Searching For Niagara Falls’ Quieter Cousins

Think you’ve been there, done that when it comes to seeing waterfalls in Niagara? If your waterfall bucket list begins and ends with Niagara Falls, there is so much more to see here! This fall, skip the crowds and explore some of the Niagara Escarpment’s other watery wonders. With four beautiful waterfalls just a quick drive away, St. Catharines makes a perfect home base for a day of waterfall wandering.

Ball’s Falls, Ball’s Falls Conservation Area, Jordan

Flat, gravel paths make this waterfall trek a great choice if you’re bringing young children along. There is both an Upper Ball’s Falls and a Lower Ball’s Falls that the Twenty Mile Creek plummets over, and both are well worth the short walk to get to from the parking lot. Children will also enjoy exploring around the park’s mid-19th century village, which includes the original Ball family home, a flour mill, a lime kiln, a church, a blacksmith shop, a carriage shed and more.

From Water to Wine: After you visit Ball’s Falls, stop by Cave Spring Vineyard in Jordan Village. Make a reservation in advance to save your seat in the winery’s brand new Vineyard Tasting Room. Enjoy your wine with one of Cave Spring’s beautifully prepared charcuterie plates.

Rockway Falls, Rockway Conservation Area, Just Outside of St. Catharines

Hiking this trail through the Fifteen Mile Creek valley will make you feel like you’ve time travelled back to the prehistoric era. As you hike toward the two waterfalls, you’ll make your way around huge, moss-covered boulders. The first waterfall you’ll pass is the smaller of the two, with a height of 12.2 meters. The second waterfall plunges an impressive 19.5 metres.

From Water to Wine: After Rockway Falls, stop by Henry of Pelham Family Estate, which is just down the road. Their Coach House Café, open through Thanksgiving, is a perfect place to enjoy a tasty lunch and a glass of wine.

Swayze Falls, Shorthills Provincial Park | Just Outside of St. Catharines

Short Hills Provincial Park, located about 4 km southwest of St. Catharines, has a number of small waterfalls dotted around the property. With its 14-metre drop, Swayze Falls is the largest. You’ll find it on the Swayze Falls Trail, a 6.2-km loop that is classified as a more challenging trail.

From Water to Wine: After your trek through the Short Hills, swing by 13th Street Winery for a glass of wine. Be sure to pick up some of their famous butter tarts, which were once voted by House and Home Magazine as Canada’s best.

Louth Falls, Louth Conservation Area, 3193 Staff Ave, Jordan Station

This section of the Sixteen Mile Creek valley is off the beaten path but well worth finding. Park in the small lot at the end of Staff Avenue and look for the blue blazes marking the Louth Side Trail.

From Water to Wine: While on Staff Road, stop in for something delicious at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery. Order one of the winery’s charcuterie and cheese boxes, lox boxes or grazing boxes in advance for a perfect post-hike reward!

Please keep in mind that after a long, dry summer, Niagara’s quieter waterfalls may not be rushing as much as their big, crashy cousin. Even without water, these waterfalls are still an impressive stony sight! To increase your chances of seeing a more impressive cascade, time your visit after a significant rainfall.

Experience Niagara’s Other Watery Wonder

While these waterfalls are picture-perfect proof of the wonders that Mother Nature can work with water, there’s another spot in St. Catharines that offers a nod to the magic that happens when humans harness the power of this element. Head to the St. Catharine’s Museum and Welland Canal Centre’s elevated observation deck to watch huge ships from all over the world navigate their way through Lock 3 on their journey through the St. Lawrence Seaway System. Watching the lock fill with 9.4 million litres of water, all with the force of gravity, to float the massive freighters up the Niagara Escarpment is an impressive sight that will leave you marvelling at this human-made wonder. Afterward, enjoy a meal in  Downtown St. Catharines to get a taste for the city’s dynamic dining scene.

Make it a waterfall weekend!

With this awesome Stay One Night, Get One Night Free promotion, it’s a great time to book a fall stay in St. Catharines.

Round out your stay with additional restaurant, winery, shopping and activity suggestions from  Tourism St. Catharines and Shop Lincoln. You can also read our latest blog posts on touring Niagara wine country, fall cycling in Niagara, Niagara’s culinary and craft brew scene and exploring the Town of Lincoln for more trip inspiration.

COVID-19 Considerations

To help protect the health of yourself and others, please remember to bring and wear your face mask, wash and sanitize your hands regularly and practice physical distancing of at least 2 m / 6 ft. Contacting the places you wish to visit in advance is recommended to check to see if reservations are required.