On the Run in…Niagara-on-the-Lake

Reposted from www.runningmagazine.ca
By Deanna Simpson

Niagara-on-the-LakeLocated 90 minutes from Toronto, and 30 minutes from Buffalo, N.Y., Niagaraon- the-Lake, Ont. is a historic 19th century town, fronting the Niagara River on the east, and Lake Ontario on the north. It enjoys a protected micro-climate that makes it a perfect running destination.

Niagara-on-the-Lake was the first capital of Upper Canada, from 1792–1797, and visitors wander the streets to see the lush gardens and historic houses built just after the Americans burned the town to the ground during The War of 1812. The town is also a well-known destination for theatre lovers. The celebrated Shaw Festival presents George Bernard Shaw-era plays annually from April through November.

Queen’s Parade Loop

A picturesque short run has never been easier than in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Within 6k, you can see the Niagara River, historic estates, a lovely main street filled with shops, and Fort George – the site of a famous battle of the War of 1812.

Starting at the corner of Queen and King Streets , the main intersection of the Old Town, run northeast along King Street towards the Niagara River. As you crest a small hill, you’ll see a lovely gazebo overlooking the water – this looks historic, and is the site of many wedding photos, but was actually built for the movie The Dead Zone in 1983.

Turn right on Ricardo Street, and notice all the houses built to support a thriving 19th century port. You’ll run between the Niagara-on-the-Lake Sailing Club and Queen’s Landing resort, before seeing Navy Hall on your left as you ascend the only significant hill on the route. This was the site of the first parliament of Upper Canada, held in 1792.

At the top of the hill, you’ll begin running on the Niagara River Recreational Trail.

To your left, over the water and only a short distance away, you’ll see the United States and Fort Niagara. As you enter Paradise Grove, a parking lot will appear on your right. Run along the path next to the parking lot to get to the road (called Queen’s Parade at this point), and cross to run along the path next to John Street.

At King Street, you’ll see Butler’s Barracks, the staging ground for soldiers in the First World War. Turn right on King Street, then left onto Johnson Street, and enjoy the beautiful houses along the quiet tree-lined street. At Simcoe Street make a right, and run one block, then turn right onto Queen. This will be your victory lap. Queen Street is lined with flowers, shops and restaurants. Watch for the courthouse, which was the site of the first lending library in Canada, and finish your run at King Street. If you’re feeling a bit thirsty, raise a glass of Niagara wine to celebrate your run. gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5960202
On the run in… Niagara on the Lake

Niagara on the Lake wineries.

Niagara River Run

Although this run is 23k, it’s an out-and-back route so you can shorten or lengthen it as little or as much as you wish. A riverside trail follows the Niagara River Parkway to Queenston Heights, which Winston Churchill described as “the prettiest Sunday drive in the world.”

From the corner of King Street, follow Queen Street southeast. It will become Queen’s Parade, and then the Niagara River Parkway. Hop onto the recreational pathway next to the road, and run a total of 12.5k. You’ll see Brock’s Monument high on the hill above you before turning around and running back to the Old Town.

For those who need bathroom stops on a long run, there are public bathrooms at McFarland House and Queenston Heights Park, which are open from Victoria Day through to Thanksgiving. There are also friendly wineries along the route for additional stops –you can pop back in later on for wine tastings and to buy a bottle in thanks. gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5960232

Queenston Hill Climb

If you’re training for a race and feel the need for a hill workout, drive 12k down the Niagara River Parkway to Queenston Heights Park. There is no lighting, so this is strictly a daytime route. You can park your car in the lot inside the gate and start your run at the base of Brock’s Monument. Follow the stone walkway to the stairs at the iron gates, then turn left and run down a well-maintained trail through the forest, until you reach York Road. Make a right and carefully cross the Niagara River Parkway, following York Road as it becomes York Street. Make a left at Front Street, then at Dumfries Street, turn right, and follow the road as it takes you to the Queenston Docks. When you reach the water, dip your toe in the mighty Niagara River and look to your right to see the famous whirlpool area. Turn around and run back to the monument. gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5960238
On the run in… Niagara on the Lake

Downtown Niagara on the Lake

On the Town

Just down the Niagara River Parkway, the Niagara Falls Women’s Half-Marathon (nfwhm.com) is held at the beginning of June, and many participants choose to stay in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

At the end of June, the Niagara U ltra Races ( welovetorun.com/events/niagaraultra.html) are held here, with 10K, half-marathon, marathon and 50K events. It’s a lively small-town event that ends with a pizza party at Butler’s Barracks.

What to Do
After your run, try to visit some of the 27 wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake, before taking in a play at the Shaw Festival. Wander along the beach at Lake Ontario, or play a round of golf at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club – the oldest links in North America.

Where to Eat
In addition to the many wineries in town, Niagara-on-the-Lake is the epicentre of the Niagara locavore movement. An internationally lauded local restaurant, the Stone Road Grill (238 Mary Street) is a funky and fun dinner location with first-class food, despite its strip-mall location. For a more casual meal, try the Sandtrap Pub & Grill (358 Mary Street) – be sure to try the local microbrew Oast House Boathouse on tap. After dinner, stretch your legs with a walk down to the Olde Angel Inn (224 Regent Street), and soak up the atmosphere in their pub, which locals have enjoyed since 1789.

Deanna Simpson is a software developer who runs and kayaks in Niagara, and is a co-founder of the NOTL Road Runners.