Queenston Heights Loop – Bruce Trail, Upper Canada Heritage Trail & General Brock Side Trail
The Queenston Heights Loop offers 11 kilometers of trails that take approximately 3 ½ hours to complete. This is a relatively easy trail as it is generally flat with only a few steep climbs and descents.
Directions: From Highway 405 take the Queenston exit. Look for the signs for Queenston Heights Park, and enter the parking lot, which has amble space for parking.
Canada’s longest footpath, the Bruce Trail, begins here at historic Queenston Heights Park. An important battle took place at the Heights during the War of 1812, when the American and the British fought for control of Canada. It was here on October 13, 1812 that Major General Sir Issac Brock led his British troops in a victory against invading American troops. Brock lost his life during the battle, and an impressive monument has been built in the park to commemorate his life and role in protecting Canada from American domination.
The Bruce Trail begins at the stone cairn at the eastern end of the park. The path follows the edge of the Escarpment through dense woods made up of cherry, maple, ash and oak trees. Follow this path for about 3 km., across a small creek and continue straight until you come to a junction, proceed to your left and you should come to an open clearing. From here you follow the trail straight down into a dense wooded area.
You will come to another junction, stay to your right and follow the trail to an old road. Turn right onto the road and follow the gravel path, until you come to another junction, which you will turn right on. The trail continues down through a younger forest. Turn left at the next junction, up and over a small hill. Keep to your right at the next junction and go down the set of stairs, which leads you to an open meadow.
At the next junction turn left, until you reach the next junction where you will proceed to your right. You will then descend steeply down to the bottom until you meet up with a steep trail. Climb up the side of the hill until you reach the upper trail, which follows along a fence and then takes you into a mature wooded area.
Continue along the trail, which descends sharply, until you come to an old railway bed. This stretch of railroad was once a part of the New York Central Railroad and is the beginning of the Upper Canada Heritage Trail, which is marked with blue blazes. The trail follows the railway bed south, down a slope for a short distance, through a lush wooded area with dense vegetation. You will then reach a nearby side road, which you will follow for about 30 meters before the trail heads down a lane. You will come to a junction at the bottom of the lane turn left and follow the gravel path into a wooded area.
The trail then emerges into an open area before reentering into an area lined with baneberry bushes. It then reenters an open section lined with oak trees, before coming to another road. Follow north along the road until you come to a laneway where the trail cuts across into a section that is somewhat overgrown. Continue through the wooded area until you come to an opening at Eighth Line. You will take this quiet road for about 8 km, which runs parallel to Concession 1. To the east side of the trail you will see picturesque young orchards. You will then cross East West Line encountering the pretty little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The trail then turns right at John Street and continues to Charlotte Street where you will encounter the General Brock Side Trail, which will take you back to Queenston Heights Park where you began.
The General Brock Trail runs through a grove of large oak trees for a short distance before it reaches a side road that runs toward the river on your left. Turn left at this road and follow it over a small bridge, which crosses over a pretty wooded creek. The trial then leads to another side road, follow the trail along this street staying to the west side of the road. You will come to an old stately stone mansion built in 1833, by Alexander Hamilton. You may want to stop and read the stone plaque, which is situated at the front of the home, and provides information about the Hamilton family history and the construction of the home.
Continue along the trail as it turns left and follows Walnut Street, where you will see the schoolyard of Laura Secord Primary School. When you reach the bottom of Walnut Street, turn to your right onto Princess Street. Continue along Princess Street until you come to a road leading down to a boat launch area. Turn down this road, staying on the right hand side until you come to the trail, which enters into the woods to your right, just before a sign for the Boat Ramp.
The trail continues through the woods, which are made up of primarily locust trees. You will then encounter double blazes, which indicates that the trail turns right and leads you to a set of overgrown stairs. At the top of the stairs you will encounter a grassy knoll, from here the trail turns to your left, out to a paved road where you will turn right and climb as the road ascends uphill past a row of houses. Look for a set of double blazes on the back of a road sign to your left, the trail then turns left leading into a wooded area, with a wide path. Follow this path uphill until you reach a viewpoint, where the trail continues along a paved path that leads uphill. You will come to the Niagara Parkway, which you will cross into a park on the opposite side. Please use extreme caution when crossing the busy Parkway. Once in the park follow the path leading to the flagstone stairs. These steps will take you back up to the General Brock Monument where you began your trek.