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Dufferin Islands Have You Been?

Dufferin Islands, one of Niagara Falls’ best-kept secrets, is a short walk from Horseshoe Falls.

Dufferin Islands is a quiet, lightly wooded area that is about 10 acres in size. It has a number of walking paths that are marked by creeks that gently wind through the land. The park is nestled at the foot of the heavily forested Niagara Escarpment and has walking bridges.

In the winter, Dufferin Islands is home to many of the displays in the world-famous Festival of Lights, a driving tour of spectacular Christmas-themed lighting displays. It’s so pretty, in fact, it’s hard to imagine that the Duff, as locals sometimes call it, is man-made.

A wide range of birds and insects live at Dufferin Islands, and the ducks and Canadian geese that stop on the waters there have been an attraction for photographers over the decades.

Dufferin Islands History

In the late 1700s, this place was home to both a grist mill and an iron ore mill. The mills were destroyed during the War of 1812.

Dufferin Islands was once known as the Burning Spring, a popular tourist destination in the nineteenth century. A natural gas well was discovered during mill construction, according to Niagara Falls historian Sherman Zavitz. Sniffing money in the air, the owner at the time capped the spring with a barrel, added a pipe to vent the gas, and lit it.

Voila – the Burning Spring was born! People came from all over to see the man-made wonder, but it had to close in 1884 when the gas ran out. That was before 1887, when the Cynthia Islands, as they were then called, were taken over by the Niagara Parks Commission.

Some of the water that used to flow through the Islands is now going to the nearby Toronto Power Station to make electricity. To make the park look more natural, a series of islands and cascades were built.

Open All Year Round

The website AllTrails.com lists Dufferin Islands as a 2.3-kilometer loop trail that is wheelchair and kid-friendly, and a good place for hiking, walking, and trail running.

It’s a nice rest stop or place for a family picnic. it’s open year-round and is a popular spot for wedding photographs and family gatherings.

Dufferin Islands is also a great viewing area during the Winter Festival of Lights season that typically spans from mid-November to the end of January.