The Welland Canals Parkways Trail

The Welland Canals Parkways Trail

The Welland Canals Parkways Trail
4.5
About
This trail follows the canal along its west bank from St. Catharines through Thorold, Welland, and Port Colborne. In Thorold, the path crosses to the "Thorold Island" created between the old third canal and the current fourth canal in Welland, it follows the old fourth canal through the city, paved on both sides of the canal. The trail zigzags across the canal in Port Colborne until it meets the Friendship Trail at Seaway Park.
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles50 reviews
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Try2TravelSustainably
Hamilton, Canada298 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2023 • Couples
Such a nice trail, mostly paved. At one point you can take a ferry and join the Niagara trail too. We have done lots of variations of this. There are lots of places to stop and park. Highly recommended.
Written October 15, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

themadpaddler2016
Mont Tremblant, Canada8 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2022
Part of the greater Niagara cycling route. A spectacular fall ride! Colours, ships, and no traffic! Love doing this with family.
Written October 12, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Alan H
Toronto, Canada183 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022
On a pleasant summer day, four of us (two couples of retirement age) bicycled this trail from the parking area at Charles Ansell Park in St. Catharines all the way south to downtown Port Colborne. We covered about 42 km. The canal itself is mostly attractive, and we enjoyed seeing the large ships ("lakers" and "salties") that ply up and down. We had lengthy stops at the museum and observation deck at Lock 3, which is about 7 km. from the start, and at a restaurant in Welland. In addition, we made short stops along the way for water, photo ops, and consultations.

With the extra time involved in leaving cars at Charles Ansell Park, and getting a ride back from Port Colborne, so that we could then drive the cars to Port Colborne to retrieve the bicycles, it was a long and fairly tiring day. We wondered if we should have ended the adventure at Welland, although we did enjoy the sense of achievement in completing the trail.

We did some reading about the trail before we left, including in Dan Roitner's "Bicycle Park & Rail Trails in Ontario" and several on-line reviews and discussions. But these didn't prepare us for some surprises.

Some of what we read described the trail as if it were built along flat terrain, except for one or two points, mainly at Lock 3. We've biked along the Erie Canal, and THAT is a flat trail (except at Lockport, NY). The Welland Canals Parkways Trail is NOT like that. There are lots of ups and downs. The hill up to Lock 3 wasn't the longest or steepest; that distinction probably belonged to the climb up to the overview of Lock 7 in Thorold. That's where we were biking up (or walking our bikes up!) most of the height of the Niagara escarpment, which, people say, is about as high as the Statue of Liberty. The ascent continued past Lock 7, too. In addition, there were numerous small hills that we had to bike up in order to cross a road — for instance, when the trail near the water level didn't go under a bridge, and took us up to the level of the road in order to get to the other side. Or sometimes the trail climbed in order to navigate you around canal-side buildings, or to get to a bicycle bridge, or, you know, just because that's what the people designing the trail decided the terrain required.

At Port Robinson, a little town which the Welland Canal splits in two, we saw the little free ferry for walkers and bicyclists that crosses the canal during the months from the late spring to the early fall. It's called "Bridge-It". We saw this ferry service referenced in some of the literature that we read beforehand, but didn't really understand its purpose until we got there and talked to the ferry operator. It replaces a bridge that was destroyed by a ship in 1974. A decision was made then that the traffic across the canal at that point didn't justify an expensive new bridge. The little ferry makes about 100 journeys a day, partly for people who live in Port Robinson but also for tourists on foot and cyclists. You can make the crossing just for the fun of it, and the round trip might take no more than 20 minutes. Or you can use it to cross to a bike trail on the east side of the canal, or to take a short cut to Niagara Falls. The financing of the ferry service involves the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., Niagara Region, and the city of Thorold.

Just past Port Robinson (heading south) the trail leaves the current Welland Canal and heads southwest to follow the western shore of what people call "the old canal." The "old canal" is a portion of the fourth canal (the current canal) which was bypassed in 1971. The problem with the "old canal" was that it divided the city of Welland, and ships often used to shut down traffic across the Welland bridge several times a day. The by-pass was built in a less populated area. The "old canal" still divides Welland, but the lift-bridge seldom needs to be raised any more. The trail north and south of Port Robinson, before Welland, was particularly lovely — quiet, woodsy, and scenic.

The trail is usually easy for cyclists to identify because it's wide and paved, but we found that it sometimes seemed to disappear. In St. Catharines and in Thorold we never got lost; the trail was reasonably well marked with signage, although even there we didn't find anything like blazes on trees. But in Welland and Port Colborne, we often had to wait and ask directions and advice from someone bicycling in the opposite direction. In Welland, where the "old canal" has become "the Welland Recreational Waterway", the trail seemed to come to an end where the recreational waterway seemed to come to an end, at the Welland International Flatwater Centre. (To remind you, we were riding from north to south.) What we were apparently supposed to know, although there were no signs telling us this, was that we needed to make our way to the east side of the waterway, bike up a hill to Canal Bank Street, head south across Highway 58A and over a bridge, and then look on our right-hand side for the trail to reappear. In order to figure this out, we depended on the help of a friendly bicyclist coming from the opposite direction. This trail on the right-hand side of Canal Bank Street south of Highway 58A, when we found it, then returned us west, and met something called Colborne St., which is where we resumed riding south. At this point the "old canal" reappeared as well. Mud Lake Conservation Area was on our right, and, just past that, the "old canal" ended and we rejoined the current Welland Canal.

Soon after that, we got to Port Colborne, where we were greeted with a sign saying "Welcome to Port Colborne" and an iron barrier across most of the path, which didn't seem very welcoming. Presumably the barrier was intended to keep out motor vehicles, although in fact Port Colborne was the only part of the trail where we kept running into gas-engine motor scooters. And in Port Colborne it became even more confusing to follow the trail. What we think was the proper thing to do was to bike along the west side of a large canal-side factory, then cross a bridge to what is called "the Island" and through Derek Point Memorial Garden, and then to cross Highway 3 towards Lock 8 Gateway Park, which took us to a bike trail paralleling Killaly St. At that point the trail seemed to end. We biked onto Killaly St. itself in order to get off "the Island" and aim ourselves towards downtown Port Colborne. We looked for the trail to continue on the west side of the the canal through Port Colborne, but instead we found a railway track there, not a bike trail. And we found no further signs or bike paths. From what we read, we think that the trail is supposed to end at H.H. Knoll Lakeview Park, on Lake Erie, but as far as we could figure out, you have to make your way there through city streets.

One reason we thought that it might have been better to finish our day in Welland is that the trail through the southern part of Welland and through Port Colborne felt like a bit of a slog. Some of the terrain is rather unattractive, with barren land and industrial factories and busy highways and city streets, and the lack of signage was definitely unhelpful. Likewise, Roitner, in his helpful book, recommends that, if you can't bike the whole length of the trail, you should choose the middle part. It puzzles me that the leaders of Welland and Port Colborne haven't put a bit more effort into realizing and promoting the recreational and tourist potential of this trail through their jurisdictions.

Nevertheless, our overall impression of the day was that it was a fun adventure, challenging enough but not too challenging. Bicycling together on a wide paved trail through some mostly attractive landscape and waterscape on a fine summer day, and skirting some interesting old Ontario towns, was a great way to spend the day.
Written August 11, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

lildrling
Toronto, Canada130 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2021
Rode the entire length from Port Colborne to St. Catharines in an afternoon (about 3 hours). A pleasant ride along the canal, and through parks and towns along the way.
Written September 20, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Robby G C
Toronto, Canada78,235 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2020
The Welland Canals Parkways Trail let us walking or hiking on the path nearby the the Canal.

It is a nice walk. We can see boats here.

We also find friends to talk with each other as well.

While we walk we may find a boat coming in.

Hiking to see a boat.

A must see!
Written April 15, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Steven K
Murrysville, PA73 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2019
This trail follows the canal from lake to lake. It is paved the whole way. There are some scenic areas along the way (and a few industrial sites across the canal from the trail, also). It is a fairly easy ride the whole way with some minor rises and falls, and one medium (in my opinion) hill by the locks near Thorold.

Bonus for us was watching a large cruise ship (MS Hamburg) moving through the locks while we were on the trail. That was pretty cool.
Written October 16, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ohtheplacesyoullgo5
St. Catharines, Canada93 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2019
Decided to walk/hike the entire trail which is 43km. This will take 6-8 hours depending on how fast you are. The trail is accessible for all ages and body types. You can access it from many of the lock points. There are 8 locks in total, lock 3 has the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre where you can watch the ships on the viewing platform. They also have a number of programs and tours to choose from. Bring lots of snacks and water depending how long you go for. Some sections may be hard to park your car right next to the trail. You can check the St. Lawrence Seaway website for ship times. The trail is nicely paved and also works well for strollers and bikes.
Written August 19, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

David M
Leamington, Canada277 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2019 • Couples
We were going to be in the area so we thought to bring our bicycles and try this trail. There are many trails in the area that are good for biking but this is the one that we chose because it was closest to our hotel. From Lock 3 to Lock 1 there is was a heavy mix of bicycle and pedestrian traffic. From Lock 3 the other way, there was less pedestrian traffic so we could move a little easier. Tough hill just as you get into Thorold and they even have a sign for an easier route (of course that one takes you through town by all of the shops - they are not dumb).

Take as long as you want and go as far as you want.
Written June 23, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Maurene_K
Dover, NH10,977 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2018 • Solo
The Welland Canals Parkway Trail is a paved trail for bicycling and walking. It runs from Lock 1 in Port Weller through St. Catharines, Thorold, and Welland before ending in Port Colborne. It is 45 km / 28 miles long. It is so named because it parallels the Welland Canal and Welland Canals Parkway. It runs in between them.

It has many access points along the way. There are several in St. Catharines alone.

I discovered the trail when I was at George’s Greek Village after having lunch with a group of Canadian friends during a week-long visit, accompanied by some of my American friends who also made the trip.

Exploring its route, I found another access point about 400 metres / 1/4 of a mile north of the St. Catharines Museum & Welland Canal Centre. It was a small park with a playground and parking area.

The 1/4 of a mile each way up to and back from the museum was a perfect after-lunch walk for me. I’d already seen the Whitefish Bay laker ship navigating the canal and transiting Lock 3 before lunch.

I wanted an unencumbered walk so I locked my purse and bulky camera in the trunk and brought only my trekking poles with me.

This is a very easy trail with a pretty flat surface.

I rate Welland Canals Parkway Trail at 5.0 and highly recommend a visit.

There is no admission charge for using the trail.

If you found this review helpful, please click THANK below.
Written January 27, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Wolfmaan
Nunavut, Canada219 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2019 • Friends
This trail has one end in St. Catharines and the other in Port Colborne. The trial is fairly flat with a few gentle hills. Mostly suited for cycling, canicross, roller blading or other long distance activities. During the warm weather you can see everything from cruise ships to military vessels make their way through the canal. There are tons of public made side trails but they usually are very muddy. Not a lot of forest, mostly small shrubs. A great place to take the family for a walk, or watch ships.
Written January 6, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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The Welland Canals Parkways Trail - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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