With sparkling shorelines, rolling vineyards, welcoming patios and a network of really rideable trails and routes, St. Catharines is an ideal destination for city cyclers in search of a scenic fall cycle.
Here are five favourite rides that set the scene for amazing autumn cycling.
1. Welland Canal Parkways Trail: The Welland Canal Parkways Trail offers 45 km of smooth sailing along the water’s edge. Highlights of the ride from St. Catharines to Port Colborne and activities to enjoy along the way include:
- Climbing the elevated observation platform to watch huge ships “climb the mountain” at the Lock 3 Observation deck.
- Getting to know some of the area’s fascinating history at the Catharines Museum.
- Passing the world’s largest flight locks.
- Checking out the recreational waterway that hosted paddling events at the 2015 Pan/Parapan games.
- Exploring Port Colborne’s dockside district, complete with great patios to refuel at for the ride back.
2. Waterfront Trail : For an easy, breezy fall ride, the section of the Waterfront Trail that runs between Port Dalhousie and Port Weller offers a relaxing ride on off-road trails and residential streets that’s a very manageable 20 km round trip. After your ride, spend some time exploring Port Dalhousie. Quench your thirst with a pint at Lock Street Brewing Co., refuel with tacos at Patio Andaluz or enjoy delicious pasta and pizza at The Twisted Pig.
3. Short Hills Provincial Park: Mountain bikers who want to really escape from it all will love the winding forest and meadow trails at Short Hills Provincial Park. There are three different multi-use trails available in the park for cyclists:
- Swayze Falls Trail: 6.2-km trail that loops through fields and forests and offers a spectacular view of the falls.
- Very Berry Trail: 2.6-km trail that is rated moderate to difficult because of several challenging hills.
- Black Walnut Trail: 4.3-km trail that is a mix of old roads and forests. Steep hills and uneven sections make this a more moderate level ride for mountain bikers.
4. The Niagara Wine Route: For cyclists who like the idea of stopping for a little responsible sipping along the way, exploring the Niagara Wine Route is a great way to spend an afternoon. Starting from St. Catharines, head west on Pelham Road to enjoy a beautiful section of freshly paved road with wide, smooth shoulders. Great wineries to visit on and around this section of highway include Henry of Pelham, Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery, Westcott Vineyards, Flat Rock Cellars and Calamus Estate Winery.
5. Greenbelt Route: While the entire length of Greenbelt Route is almost 500 km, beginning with an afternoon ride on the Niagara section is a great introduction. Set out from the starting point of your choice in Lincoln and follow the Greenbelt Route along the ledge of the Niagara Escarpment toward St. Catharines. Along the way, you’ll have no shortage of options of fruit stands and wineries to stop and enjoy. Once you’ve arrived in St. Catharines, enjoy the city’s patio scene and be sure to stop in for a browse at Rapid City Cycle or Liberty Bicycles.
While hotels in other parts of Niagara are bustling with tourists, St. Catharines has a collection of fantastic accommodation options that are a little more low key.