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What are the Best Hikes Near Niagara Falls?
In this guide, we’ll be covering the best hiking trails near Niagara Falls and what you can expect to see along the way. The Niagara Gorge Trail System is a collection of 8 hiking trails that connect the various state parks that line the Niagara River along its escarpment, comprising nearly 16 miles of maintained trail and offering breathtaking views of the Niagara Gorge and world-famous Niagara Falls. We’ll cover each of these trails in detail so that you can decide which hikes will be best for you on your next trip to Niagara Falls!
The Niagara Gorge area is a must-visit destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts looking to experience the natural beauty of western New York, known for its rich wildlife and geologic history. Here you can find unique areas such as the Whirlpool Rapids and the Devil’s Hole, a large unique rock formation carved out of the Niagara Gorge that you can enter and explore. The hiking opportunities near Niagara Falls are some of the best hikes you’ll find in western New York.
The Niagara Gorge Trail System
Niagara Gorge Rim Trail
Length: 6.2 miles one-way
The Niagara Gorge Rim Trail is well-maintained and winds through lush forests offering stunning views of the Niagara River and its many waterfalls. This popular trail is generally flat and easy, traversing along the top of the Niagara Gorge ridge. The southern end of the trail starts at Niagara Falls State Park near Horseshoe Falls and runs for approximately 6 miles, passing several scenic overlooks along the way and connecting the many state parks that are located along the Gorge.
Connecting to the majority of the rest of the trails in the Niagara Gorge Trail System, the Gorge Rim Trail can be hiked in so many different ways making it exciting for hikers time and time again. You could connect onto the Whirlpool Rapids Trail or the Devil’s Hole Trail which allow you to hike down into the gorge, or hike the extent of the trail system by connecting onto the Artpark Gorge Trail at the northern end of the trail which leads all the way into the town of Lewiston.
Whirlpool Rapids Trail
Length: 1.3 miles one-way
The Whirlpool Rapids Trail is a fantastic option for adventure seekers who’d like to get up close and personal with the whirlpool area that’s located in the center of the Niagara Gorge. This is a rugged trail that includes a steep staircase, boulder hopping, and some narrow areas. The whirlpool rapids are a unique natural feature created by the Niagara River created by a switchback in the river several miles downstream of Niagara Falls.
This trail provides some of the best views in the area, allowing you to experience the full majesty of the Niagara Gorge. The whirlpool rapids are worth the strenuous trek and you typically won’t find as many hikers on the Whirlpool Rapids Trail as you will on the more gradual Gorge Rim Trail. We’d definitely recommend wearing sturdy hiking footwear if you plan to hike down into the gorge and be aware that this trail may experience seasonal closures.
Devil’s Hole Trail
Length: 1.25 miles one-way
If you’re looking for a unique hike near Niagara Falls, the Devil’s Hole Trail is a fantastic choice. This moderate 1.25 mile trail is located in Devil’s Hole State Park and connects to the Gorge Rim Trail at its northern end and the Whirlpool Rapids Trail at its southern end. The trail traverses down into the gorge and follows along the Niagara River even further downstream than the whirlpool rapids.
The highlight of the Devil’s Hole Trail is the natural rock cave formation known as Devil’s Hole. Hikers are able to enter and explore the tiny cave, making for an exciting and memorable experience.
One popular option for the Devil’s Hole Trail is to form a 2.5 mile loop by utilizing the Gorge Rim Trail and the two staircases located at both ends of the Devil’s Hole Trail. While parking is available in Devil’s Hole State Park, it’s important to note that the trail may be closed seasonally for hiker safety.
Great Gorge Railway Trail
Length: 1.1 miles one-way
The Great Gorge Railway Trail offers hikers the ability to drop down into the gorge and offers scenic vistas of the river rapids, whilst offering a more gradual incline than some of the other trails that do the same. The trailhead is located near the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center in Niagara Falls State Park, and the trail also connects onto the American Falls Gorge Trail and the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail in other locations. This trail is a great spot for photographers and birdwatchers, offering spectacular views of the Niagara Gorge and rapids via designated overlooks.
Artpark Gorge Trail
Length: 1.3 miles one-way
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
The Artpark Gorge Trail is a moderately easy hiking trail near Niagara Falls that spans 1.3 miles and is generally less popular than the trails upstream that are closer to the falls. This trail follows the ridge of the Niagara Escarpment downstream from the Gorge Trail, providing hikers with breathtaking views of the Niagara Gorge and River. The trail begins in Artpark State Park in Lewiston at its northern end and connects to the Gorge Rim Trail at its southern end, allowing hikers to continue their journey south towards Niagara Falls. For a longer hike, the Artpark Gorge Trail can be paired with the River’s Edge Trail to form a roughly 2-mile loop.
River’s Edge Trail
Length: 1.2 miles round-trip
The River’s Edge Trail is a 1.2 mile round-trip trail near Niagara Falls. It’s an easy trail that runs alongside the Artpark Gorge Trail and leads down into the Niagara Gorge and allows hikers great river and gorge views. You can find the trailhead in Artpark State Park and the other end of the trail connects back to the Artpark Gorge Trail via a staircase near the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.
Robert Moses Recreation Trail
Length: 3.2 miles one-way
The final trail on our list, the Robert Moses Recreation Trail, isn’t actually a hiking trail but rather a paved path that connects to the Gorge Trail at both its northern and southern ends. This trail is popular for walking, jogging, inline skating, biking, and even cross-country skiing in the wintertime! The Robert Moses Recreation Trail is certainly more leisurely than the rest of the trails in the system. It connects back to parking areas in Niagara Falls State Park and Devil’s Hole State Park, however we wouldn’t necessarily plan a hiking itinerary around this hike as you just won’t catch the same great gorge views that are available on the rest of the trails we’ve covered.
Tips for Hiking Near Niagara Falls
Hiking Safety Near Niagara Falls
While the Niagara Gorge Trail offers stunning views and a unique hiking experience, it is important for hikers to take necessary safety precautions. Never approach cliff ledges and remain back a ways from the Niagara River when hiking in the gorge, the rapids are no joke! The trail can be steep and rocky in some areas, so hikers should wear appropriate footwear and be cautious when navigating these sections. We actually conducted an in-depth review of the 5 best budget hiking boots that we think you’ll love if you need new hiking boots. Additionally, hikers should be aware of their surroundings and stay on marked trails, as well as adhere to any seasonal trail closures.
Planning Your Hike at Niagara Falls
When planning your hiking trip near Niagara Falls, be aware that there are parking lots that typically always have availability in each of the state parks along the Niagara Gorge, however, each of the parks assesses a vehicle entrance fee of $10 for cars and $20 for RVs. We’d recommend parking at the location that’s most convenient for the hike you’ve planned.
The best times to visit these trails are going to be off-season or midweek if you’d like to avoid crowds. While there are certainly less popular trails within the Niagara Gorge Trail System, the parks and falls receive visitors from around the world. We’d recommend avoiding holidays if you can.
If you’d like more information on how to best plan your visit, we’d recommend checking out Niagara Falls State Park’s website. We’ve also linked a downloadable trail map of the entire Niagara Gorge Trail System below so that you can make the most of your visit. We hope you enjoy your hike near Niagara Falls, we know we will!
If you’re looking for more great hiking in western New York, check out our guide on the best hiking trails in Letchworth State Park. Letchworth is another must-visit hiking destination in western New York.