The Niagara Escarpment Makes me Smile

South of the QEW, high above Lake Ontario is the Niagara Escarpment, lovingly referred to as The Mountain, by Niagarans (I think that’s what we’re called) and Hamiltonians. 

Niagara Falls in winter by Girl in Niagara

Although it doesn’t fit the description of a mountain, this beautiful geological wonder is essentially a cliff that runs from Niagara Falls all the way to Tobermory in Northern Ontario.  It also runs through several states on the American side of the border.  It begins at the place where the famous Niagara Falls cascades over the cliff tumbling into the Niagara river.

This place was not created from some thunderous violent act, rather it was gradually carved out by water, revealing layers of limestone and shale in many areas on the cliff’s edge.  You can see the striations in the image above.

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Wandering along the Bruce Trail high above the towns of Beamsville, Vineland and Grimsby is an experience that you can’t miss.  Walking among wild flowers, old trees, Carolinian Forest, moss covered rocks, and the edge of ancient shale, deepens your senses and makes your soul smile.  I even found Yin and Yang in the forest.

There are several scenic lookouts along various trails that offer sights of the towns below and Lake Ontario beyond, with the Toronto and Mississauga skylines in the far distance.  From the scenic lookout near Grimsby, on a clear Fall day you can see all the way over the Garden City Skyway to Niagara.  The Skylon Tower is a great landscape marker.

Toronto across Lake Ontario, overlooking Grimsby

Good to Know:

  • Beamer’s Memorial Park on Ridge Road in Grimsby is a great place to enter the lookout trail.
  • Parking is limited so avoid weekends
  • Weekdays are not at all busy
  • Bring your camera for great fall foliage shots
  • There is a bird watch tower to climb if you’re a bird watcher
  • Wear comfortable shoes especially if going onto the side trails
  • You can climb up or down the side of the escarpment in places, there are steps

The paths are narrow in some places, sometimes following the ledge closely, though I would not consider it dangerous or treacherous.  Biking is not suitable on many trails, and some paths include stepping carefully over roots and rocks that protrude through the surface.  I trip often because I’m too busy looking at something other than where I’m going. Thankfully never over the edge.

The area is well cared for and monitored by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, and there has been great debate on land development of this area in the past.  Though one hopes that nature will triumph as it has done thus far in this area.  It is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, so there is hope, and the NPCA have thus far been great advocates and guardians of this ancient area.

What is the Niagara Escarpment

There are some less knowledgeable and under appreciative individuals who find it a great place to hang out outside of their parents’ basements.  Evidence is left behind in the form of a fire pit in the middle of the forest, along with broken alcohol bottles, cigarette butts and other paraphernalia.  Of course I assume that these are night time shenanigans.

My venture into the woods on a brilliant Fall afternoon to enjoy nature and have some fun with my camera was the salve I needed to make me smile this week.  And thus my entry for the Weekly Smile, an exercise on spreading positivity by Trent P. MacDonald who posts and asks others to post about one thing that made them smile this week.

So, what made you smile this week?  Let me know in the comments below, and go ahead spread the positivity, by commenting, writing your own post, or pinning.