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Is Niagara Falls Prettiest in the Fall?October 17, 2018

It's that time of year again when Niagara Falls really comes alive in its most natural colours.

The beautiful green that can be found all along the Niagara Parkway, all around the falls and through to Queenston Heights and Niagara-on-the-Lake is giving way to the red, yellow and orange shades of autumn. Niagara is such a driver- and bicycle-friendly place that it's worth the drive to come to see Mother Nature's beauty for yourself.

A good place to start is the Parkway - for argument's sake, let's say you start in Fort Erie. Maybe at Old Fort Erie, within sight of the Peace Bridge and itself shrouded in trees, lawn and bush. Imagine the soldiers who lived and died there more than 200 years ago; let's just say it looks much better now.

From there to Niagara Falls it is about 30 kilometres so, on a nice fall day, a bicycle ride is a good option. Anyway, off you go, along the Parkway and under the Peace Bridge toward Niagara Falls.

The splendour of nature is all around you, literally. The Canadian side is home to some of the nicest homes in the area, most set against a solid background of all types of trees. Look across the water at the American side and it's just as colourful.

The view from either side of the Niagara River is one of those things Canadians and Americans have always enjoyed sharing.

Now as you approach the Falls, you'll pass through Chippawa, a pretty little village on the waterfront abundant in history and foliage. Take in the view as you go across the Welland River, and you're headed toward Niagara Falls.

The looming escarpment provides a real showcase of fall colours. Veer off the Parkway for a bit and stop at Dufferin Islands - there's no charge to park - and take a peaceful walk along the trails that wind through the woods. Overhead, more visible as the leaves drop, is the Niagara Parks Commission headquarters, once home to wealthy Canadian magnate Harry Oakes.

Back on the Parkway, you'll pass the falls. It might be another good time to stop, so you can see the falls and look back at the forested escarpment that looms over you.

On the road again - now you're passing world-famous landmarks like the Butterfly Conservatory and the Floral Clock, pictured on postcards the world over for more than a century. And the trees just never quit, making a beautiful mosaic for you to view.

Now you're at Queenston Heights - and you thought you'd seen trees? Nothing compares to this place, and the Bruce Trail that starts there before meandering all across Ontario.

And that's just the waterfront. Niagara Falls also has two spectacular parks dedicated to preserving nature.

There's Firemen's Park, in the north end, and Heartland Forest in the south just off Montrose Road with trails, a nature centre and thick, gorgeous forest.

And for a completely different view of the fiery fall beauty of Niagara, try these:

  • the Whirlpool Aero Car, an old-style cable car ride from one side of the Niagara River to the other (but never outside Canada), it places you right in the middle of the rapids below for a look back at both shores;
  • ride to the top of the Skylon Tower. Now that's a view of fall colours you absolutely won't get anywhere else;
  • finally, take a trip on the zip line near the bottom of Clifton Hill, adjacent to the American Falls. That way you can ride headlong, downward, looking all around at the fall colours (if you dare open your eyes!)

Niagara is famous as a place to get away from the bustle and buildings, and back to the open spaces and clean air. Autumn might just be the best time of all to visit.

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