The Niagara River Gorge is a great place to take a casual walk or go for a hike as a great workout. You’ll enjoy spectacular scenery along the way.
Hiking the Gorge Is A Great Outdoor Activity for Families
I have fond memories as a kid family would head to the Niagara Gorge. Mom packed a lunch and a canteen of water. We brought along a camera, binoculars and maybe a bird book. Our family would pile into the station wagon, head to Niagara County and spend a morning descending the stone stairs from Lewiston down to the Lower Niagara River.
My brothers would explore their favorite cave just off the main trail and tell me ghost stories. My sisters pointed out flowers and great views.
We would all enjoy a nice picnic on a rock somewhere at the base of the Gorge and then hike back up. We’d return home full of memories and tired out, which I’m sure made my parents happy.
Visiting the Niagara River Gorge in 2020
Little has changed about the trails. They remain a quiet area, preserving the nature along the Lower Niagara River. There is one extra treat for hikers that didn’t exist years ago. When the jet boat tours are running, see them navigate the rapids and drench guests with cool water.
There are 3 main access points to enter the trail system: Devil’s Hole State Park, Whirlpool State Park and Niagara Falls State Park from behind the Discovery Center near the Aquarium of Niagara. You can park at any of these 3 points. If one lot is full, try another. Another option is to park anywhere along the Niagara Discovery Shuttle bus route in when it runs in summer and take the bus to the trail head of your choice.
Going up or down from the Whirlpool or Devil’s Hole can take an hour or two, less if you’re jogging. Making a loop down one set of stairs, across the floor of the trail system, back up another set of stairs and then back along the top of the Gorge on Rim trail is a nice few hours or half day adventure at a leisurely pace.
The stairs at Devil’s Hole and the Whirlpool are a good workout. Trails and rocks can be slippery, especially after a rain. So if you are not sure you’re up for the climb, enter the Gorge from the Discovery Center where the path is more gradual. Wear proper footwear. Check trail conditions as sections sometimes close for maintenance. At the bottom of this post, we’ve shared images of what’s open when this article was posted.
Under NO circumstances should you go in the water. The Niagara River here is swift and dangerous and not for swimming or even wading.
You can download a trail map below.
There are no facilities once you start walking down the trail, other than a stone picnic table at the bottom of the Whirlpool stairs. Pack out whatever you bring in and keep the trails clean.
When you escape into the lower Niagara Gorge you’re treated to a variety of trees and rock formations not seen from above. There is shade on most of the walk and temperatures can be cool and refreshing on a hot summer day.
Visit the Gorge again in Fall for a spectacular showing of colorful foliage as the leaves change.
Trail Status as of Mid-June, 2020.