Author Topic: Greater Niagara Circle Route  (Read 1146 times)

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Offline Scotty0424

Greater Niagara Circle Route
« on: February 02, 2022, 08:59:15 am »
Part of a route I'm planning for the summer would take me into Canada at the Buffalo Peace Bridge on the way to Niagara-on-the-Lake.  I see there is a Niagara Circle Route that has a leg running north through Niagara Falls along the river and another northbound leg further west. My question: Does anyone have experience with this route, especially as it negotiates the Niagara Falls area. Is it a zoo, or is it OK? I'm wondering if it would pay to take the more westward leg.Thanks.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Greater Niagara Circle Route
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2022, 09:07:59 am »
I have only been north to Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL), a very quaint town.  I took the nice bike path all the way there and back.  No traffic issues at all since it was on a path.

I can't comment as to what it is like west of NOTL but the traffic seemed fairly light (mid-week) and I would think that if you stayed on the county roads west of NOTL, you would be fine.

Tailwinds, John

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Greater Niagara Circle Route
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2022, 10:25:12 am »
It was many moons ago, but I found the route from the Peace Bridge along the river quite nice, even during the height of summer and the resultant crowds.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Greater Niagara Circle Route
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2022, 02:28:00 pm »
Riding past the falls themselves in the summer is practically impossible. Too many people. You’ll probably have to walk your bike there.

Offline jcostanz

Re: Greater Niagara Circle Route
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2022, 09:38:33 pm »
I used to ride all the time in Canada around Niagara falls, just moved in August from Lewiston, NY to Florida.  I usually rode the off road paths/sidewalks trails except between the Former Toronto Power Generating Station and just North of the Rainbow Bridge when heading North.  South bound was usually fine until around Clifton hill.  The area that is left is mostly slow moving car traffic and easily traversed by bike in the car lanes,  there can be a lot of cars waiting to turn on to Clifton Hill making it tricky South bound.   

The western side of the Niagara Circle route is not well marked but does consist of mostly off road paved trails with mostly low traffic roads when on road.  From the Peace bridge it is a very nice ride along the Niagara river and Lake Erie then thru a very residential low traffic road to the Friendship rail trail, with a few road crossings.  One area to watch out for is when following the trail it take you along the old Weland canal and it ends at a rowing club.  turns right to connect to the road and goes over a railroad.  I recommend turning left after the bridge over the rail road and keeping the canal on the right here as staying straight there are a couple of road bridges, the last being division street and bridge 13.  after this there are no accessible bridges to cross back to the west side where the trail is.
At the North end you will be on Lakeshore road which has minimal shoulder at times with light to medium traffic until you reach NOTL.  If you are lucky in your timing, you might catch a lake freighter going thru one of the many locks on this route

Offline Johnny10000

Re: Greater Niagara Circle Route
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2022, 12:27:36 am »
Love this route!

I began at a winery parking lot (just south of Niagara-on-the-Lake) who let me keep my car there overnight (more on that below).  The entire circle is 87 miles (140 km).

The "route" consists of four local trails merged together to make the GNCR:
--Niagara River Recreation Trail (Fort Erie-Niagara Falls-NOTL)
--Waterfront Trail (NOTL-Port Weller)
--Welland Canals Parkway Trail (Port Weller-Welland-Port Colborne)
--Friendship Trail (Port Colborne-Fort Erie)

I took two days to complete it with an overnight stop in Port Colborne but others may be able to knock it out in one day.

Dozens of wineries, the Niagara Gorge, Queenston Heights, N-O-T-L, old forts/history, fruit markets, an active shipping canal (I did catch a Great Lakes freighter, super impressive), and of course, the Falls themselves. 90% paved trail with the only non separated part being the road that is part of the Waterfront Trail between NOTL and Port Weller.  Really flat except the lone climb up the Niagara Escarpment but it wasnt that bad and over quickly.

There a tiny bit of road riding near the tourist areas of Niagara Falls especially as you head north right at the rainbow bridge, but then its all path to NOTL.  As others have mentioned, the immediate falls viewing area will force you to dismount due to tons of people.

On the Friendship Trail as you approach Fort Erie and the Buffalo skyline, there are many public access points to the beaches along Lake Erie if you want to soak your feet or take a dip, it's quite lovely.

Bring some sunscreen.  The Welland Canal section has few trees.  My only criticism of the trail would be the lack of signs going through the city of Welland where the trail zig-zags at street crossings and I recall trying to get my bearings to figure out where I had to go.  That was 5 years ago.

Here's the "Park 'n' Pedal" Program link if your driving in and need somewhere to leave your vehicle overnight:
https://www.niagaracyclingtourism.com/news/niagara-on-the-lake-park-and-pedal-program/

John

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Greater Niagara Circle Route
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2022, 10:13:48 am »
If you are lucky in your timing, you might catch a lake freighter going thru one of the many locks on this route
When we stayed in NF for two days crossing the country several of us took a bus tour from the Rainbow Hostel that visited places a lot of tourists skip.  Can't say where it was, but se did stop and were lucky to see a lake freighter going through a lock.  Quite cool.

Offline Scotty0424

Re: Greater Niagara Circle Route
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2022, 01:20:51 pm »
Thanks, all, for the suggestions and info. I continue to do research and will decide what to do later. I found a good video by Lvfree Adventures on You Tube of the ride from the Whirlpool to NOTL. That looks beautiful. Below Whirlpool, Google street view is some help showing a doable route. I can deal with the rest, I guess. You can stand anything for a little while.

Offline canalligators

Re: Greater Niagara Circle Route
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2022, 11:00:30 pm »
I wouldn't skip Niagara Falls because of the crowding.  For the space of a km or so, you might be advised to walk your bike, otherwise the trail or marked street connections are ok.  If you want to add distance or see more territory (or freighters on the canal), you could do the circle.  I thought the views along all the canal were interesting enough.

There's a Seaway visitor center near St. Catherines that is worth a stop, and wineries near Niagara On The Lake.  The area does well in growing grapes for white wines.  Along the Niagara River there is bike trail along almost all the Niagara Parkway, it is very scenic, as is the Friendship Trail along Lake Erie.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Greater Niagara Circle Route
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2022, 10:29:22 am »
and wineries near Niagara On The Lake.  The area does well in growing grapes for white wines.
On the bus tour I mentioned above we visited a large vinery that was known for, among other things, its ice wine.  It also had a cellar filled with thousands of bottles of bubbly.  Wish I could remember the name. Former hockey great Wayne Gretsky even has a winery/distillery up there now.