Exploring the Niagara Region

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Two Women Cycling Winery PC Ontario Tourism

Photo credit: Destination Ontario

Niagara is becoming known for cycling almost as much for wine. An incredible selection of bicycle routes and trails make this a popular destination for cyclists. Whether joining a tour or striking it on your own, there are short or multi-day trips to suit all levels. Meander between wineries through farmland, travel along rivers and lakes, or take advantage of acres devoted to mountain biking featuring the Escarpment.

Attracting thousands of cyclists from early spring into late fall, the entire region is a popular place to cycle. Cycling is also the perfect way to get between all the attractions, and is certainly an attraction itself. In addition to many kilometeres of off-road paved trails, there is significant on-road infrastructure. signed bike routes, maps and smart phone apps all to help ensure that cyclists keep enjoying all Niagara has to offer.

Find bicycle friendly businesses to eat, visit and sleep

Niagara Cycling Road Routes. Discover these on-road cycling routes mapped in the Niagara Cycling Map, available as a printable PDF document, in the Avenza app for smartphone viewing, or in the Niagara Region Navigator GIS Map. If using the online GIS map we recommend selecting the ‘light grey canvas’ map base layer to make the cycling route layers more visible.

  • Grimsby/Lincoln Bike Tour (40km) – A pleasant, relaxed-paced road ride, the Grimsby/Lincoln Bike Tour offers a close-up look at town and country life along the shores of Lake Ontario. Route information and digital map available at link.
  • Pelham Route (34km) – Among fruit orchards and farm land, this lovely route provides opportunities for short nature walks and a roadside picnic along the Welland River. Route information and digital map available at link.
  • West Lincoln and Wainfleet Route (49km) – Ideally situated in the middle of Niagara Peninsula 20 minutes from the Queen Elizabeth Way, this ride offers a pleasant counter point to the more heavily travelled tourist areas. Route information and digital map available at link
  • Bridge-it Route – this on-road route provides cyclists with direct access between Thorold and the Port Robinson ferry across the Welland Canal (pedestrian and cyclists only), and Niagara Falls. The route follows Grassybrook Road and links to the Niagara River Recreational Trail, breaking the Greater Niagara Circle Route in two. See Regional Cycling Trails for more info on the 140km Greater Niagara Circle Route.

Great Lakes to Greenbelt – Showcasing Ontario’s two signature cross-regional cycling routes–the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail and the Greenbelt Route, three loops using a mix of roads and trails are available in the Niagara Region, ranging from 30km to 49km. See more information under Cross Regional Cycling Routes.

  • Wine Country Roundabout (49km) – Explore the heart of Niagara’s Wine Country, where you’ll find tons of heritage, scenery, and a taste of the delightful spirit of a land certain to leave you thirsty for more.
  • Short-Dalhousie Shake-up – (38km) – Tour from Short Hills Provincial Park to Port Dalhousie with 6km of “down” and a gentler return along the banks of Twelve Mile Creek.
  • Garden City Glide – (30km) – Enjoy a glide around the Garden City from the beaches of Port Weller and Port Dalhousie to St. Catharines and the Welland Canal.

Pelham Cycling Routes –  Ranging from 15 to 18km in length, find 3 looped cycling routes on roads in through the Town of Pelham, communities and countryside.

  • Greater Niagara Circle Route – Niagara’s 140km flagship cycle touring loop links the region’s world-class recreational trails including the Niagara River Recreational Trail, Welland Canals Parkway Trail, the Friendship Trail, and the Waterfront Trail. 90% of the route follows off-road paved trails, with the remaining 10% on paved shoulders. The route starts in Niagara-on-the-Lake and follows major bodies of water including the Niagara River, Lake Erie, Welland Canal, and Lake Ontario. The routes passes through wine country, past Niagara Falls, scenic Niagara River and Escarpment views, lake and canal riding, and rural and urban areas.
    • The Bridge-It Route is an on-road route connecting the east and west sides at the middle point of the Loop – the Port Robinson pedestrian and bike ferry near Thorold on the Welland Canal, to Niagara Falls. This route allows for shorter rides exploring the north or south portions of the loop, or a figure eight. Explore the Ontario By Bike 2 day overnight itinerary – Niagara Circle Route South
  • Niagara River Recreational Trail

    Niagara River Recreational Trail. Photo Credit: Visit Niagara

    Niagara River Recreational Trail – Cycle through Niagara Falls from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Fort Erie on this 56km paved path. Cycle through wine country, and catch scenic views of the Niagara River, Falls and Escarpment.

  • Welland Canals Parkway Trail – This 42 km mostly paved trail follows the Welland Canal, where over 3,000 ships pass each year. It is 3m wide and mostly flat except around the Niagara Escarpment, where you can watch ships climb the locks.
  • Friendship Trail – Part of the Trans Canada Trail, this 3m wide paved path travels the 24km between Fort Erie and Port Colborne along an old CN rail trail from Port Erie. Detours lead to the lakeshore and beaches, as well as commercial and recreational facilities, including Crystal Beach and Sherkston.
  • Millennium Recreational Trail – The Millennium Recreational Trail consists of several paved, multi-use trail sections; including The Lions Legacy Pathway Paisley Janvary-Pool Pathway and the Millennium Trail and is approximately 5km in length. All are located along the western side of the Ontario Power Canal starting in the south at McLeod Road ending in the north at Whirlpool Road, which leads to the Niagara River Recreational Trail.

There are many mountain biking opportunities in the Niagara region. A number of trails are listed below.

  • Short Hills Provincial Park – Located near St. Catharines, Short Hills is a 735 hectare day-use park. Three multi-use trails are open to cyclists: Swayze Falls, Very Berry, and the Black Walnut trail. These trails are quite hilly and recommend for mountain bikes only. The Short Hills Cycling Club helps design and maintain the shared-use single-track trails. Support the park by joining the Friends of Short Hills Park 
  • Upper Canada Heritage Trail – Mountain bikes are recommended for the 14 km rough gravel path along the Niagara Escarpment. The converted rail line passes farms, wineries and orchards towards the historic Old Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Great Lakes Waterfront TrailThe Great Lakes Waterfront Trail – Stretching over 3600km, the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is a route connecting over 151 communities and First Nations along the Canadian shores of the Great Lakes: Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, Lake Erie, Detroit River and Lake St Clair, Lake Huron, Georgian Bay and the North Channel. The fully signed Trail uses the safest infrastructure possible, a mix of both on-road and off-road facilities, and is primarily paved, with sections of unpaved path and gravel roads. It can be enjoyed for as part of a day trip or on a multi-day long distance cycling adventure.

The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail through Niagara Region follows a mix of on-road alignments and trails. From Grimsby to Niagara-on-the-Lake the Waterfront Trail is primarily aligned on shared roadways. From Niagara-on-the-Lake south to Niagara Falls and Fort Erie, the Trail follows the off-road, paved Niagara River Recreational Trail. From Fort Erie west to Port Colborne it follows the primarily paved and off-road Friendship Trail. West of Port Colborne the Waterfront Trail follows shared roadways.

The primarily off-road portion of the Waterfront Trail between Niagara-on-the-Lake to Port Colbone is over 80km and forms a large portion of the Greater Niagara Circle Route. At Port Colborne the Waterfront Trail meets to Welland Canals Parkway Trail and is where the Great Niagara Circle Route branches off from the Waterfront Trail. Through the Niagara Region the Waterfront Trail provides many views of Lake Ontario, the Niagara River and Gorge, the Falls, and Lake Erie. Additional sights include historic military forts, the Shaw Festival Theatre, and dozens of shops, restaurants, and wineries.

For information and to access downloadable maps visit www.WaterfrontTrail.org

Greenbelt Route – More than 475 kilometres of signed cycling adventures await in the beautiful, protected countryside of Ontario’s Greenbelt. From Niagara to Northumberland, enjoy lush forests, winding rivers, welcoming communities, and family farms as you pedal through some of southern Ontario’s diverse and stunning landscapes.

The Greenbelt Route travels through the Niagara Region between the communities of Queenston and Grimsby.

Great Lakes to Greenbelt – Showcasing Ontario’s best trails and two signature cycling routes–the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail and The Greenbelt Route. Three loops are available in the Niagara Region, ranging from 30km to 49km.

  • Wine Country Roundabout (49km) – Explore the heart of Niagara’s Wine Country, where you’ll find tons of heritage, scenery, and a taste of the delightful spirit of a land certain to leave you thirsty for more.
  • Short-Dalhousie Shake-up – (38km) – Tour from Short Hills Provincial Park to Port Dalhousie with 6km of “down” and a gentler return along the banks of Twelve Mile Creek.
  • Garden City Glide – (30km) – Enjoy a glide around the Garden City from the beaches of Port Weller and Port Dalhousie to St. Catharines and the Welland Canal.
  • Niagara Region Cycling MapPrint, PDF, GIS and available in Avenza mobile app. Bilingual map resource with suggested regional road routes and all trails marked, plus additional resources.
  • Visit Niagara – Cycling – Discover the highlights of cycling in Niagara and find additional information on where to eat and stay while planning your trip to the region.
  • Niagara-on-the-Lake Bike Map – PDF Map. Available online only showing routes in town of Niagara-on-the-Lake for visitors and residents. Produced by the Community Safety Committee 2021.
  • The Greater Niagara Circle Route – Niagara Region & Tourism Niagara. Map of Welland Canal Parkway Trail, Fort Erie Friendship Trail, Niagara River Recreation Trail, Waterfront Trail, and Trans Canada Trails.
  • Niagara Falls Trail & Cycling Guide – PDF map featuring trails in and around Niagara Falls, and cycling routes within the city that utilize bike lanes, paved shoulders and trails.
  • St. Catharines Trail Map – Online and PDF map produced by City of St. Catharines.
  • Pelham Cycling Routes – Online map and info on routes, and additional Steve Bauer Trail Map.
  • Cycle and Stay Niagara – Cycle and Stay Niagara is a group of 3 B&Bs/Inns that are situated in strategic settings around the over 140km Greater Niagara Circle Route and other regional cycling routes. All B&B/Inns are knowledgeable have agreed to provide secure bicycle storage, nourishing breakfasts and other amenities. They also provide luggage transfer from one accommodation to the next.
  • The Niagara Guide – Cycling Routes – 12 legacy cycling routes developed by the Regional Niagara Bicycle Committee, formerly published on the Cycle Niagara! website.
  • Great Lakes Waterfront Trail – Explore the Niagara portion of this cross-provincial cycling route on Waterfront Trail maps including online interactive, PDF, and compact print maps available for purchase.
  • Niagara Freewheelers Bicycle Touring ClubThe Niagara Freewheelers are a local cycling club that have mapped hundreds of cycling routes with cue sheets available to the public. View the collection of routes HERE.
  • Bike Niagara – A community service organization, interested in helping people get started on bike riding, promoting safe cycling and improving the capability of cyclists.

Bike TrainConsider taking the Bike Train to Niagara. Operating during the summer season (generally May long weekend to Thanksgiving) with convenient bike coaches in operation – roll your bike on, and roll it off at stops including Toronto Union Station, St Catharines and Niagara Falls. Regular passenger trains now operate year round. For more information, view our main bike transportation page and Toronto to Niagara info, also visit www.gotransit.com

Port Robinson ‘Bridge-It’ Ferry – This free ferry service for cyclists and pedestrians provides a convenient crossing of the Welland Canal just south of Thorold on the Welland Canals Parkway Trail, leading to quiet rural roads connecting to the Niagara River Recreation Trail in Chippewa, just south of Niagara Falls.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Park N’ Pedal Program – Safely park your vehicle in a designated Park ‘N’ Pedal space at any host location. The hosts are mainly Niagara Parks Commission Parking Lots and wineries located close to a bicycle route, trail or paved bicycle friendly roadway, providing a variety of hospitality services and facilities to accommodate cyclists needs before and after a ride.

Niagara Parks Travel Package – Take the summer GO Train to Niagara Falls, and combine travel with a one or two-day pass on WEGO, the hop-on, hop-off bus service that travels throughout the city of Niagara Falls and Niagara Parks. WEGO has bike racks on front of all buses. Option to add on the Niagara-on-the-Lake bus shuttle and the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass.

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It had been awhile since I had gotten off the well beaten path and more popular cycling routes in Niagara that stretch between the Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was keen to head south to the quieter stretches I last had the chance to ride when we were still operating the Toronto Niagara Bike Train service with VIA Rail (now run with more summer frequency by GO Transit).

Destination and Regional Partners: