Niagara Gorge

Date: Saturday May 9

Hike Leader: Bill Baird

A Brief History and What to Expect

[Some nifty rocks]

At the end of the last Ice Age, the glaciers receded back to the north. Freed from the massive weight of the ice, the earth cracked and rebounded creating the Niagara Escarpment. This radically changed the way water flowed from the continent and created the Great Lakes as we know them today. The Niagara River was the only point where lake water flowed over the Escarpment and the Falls were born at the site now known as Queenston. In the thousands of years since, the falls have carved their way back through the Escarpment to their present position. Today we will be hiking where the Falls were 9000 years ago.

On this hike you will see some amazing examples of nature's forces at work. Huge gaping potholes carved in granite by small pebbles driven by the incessant flow of the river. Enormous boulders left by the river as it changed course. Dramatic textures carved into rockfaces over thousands of years. Not to mention the river rapids and the sheer enormity of the gorge itself. If we are lucky, the trilliums will still be blooming and the gorge will be alive with verdant growth. There is something wonderfully primeval about this place that speaks of a time before humankind; like some lost valley in the Himalayas. There are fossils everywhere down here, Trilobites, Scorpions and Sea Lilies. Keep your eyes open. This is a scenic hike, not a marathon. Stop and smell the mosses.

These notes are by Rolf Berger.

Directions

[GPS Track]

The GPS track is courtesy of Duke Ducyk, from 2010Oct02.

These are our traditional Niagara Gorge driving instructions from Old York Mills Road at 10:00am...

  1. Go north to Highway 401.
  2. Drive west on the 401 to Highway 427.
  3. Drive south on 427 to QEW Hamilton.
  4. Follow the signs for QEW to Niagara Falls, and cross the Burlington Skyway.
  5. Continue on the QEW to Niagara.
  6. Shortly after you cross the St. Catherines Skyway over the Welland canal, the highway will fork. Keep to the left and follow Highway 405 to Queenston/Bridge to the USA.
  7. Six kilometres later, on the right, exit the 405 at Stanley Avenue. Do not miss the Stanley Avenue exit! The next exit is the USA!
  8. At the end of the ramp, turn left.
  9. Cross on the bridge over Highway 405 and turn right onto Portage Road.
  10. About three kilometers later you will enter a round-a-bout. Take the first right onto the Niagara Parkway.
  11. A couple kilometers later, you will see a fairly large, open parking lot on the left side of the road opposite a golf course. There should be signs for Niagara Glen Nature Reserve, and a gift shop.
  12. Park here.

Here are the instructions from Google Maps. These have you turning right at Stanley Avenue, and winding around to the parking lot the opposite way. Their alternate instructions are to cross at the Buffalo and Port Erie Public Bridge, work your way around through the USA, and hurtle the Gorge Evel Knievel style. I am sure Canada Customs will want a word with you.

The hike starts at 12:00 noon.

Remarks

This is a fairly difficult hike with slippery rocks and a lot of ups and downs. Hiking boots are strongly recommended. The distance is fairly short and the speed will be moderate. The composite photograph below is the whirlpool from on top of one end of the cable car.

Après Hike

After the hike, at approximately 4:00 p.m., for those of you interested, we will check out one or two winerys in the area.

For those of you who wish to head back straight home, we will miss you (maybe next time) or some may wish to head straight into Niagara On The Lake to wander around and/or go for dinner at the Olde Angel Inn in the downtown. Those of us heading to the winery can head to dinner afterwards.

[Niagara Whirlpool]