With over 15 miles of hiking trails, the waterfalls aren’t the only reason to visit Niagara Falls State Park. Keep reading to learn about six hiking trails in Niagara Falls NY that are too breathtaking to miss. If you brave these trails, you will be rewarded with stunning views of waterfalls and the Niagara River Gorge that you will likely never forget.
Kevin and I are avid hikers, so one of our main reasons for visiting the area (other than seeing the waterfalls) was to do some hiking at Niagara Falls. We had read that there was some beautiful scenery along the Niagara River and couldn’t wait to lace up our hiking boots and see the views for ourselves.
We spent 2 days seeing the sights and hiking near Niagara Falls. And let me tell you – the breathtaking views were well worth the aching feet we had at the end of the day. We just don’t have sights like this back home in Ohio!
If you are wanting to do some hiking in Niagara Falls NY, here are 6 trails you need to check out…
Niagara Falls State Park Trails – Hike the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail
Skill level: easy
Distance: 6.2 miles (one way)
Highlights: Stunning views including Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, the Niagara Gorge, and rapids at the Whirlpool and Devil’s Hole
The Niagara Gorge Rim Trail starts in Niagara Falls State Park at the edge of Horseshoe Falls and follows the river downstream for 6 miles – ending just past the Robert Moses Power Plant. (Actually the trail continues on for another mile as the Artpark Gorge Trail.)
The Niagara Gorge Rim Trail is easy hiking as it has a relatively flat surface. If you are hiking at Niagara Falls with kids, this is the trail I would recommend.
When you hike the portion of the Niagara Gorge Rim trail that goes right through Niagara Falls State Park, you are treated to gorgeous views of all three waterfalls.
We didn’t get the chance to hike all 6 miles of this trail, but we did about half of it. We parked at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center (the only place in Niagara Falls State Park that has free parking) and made our way all the way to Horseshoe Falls. We also hiked the section of the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail that is in Whirlpool State Park.
There are numerous sites to stop and see along the way. With beautiful vistas all along the way, you really can’t go wrong choosing to hike the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail.
Paved Hiking Trails in Niagara Falls NY – Robert Moses Recreation Trail
Distance: 3.2 miles (one way)
Highlights: paved trail
This paved trail is suitable for hiking, jogging, or biking. If you have a child in a stroller or a family member in a wheelchair, this paved multi-use path would be a great option for hiking at Niagara Falls .
The trailhead for the Robert Moses Recreation Trail is at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, which offers free parking.
We didn’t do much of this trail. We attempted to find a letterbox (which was missing) and then turned around. With limited time in the area, we wanted to also do some of the other hiking trails near Niagara Falls. So much hiking, so little time!
Short Distance Hiking at Niagara Falls – the American Falls Gorge Trail
Distance: 1 mile
Highlights: Former site of the Schoellkopf Power Station
This trail runs between the Great Gorge Railway Trail and the Schoellkopf Power Station. If you have time, be sure to take in the exhibits at the power station. It’s hard to fathom that at one point in the 1950’s part of the power station collapsed into the Niagara River Gorge.
Be aware that there are some narrow sections on the American Falls Gorge Trail, but for the most part it’s an easy hike. If you are hiking near Niagara Falls during the summer, you can use the elevator at the power station to get down into the gorge and back up.
Although this particular trail is fairly short, it does connect with other hiking trails in Niagara Falls NY. So you could easily turn it into a longer hike if you wanted.
Easy Hiking Near Niagara Falls – the Great Gorge Railway Trail
Distance: 1.1 miles (one way)
Highlights: overlooks with views of the gorge, Whirlpool Rapids
This trail is a converted railroad track. The gradual grade and stairs makes this an easy trail for hikers of all ages. If you are hiking at Niagara Falls with kids and want to go down in the river gorge, this would be a great trail to do. You can find the trailhead near the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center.
Challenging Hiking Trails Near Niagara Falls – the Whirlpool Rapids Trail
Distance: 1.1 miles
Highlights: Gorgeous views of the Whirlpool and Whirlpool Rapids
If you are looking for hiking trails near Niagara Falls and love the thrill of a challenging hike, you might want to check out the Whirlpool Rapids Trail. This trail is located in Whirlpool State Park, just a few miles from Niagara Falls State Park. The Whirlpool Rapids Trail connects with the Devil’s Hole Trail.
Please note, if you go hiking with children, the Whirlpool Rapid Trail is one you will probably want to skip. A better choice for hiking in the Niagara Falls gorge with kids is the Great Gorge Railway Trail.
The Whirlpool Rapids Trail is difficult to hike due to the uneven steep stairs, narrow sections, and boulder hopping. However, if you are adventurous enough, you will be rewarded with a close-up view of the Whirlpool and Whirlpool Rapids. You truly get a sense of the raw power and danger of these Class VI rapids from the views you get on the Whirlpool Rapids trail.
For the less adventurous, you can get views (albeit further away) of the same area from the easier-to-hike Niagara Gorge Rim Trail, which also runs through Whirlpool State Park.
Hiking in the Niagara Falls Gorge – the Devil’s Hole Trail
Distance: 1.25 miles
Highlights: Stunning views of the gorge walls, Giant Rock, Robert Moses Power Plant, and the Devil’s Hole Rapids
We were told by a fellow hiker that there are some 415 stairs leading down into the gorge at Devil’s Hole State Park. I tried to count them, but lost track trying to make sure I didn’t trip on the uneven stairs and do a face plant as we made our way down to do some hiking in the Niagara Falls gorge. Along our way down, we stopped periodically to enjoy the views of the rock strata in the gorge walls.
We had planned on hiking a loop between Devil’s Hole and Whirlpool state parks, however the rumbles of thunder cut our plans short. We took a few pictures of the river and started our way back up to the rim, trying to dodge rain drops.
Those 400+ stairs that didn’t seem so bad on the way down were quite exhausting on the way back up as we scrambled to get to the top before we got drenched or struck by lightening. We emerged from the gorge soaked and out of breath. I recommend taking your time on the ascent if you plan on hiking this trail. And don’t attempt it if there is a threat of rain!
For more beautiful places to hike in New York state, be sure to check out these great resources…
Hiking Waterfalls in New York: A Guide To The State’s Best Waterfall HikesNiagara Falls for Everybody: What to See and Enjoy-A Complete GuideHiking New York: A Guide To The State’s Best Hiking Adventures
Tips for Hiking at Niagara Falls
- Only attempt these trails during daylight hours. The trails are open from sunrise to sunset. Make sure you allow enough time to get back to your car before the sun goes down.
- Wear appropriate shoes. Flip flops can be downright dangerous – especially when hiking in the Niagara Falls gorge. You need hiking boots or decent athletic shoes to ensure that you don’t lose your footing on the uneven terrain.
- Bring along water. Even on a cool day, you are going to be exerting yourself. If you are planning on doing any of the hiking trails near Niagara Falls, bring along water so you don’t risk becoming dehydrated.
- Bring along a hiking stick or trekking poles. Some of the more challenging Niagara Falls hiking trails have tripping hazards and a hiking pole can help you keep from stumbling on uneven ground.
- Carry your camera, snacks, and any gear in a small backpack. It is helpful to have your hands free to help steady yourself, especially if you are planning a hike down into the gorge.
- Stay on the marked trails. The gorge is largely comprised of loose shale. It’s just not worth the risk of injury or death to leave the trail for a better view.
- Don’t go in the river. The Niagara River is deep and has a dangerous current. If you fall in, you will likely not make it out. When you are hiking near Niagara Falls, stay well away from the edge of the water.
Recommended Hiking Essentials…
Quick Links to Info on This Page
- Niagara Falls State Park Trails – Hike the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail
- Paved Hiking Trails in Niagara Falls NY – Robert Moses Recreation Trail
- Short Distance Hiking at Niagara Falls – the American Falls Gorge Trail
- Easy Hiking Near Niagara Falls – the Great Gorge Railway Trail
- Challenging Hiking Trails Near Niagara Falls – the Whirlpool Rapids Trail
- Hiking in the Niagara Falls Gorge – the Devil’s Hole Trail
- Tips for Hiking at Niagara Falls
Pin this post on Niagara Falls hiking for later:
Want to read more about our trip? Be sure to check out the rest of our Niagara Falls vacation posts.
Have you ever gone on any of the hiking trails in Niagara Falls NY? If so, which was your favorite? Be sure to leave us a comment below. We would love to hear from you. Happy trails!