Hi, my name is Lori. I moved to the Niagara Region in Southern Ontario, back in 1977, and fell in love with the place! I want to share my reasons with you here. As riders, we’re always looking for new adventures, and reasons to ride.
The Niagara Region is a hub of activity (as it has been for thousands of years, recent archeological digs have discovered). Toronto, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, and 3 U.S. Border crossings span an area of 158 KM. around the western tip of LakeOntario. The NiagaraPeninsula itself is approximately 36 km across from LakeOntario to Lake Erie. Naturally, the “tour” will take you the long way around, and you can ride the lakeshore from lake to lake.
Along the way, history is everywhere! From the Niagara Escarpment, (a massive ridge of fossil rich sedimentary rock which began its formation 450 million years ago as the outer rim of a shallow sea known geologically as the Michigan Basin.), to sites of battles fought during the war of 1812, and of course Canada’s first Capitol, Newark (Niagara On The Lake.)
It is one of the prettiest areas in Canada. The climate is mild and boasts the title “The Fruit Belt” where peaches, cherries, pears, apples, apricots, and grapes grow! Sadly, the economy has been such in the last decade that a lot of the tender fruit crops have been replaced with grapes. On the up-side, these grapes help produce some of the best wines in the world! Wineries are every where once you hit Stoney Creek. You can follow the wine route which takes you literally, all over the place, to each winery the area has to offer. It is a scenic ride taking you along the lake shore, and then up the escarpment (to the “Beamsville Bench”) and then back down through Jordan, and along the lakeshore again to Niagara On The Lake.
In Pelham Ontario, Near Penn Lakes Golf Course, there’s a road, that if it’s a clear day, you can literally see both lakes. (LakeOntario and Lake Erie)
There are three general routes to take:
The lakeshore, from Toronto, takes you all the way around the western tip of LakeOntario, through the towns of Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, and Grimsby, where you then get on the North Service Road, which will take you all the way to 7th street. Turn left & go to the end. Turn right and follow it all the way into Pt. Dalhousie. From there, follow the lakeshore through North St.Catharines, to Lock 1 of the WellandCanal. There, you can take the canal route all along to Pt. Colborne. Stop at Lock 3 in St. Catharines, and visit the canal museum. If you’re lucky, you’ll see one of the big lakers either going up or down the canal.
As the description implies, the Lakeshore takes you all along LakeOntario’s north shore and western tip. Once in Niagara On The Lake, going straight through town will take you to the Niagara Parkway. It is a very pretty ride all along the Niagara River, going right through Niagara Falls, with stopping points all along for fantastic views! The Parkway will take you to Ft.Erie, where you can ride along the lake shore of Lake Erie to Pt Colborne.
#8 Hwy, Reg. Rd. 81, from Hamilton, through Stoney Creek, Grimsby, Beamsville, Vineland, St. Catharines, Niagara On the Lake, etc. It’s a long ride, because of the traffic, and the lights.
#8 hwy is a windy road that goes all the way from Hamilton to St. Catharines along the base of the escarpment. Again, going through St. Catharines and meeting up at Hwy #55, will take you to Niagara on The Lake. St. Catharines boasts Pt. Dalhousie, and LakesidePark (The Rush song is about this place.) As well, there are stopping points of history of the war of 1812, and if you want to take a hike in the woods, just look for the white marks on trees and that is the BruceTrail. As mentioned above, Wineries dot the landscape all the way!
#20 hwy runs along the top of the escarpment and is reached by the Lincoln Alexander highway on Hamilton Mountain (“The Linc”), or from #8 hwy in Stoney Creek, is flat wide open spaces. – And the least amount of traffic.
Sadly, the warm riding season also brings out the tourists. And the Parkway ride can be a bit frustrating – especially that stretch from Niagara On The Lake to Niagara Falls. However, I do get my one ride in a year along the Parkway. It is my favorite, because I play tourist, stopping at Niagara On The Lake, and Niagara Falls, not to mention the scenery. We then ride to Pt. Colborne, and then head back home to St. Catharines, along the escarpment. It takes a full day to do a round trip, because we stop all along the way!
Our area is chock full of history! What ever you fancy, you can probably find it here. I must add here that if you choose to do the escarpment ride, fill up! Gas stations, & towns are far and few between! The other two routes take you through every village, town or city along the way.
As this area is Tourist Central, you are guaranteed to find a great place to eat! A lot of the wineries have restaurants. If you are traveling the #8 Hwy route, between Vineland and Jordan (in the Jordan Hollow) is a little restaurant called Butterballs. Great food, great prices, great staff! Just the other side of that, (going from Vineland) is the Village of Jordan which right at the top of the road, to your left, is the historic JordanHotel. This hotel used to be a holding place for the slaves coming up from the U.S.There are quaint inns as well as brand-name hotels along the way, so if you want to take a couple of days, you can probably get a room.
The riding season here is warm and inviting, starting early spring, and lasting well into fall. People are friendly, and helpful. I invite you to visit my neighborhood – I love it and so will you! For more information, check out this website: www.tourismniagara.com I look forward to seeing you!