Two walk-ins will be permitted with your pass during this time period. Regular membership $110; Renewal membership $100; Regular two-year membership $200; Senior membership $90; Senior two-year membership $180. All listed prices plus HST.
Terra Cotta Conservation AreaCome and enjoy the classic winter tradition of outdoor skating on a frozen lake. What could be more Canadian than a game of shinny or refining your skating skills in a forest? We also clear a skating trail (around 600 m) so you can explore other parts of the lake.
Terra Cotta Conservation AreaTired of sinking knee deep in snow when you're out exploring? Try snowshoeing on our trails this winter! Bring your own or rent our modern, lightweight aluminum snowshoes from our Visitors Welcome Centre. Always check our website or call ahead for updates on trail conditions. It's easy, fun, and Canadian!