Niagara Falls State Park: Gorge Rim Trail

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Western NY Parks

In September, I set out with a road trip buddy to visit some park units in upstate New York. For me, the highlight of this trip was visiting my 100th National Park Service unit. That puts me at Bronze status in the National Parks Traveler’s Club. After Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site we headed to Niagara Falls. After exploring the Goat Island section of the park, we headed back across the bridge to walk the Gorge Rim Trail.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls consists of three waterfalls which span the Niagara Gorge along the United States and Canadian border. Horseshoe Falls, the largest of the three, straddles the border and is also called the Canadian Falls. The smaller American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls lie on the New York State side of the border.

Goat Island in New York separates the Canadian Falls from the other two falls. The Niagara River forms all of the falls as it runs through the gorge. These are the most powerful waterfalls in North America. Nearly 6 million cubic feet flow over the falls every minute.

In 1883, then governor Grover Cleveland authorized land acquisition to create a state park to preserve the area around the Falls. Canada followed suit and created the Queen Victoria Niagara Falls Park on the Canadian side.

Gorge Rim Tail

The Niagara Gorge Rim Trail runs along the Niagara River, downriver from the falls. While the trail primarily showcases the river, it also invites exploration of the region’s industrial heritage, with the historic Schoellkopf Power Station as one of its highlights. The power station harnessed the power of the falls from 1905 until 1956. In 1956, water seeped into the plant and caused a catastrophic collapse. We rode the elevator from street level down to the docks at the base of the ruins.

The 6.2-mile trail begins near the Niagara Falls Discovery Center and follows the rim of the Niagara Gorge. The trail connects three state parks: Niagara Falls State Park, Devil’s Hole State Park, and Whirlpool State Park.

Each park offers its own unique natural wonders and recreational opportunities. Niagara Falls State Park takes center stage with its iconic falls, while Devil’s Hole State Park allows you to explore the gorge’s rugged terrain and turbulent rapids. Additionally, Whirlpool State Park treats you to stunning views of the Niagara Whirlpool and the mighty rapids of the Niagara River. We only walked a portion of this trail before turning back towards Niagara Falls State Park.

Western NY Road Trip

Location: 332 Prospect St, Niagara Falls, NY
Designation: State Park
Date designated/established: 1885
Date of my visit: September 26, 2022