Picture this: You’ve devoted an entire month to nothing but walking. From the shores Georgian Bay on the Bruce Peninsula you began your journey, trekking on foot down the length of the Niagara Escarpment. You’ve kept an incredible pace, eight hours of hiking a day, clearing 30 kilometers before each sunset. In the final stretch of your journey you cross all four Welland canals, those both active and resigned to history. Your last stops are Woodend, with the hill overlooking the teaching vineyards of Niagara College, and Firemen’s Park at the north-most point of world famous Niagara Falls. The locals you pass are dog walkers and recreational joggers. They have no idea what you’ve endured. Your journey concludes as the forest canopy opens into the well manicured grounds of Queenston Heights. You pass over former battlefields and monuments to past glories, only to arrive at your ultimate destination:
A six foot tall pile of rocks between a parking lot and a busy street.
If there ever were a spot which said “it’s the journey not the destination that matters” the unassuming cairn at the Southern Terminus of the Bruce Trail may be it. The spot is marked by a stone cairn and plaque at on a stretch of grass between the Queenston Heights parking lot and Portage Road. The border offices for the Queenston Lewiston Bridge loom behind it where highway 405 enters the United States.
The Bruce will undoubtedly be a reoccurring character on Check In Niagara, as it’s home to any number of interesting spots in the region. The trail itself, which stretches 800 kilometers (or 500 miles) to Tobermory, traverses the Niagara Escarpment, which is one of thirteen UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves in Canada. The trail land itself is owned by a number of parties, including the Government of Ontario, the Bruce Trail Conservancy and countless private landowners who have graciously permitted it to pass through their properties.
In Niagara the Southern Terminus also serves to link up a number of interesting routes. The road which runs next to the marker is Portage Road, which while unremarkable in its present form was for generations a portage route around rapids and the Falls. In the distance the Greater Niagara Circle Route follows the Niagara Parkway from the Fallsview tourist area, turning here slightly before it descends into Niagara-on-the-Lake.
You can find more on the Bruce at the BruceTrail.org.