Niagara Nature Tours
Niagara Nature Tours promotes low impact educational ecotourism experiences.
The corner-stone of our company is education.
But if education is a corner-stone, then enjoyment is our touchstone.

Following the guidelines and principles of ecotourism we decided that "supporting our local culture" meant supporting the local arts community IE "the starving artist" To that end we combine the arts & sciences with nature to provide unique programming and tours at all levels of interest that will satisfy everyone, beginners and professionals alike. We utilize the best local talent in the arts and sciences: wine writers, consultants and growers; horticulturists; historians; storytellers; musicians; poets; artists; professors, scientists and naturalists.
Carla Carlson

"Niagara Nature Tours bases its programs on the premise that the geologic history of the Great Lakes basin has had a major influence on the physical and human geography of the Niagara Peninsula. To understand the local physical geography, the pattern of early settlement, the flow of 19th Century battles and the economic development of this area; the role of the underlying rocks, soils and the process responsible must be appreciated. This role is not restricted to past events. The current expansion in the Niagara grape and wine industry has its roots deep in the natural history of this region.

Our tours examine the patterns of wildlife and Native migration to this area after the last ice age, look at how the European settlers influenced the type of agriculture we have today and the industries that have developed; and how all these things were influenced by the physical geography. By going back to the beginning we can understand more clearly that our history has in many ways been determined literally on the lay of the land. This allows a stronger appreciation of the Niagara Escarpment, Niagara Falls, the Welland Canal, and the Quarries that provided stone for beautiful historic buildings and concrete aggregate for modern structures.

Our winery tours focus on influence of local geographic features and how their interaction results in a local environment that permits the cultivation of the high quality vinifera grapes. Although hardier varieties of grapes thrive throughout much of Southern Ontario, it is the vinifera grapes that are necessary to make great wines. The Niagara wine growing area is a narrow strip of land lying between the Niagara Escarpment on the South and Lake Ontario to the North. Lake Ontario exerts a moderating influence on the local climate. In combination with the Niagara Escarpment, it is also responsible for air flow patterns that help protect tender vines and fruit trees from the killing frosts that frequently occur just outside of this zone. The tours will include visits to local wineries with presentations on grape growing and wine making by industry professionals. We can provide up to one week of educational, entertaining Wine and Regional Cuisine programming. And of course, an opportunity to sample the world class wines of Niagara!

Our geology tours of Niagara focuses on the natural history of the Niagara Escarpment. Starting with the origin of its rocks as sands and muds on the floor of an ancient sea, its history is traced from before the age of the dinosaurs, through the Ice Ages, up to the present. Along the way you will see how the different types of rocks were responsible for the development of the escarpment and how the escarpment was responsible for one of the world's greatest tourist attractions, Niagara Falls. Depending on the tour itinerary, a visit to the base of The Falls or a hike into the special environment of the Niagara River Gorge may be included.
Sincerely, Brian Grant
Niagara Nature Tour's Geologist

The 'easy' tours are organized for ease of travel -- motor coaches, smaller vans or limousines drive through beautiful countryside hitherto unexplored by tour companies. Niagara Nature Tour's guide will explain the natural history and stories of the area. Stops will be made in the Niagara Parks Comission which has trails that are made for large or small groups, with ease of accessibility in mind (wheelchairs can be accommodated upon request). Those participating can either take part in gentle informative rambles, wait on the bus, or remain outside at picnic tables for the short duration of the stop.
The 'moderate' tours are a combination of the above, with vehicle stops being longer in duration, and along trails that are not wheelchair accessible. Depending upon the request group, the outdoor rambles could incorporate hills and sections of the famouse Niagara Escarpment 'Bruce Trail' and natural areas that are not sidewalk quality, but are still comfortable walking for anyone able to negotiate natural areas that are not too strenuous.
The 'difficult' tour designations would be designed for people in good health that are safely capable of hiking, walking and general outdoor activities. Their outdoor stops would include natural history walks that descend the many steps in the Niagara Glen Gorge (and ascend of course!), or along the Niagara Escparment trails that can be steep and rough.

A view along the Niagara Glen gorge
To view a 360 degree panoramic view of the Niagara Gorge
Click on photo at left.
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Naturalization and Restoration
Programme for ˝ day - 1 week: Incorporating the theme of naturalization and restoration this is an excellent opportunity for students to explore the wonders of nature and discover it's natural beauty. We have developed a workbook with 6 modules that take students through different workshops and outings and games. This 48 hour camp includes trips to the Niagara Parks Commission, the Niagara Glen, the Butterfly Conservatory, the Tall Grass Prairie, Niagara Falls, the Bruce Trail along the Niagara Escarpment. During the camp they build birdhouses, plant native plants along the Escarpment and learn about Bird of Prey, Integrated Pest Management (Lady Bugs the good guys!) and Alien Invaders!
This programme would be appropriate to adapt for adults or children from anywhere in the world. What they learn during this camp is applicable anywhere. We supply a ratio of 1 instructor per 12 students. Adult chaperones must accompany the group......or else we increase our number of instructors.
Canadian Homestay Programme
We have organized 2 day to 5 day programmes for 6 - 12 participants staying in upscale B&B's. The intent is intense local programming with families and professionals in the Food & Wine industry, Agriculture, Arts and Nature in Niagara. Our programme includes neighborhood barbeques; house and garden tours; cooking classes; tours, hikes, classes, winery tours and meals etc.
The emphasis is on Canadian family experiences.

All of the following programmes developed exclusively by NNT have been used by Elderhostel Canada. This programming is available for any groups.
#1. "Ecorestoration - Naturalization And Gardening For Birds And Butterflies Naturalization is taking the landscaping and naturalist world by storm. Learn the art and science of butterfly gardening from experts in the field of gardening for birds and butterflies and learn the philosophy behind the naturalization movement. Anyone who enjoys the outdoors, nature photography, botany, geology and the gentle pursuit of gardening (even from an armchair or a high-rise balcony) will enjoy the variety of speakers and restoration projects on our Niagara itinerary. Included are lectures, slides, tours, a sketching workshop and the Niagara Parks Butterfly conservatory. Programme highlight is a sunrise ceremony beside the Niagara river with a Native elder followed by a hike in the Niagara Glen."
#2. "Following the Grape From Vine To Table: A Wine Lover's Journey A programme of grape and wine education and appreciation. During this wine lover's journey, explore the Niagara Escarpment with a geologist to learn how nature has shaped Niagara's wineries. Attend lectures and workshops held in picturesque vineyards and wineries where you will learn from wine educators, writers, scientists and wine makers how to "grow wine", make wine, discern faulty and quality wines and even how to pair food and wine. End the week with the ultimate conclusion to your journey, a meal prepared by you under the tutelage of a Chef Instructor and Sommelier. Enjoy a hands-on apprenticeship in cooking with wine and the fine art of preparing your table for guests."
#3. "Memories Made in Niagara Combining interactive workshops you learn to document your own families history, your own personal stories. Using storytelling, painting phenomenon Look, See, Paint* workshops and Memory Writing you will come away with the beginning of your own Journal. (*for non-painters with a yen to paint. This no fail outdoor workshop relies on nature as our connective guide. Leave with your own watercolour mementoes and a new life skill.) This programming includes farm hayride & storytelling, nature strolls, and meeting fascinating local folks who will add to your memories of Niagara."
#4. "Winter Wings Over Niagara In 1996 the Niagara River corridor, stretching 58 km from lake Erie to Lake Ontario, became the first site in North America to receive international recognition as a "Globally Significant Important Bird Area." Follow the winter river through Canada and the United States discovering the Buffalo Museum of Science and the passionate birders on both sides. With scopes and expert guidance meet the gulls, ducks, geese and swans, considered our most attractive and stunning wildlife. Experts and novices alike will benefit from an itinerary that includes a day trip to the Long Point Bird Observatory, a visit to the tropical Niagara parks butterfly conservatory to warm your toes, field trips, workshops and presentations. Photo opportunities will be countless."
#5. "Niagara's Dessert Wines: Starring Ice Wines of Winter A $15 million a year Canadian icewine business has thrown Niagra's award winning icewines into the spotlight. Join our chefs, winemakers, oenologists and viticulturists for a week of celebrating this liquid gold. Both new and aged wine enthusiasts will enjoy demonstrations, workshops, tours and tasting with our experts. Bring your woollies and who knows, if we are lucky the temperatures will fall to -11 Celsius and at 3am there will come a knock at your door to help with the icewine harvest!"
LOOK, SEE, PAINT In partnership with this company, NNT offers these workshops incorporated into many venues and programmes as appropriate. For non-painters with a yen to paint. This no fail outdoor workshop relies on nature as our connective guide. Leave with your own watercolour mementoes and a new life skill.
#2 "Our Romantic Niagara: Local talents: artists, musicians, storytellers, poets, dancers bring alive the Myths and Magic as well as the history of Old Niagara." Our cooperative of talented local artists are waiting to be included in any of our existing programming.

Treasures from the Woods The Good Earth Cooking School in partnership with Niagara Nature Tours is pleased of offer a special Forager's Class.
"The group will gather at the Good Earth Cooking School to meet Carla Carlson, an accredited forager, and her team from Niagara Nature Tours. After a preliminary lecture, we will head out to the woods to identify and gather edible wildplants. Returning to the School, our Chef will conduct a 3 hour demonstration cooking class using the products gathered during the morning hike."
NNT offers different foraging and edible wildplant classes and field-trips.
Examples are: Edible Plants of the Woods
Poisonous Plants of the Woods
Edible Weeds of Lawns and Gardens
Edible City Plant Walk & Gourmet Meal
Flint Knapping Workshop Learn the ancient Native art and science of making arrow heads and knife points. Take away your very own arrowhead. Beautiful hand made arrow head necklaces made by our Flint Knapper will be available for sale." Class size limited to 12 participants. This event can be held for large groups as a demonstration, inside or outside on a Lake Erie Cobble Beach where we can actually find remnants of arrowhead making. Led by our Flint Knapper and Geologist.
Herbal Cosmetics Workshop A Jordan farmer will lead us in producing a kit of herbal cosmetics to take home. She will teach you how to make herbal soap, a healing salve, soothing hand cream, talc powder and bath salts.
Rib Melon Basket Workshop Participants will learn traditional techniques and complete a rib melon basket out of natural materials.
Calling all Potential Photographers! Our well known nature and portrait photographer will provide a lecture, and interactive methods of photographing people. Take advantage of this historical location with period costumes available, for an afternoon that will produce prized photographs.
Natural Pioneer Dyeing Learn how the pioneers did their dyeing using found materials and garden flowers and take home your own heirloom.
The Art & Science of Plant Pressing For documentation and study, or whimsical pieces of art, learn the fine science of how to press plants, while learning the proper methods of collection. Hike the local Jordan Valley trail to learn about the plants we will use.
Wildplant Folklore - Wile away the afternoon with a Niagara Nature Tour's botany enthusiast, strolling the creek side trail accompanied by the ephemeral strains of Vox Violin's flute, fiddle and guitar. Back at the winery enjoy an exotic Spice of Life vegetarian luncheon among the Art & Crafts for sale.
Birds, Birds & Butterflies - Displays and sale of everything you need to make your backyard a bird & butterfly haven. Seed giveaways and handouts. Meet our Niagara Nature Tour experts for birding presentations and walks. Build yourself a birdhouse workshop.
Nature Photography Workshop - Spend the afternoon with our expert nature photographer to learn the tricks of the trade in this hand's-on vineyard and woodland fieldtrip. Bring your camera and take home frameable treasures.
Natural History Ramble in the cool leafy glade with local Niagara Nature Tour's naturalists.
The Geological World of the Creek Valley and vineyard will be explored with our Niagara Nature Tour's Geologist, expert in why we grow the wine we do here on this ancient lake plain.
Birds the Word Learn the art of pishing - calling songbirds - and follow our birding expert into the woods. Family fun and adventure. Learn about this fastest growing sport in the world!
Splish-Splash Wildflower Creek Adventure Hike along the vineyard to the Creek and discover the plants and ferns up the rugged Escarpment to the Bruce Trail and the mysterious pool.
Nature's Herbal Teas - Workshop & Tastings and Wild Herb Identification Walk.. Complimentary tea and recipes provided during our interactive workshop. Meet our herb experts and investigate displays of natural health care, bare foot sandals and beauty products, herbal jellies and wares for sale.
Woodsong, Rocks and Wine Celtic minstrels forest folklore enchantment. Join naturalist Carla Carlson for a magical natural history tour along the trail of the moss covered rocks, accompanied by Celtic minstrels.
Botany, Geology Hike & Estate Wine & Spirit Tour We'll follow along a winding trail through this beautiful hardwood escarpment forest that has spectacular views overlooking Grimsby. This sweeping view of escarpment forest should be breath-taking if Jack Frost has cooperated! We will learn about the settlement of the area, about the famous Grimsby red sandstone quarry, the mill and the natural history of the area. Your guide will explain about the formation of the Niagara Escarpment and Forty Mile Creek, along with information about the plant life we pass, including Witch Hazel! Our hike will e about 1 ˝ hours and then we will head over to the winery for a tour and tasting including hors d'oeuvres.
The Myths & Magic of Cave Springs Conservation Area, Tour Cave Springs Cellars and Dine at On The Twenty Restaurant Meet Margaret, the "Witch of Cave Springs" who has protected this unique Carolinian Escarpment property for decades. Learn about Carolinian Canada and its unique tress, such as the Sassafrass, from which the flavour of rootbeer is derived! This Escarpment ‘bench' is also famous for its vineyards and the cottage wine industry that has sprung up in Lincoln in the last few years. The geology of the area and the history of the Neutral Indian encampment will be touched upon. After our hike which includes a visit to the ice cave, the spring and the ‘Spy Hole' , enjoy a private wine tour and tasting at Cave Spring Cellars.
Wildflowers, Rocks & Wine an experienced local naturalist will lead us along beautiful woodland trails on the Beamsville Bench nearby a local winery. If the gods are with us the sun will be shining, the waterfalls tumbling and wildflowers nodding along our path. A little bit of geology thrown in will delight you with sightings of miniature stalactites, (but no cave!), and other interesting offerings by Mother Nature, usually unnoticed by laypersons.
Owl Prowls In the past we have seen between 5 to 6 species during our owl prowls in the Niagara Peninsula. With easy viewing from the edge of the road we will be privileged to see the owls flying low right over our heads. For some sightings we will walk into beautiful pineries to look for the shyer of the species.
Frog Foray Five different species of frogs and toads will be calling to you on this relaxing spring evening outing. We will travel hither and yon exploring Niagara's wetlands from the comparative dryness of the lanes and byways.
Annual Spring Hawk Migration Grimsby is the local site for the North American Hawk Migration in the spring. As a member of the local Hawk Watch Association we offer wonderful insights to this flythrough, leaders helping the participants with displays, charts, handouts and telescopes.
Botanical/Private Garden/Vegetable, Herb & Ornamental Greenhouse and Farm Tours & Workshops Join our provincial and local experts in walk-abouts and hands-on-workshops that celebrate the joys and science of growing! Horticulturists/ Growers/ Farmers/ Gardeners.
Full Moon Hayride, Campfire or Barn Dinner & Storytelling This event runs rain or shine, winter-summer. Wheel Chair accessible.
If you need a team building theme:
Woodland Hayride & Storytelling/Motivational Team Building using the Teachings of Our Ancestors and the Brian Tracy, Phoenix Seminar concepts. A farm in a hamlet near Vineland, a hayride into the forest with a team of Belgian work horses, a campfire dinner and a storytelling woodsman. Fire by friction demonstration as a teaching vehicle to promote teamwork. Glimpse the art & science of flint knapping - Native arrow-heads. Niagara Nature Tour's storyteller and woodsman, is described as a facilitator, entertainer and artificer. Bigger than life with a heart to match, meet Joe, for a stimulating afternoon of wisdom and merriment.
Winter version: with sleigh or wagon depending the snow conditions: Sleigh bells ringing as we travel the fields over the moonlighted snow fields into the forest. Back at the barn we will gather in a cozy cabin for dinner. Taped or live Celtic music accompanies the meal. After dinner we will cuddle into the hay mow with buffalo blankets, the lights will dim and the storyteller will appear with her lantern. With stories gleaned from different cultures around the world, this evening will be fun for both children and adults.
Summer version: After our ride through the fields, the horses pull into a clearing in the forest and we see a long gingham covered table laden with our food. Everyone joings in and cooks their own food, helping themselves. (Meal can be catered.) After dinner the lanterns are turned down and a storyteller glides from the shadows into the campfire light and spins tales.
Storytellers to choose from:
Joe the Woodsman: A Native American story about how coyote brought fire to the animals. Ends with a fire by friction demonstration. He can bring either a real teepee or a long house depending upon the weather.
Glenna with stories about the moon gleaned from different cultures around the world. Can offer spooky moon/ folk tales around Halloween.
Brenda with tales of King Arthur and the Round Table, Native stories and she comes with and plays a guitar.

Ecotours along the Niagara Parkway

All Ecotours can be re-arranged with any Niagara Parks attraction and customized to suit your itinerary, and can be delivered on board your coach by an expert step-on-guide, or delivered as a walking tour. Our guides can meet & greet the buses at the hotel and deliver interesting insights as the group travels along the Parkway to each destination. All of our bus tours along the Niagara Parkway include, (assuming they are near this site): Seeing the exact spot where Niagara Falls started on it's long journey, 12,5000 years ago, and tracing its path along the Niagara Parkway, to its present day location. Trace the journey of the Falls in one hour, instead of 12,500 years! The Niagara River was designated "An Important Bird Area" recently. This world famous destination draws birders from all over the world every November to March to see the thousands of gulls (19 species), ducks and waterfowl that overwinter every year. Niagara Nature Tours with an American partner hosts an annual not for profit International Gull Festival the first week of December. All of this natural history Niagara River information will be imparted during all of our tours. Our bird experts are available with guide books, reference material, binoculars and telescopes. The following is a synopsis of NNT's vision of our presentations and programming to our guests, regarding their Niagara Falls experience. Having grown up in this area most of us have watched the evolution of the Niagara Falls area into one of commercial modern glitz and congestion. Most travelers we meet don't like it any more than we do. NNT works very hard and with great passion to showcase the spirit and natural beauty of Niagara Falls by knowing where to look and how to present the programming.
#1. "Niagara Glen Nature Reserve ANSI (Area of Natural, Scientific Interest) & Carolinian Canada For people that can not hike or are in wheelchairs, view the spectacular Niagara Glen Carolinian Forest below, and the distant Whirlpool. From this vantage point at Wintergreen Flats learn about the native plants and Native American folklore about edible, medicinal plants; the geology of the site which is laid out in rock striations on the opposite American side in plain view and of the early tourism and exploration at this site. For those that can hike, an adventure awaits in this wild land of tumbled giant boulders and wild growth reminiscent of prehistoric times."
We supply a ratio of 1 guide per 10 - 12 people. This way everyone can see and hear and are safe along these dangerous narrow woodland river edge trails - as well, more people per guide and people at the end of the line can't hear or see. This hike considered moderate to difficult requiring only running shoes, or shoes with good grip. This can be conducted as leisurely walk for young or old, (we've conducted many seniors), or a strenuous adventure exercise hike.
#2. "The Geological History of the Falls & Niagara River Made Easy! Journey Behind The Falls, Greenhouse and Old Scow Join our Geologist for a personal discovery of the Falls area. Discover ancient fossils that even the locals don't know about, and learn the Native American history of the area."
#3. "Butterfly Conservatory, Tall Grass Prairie and Botanical Gardens Learn about the Prairie Oak Savannah and Tall Grass Prairie, (just like in Canada's Prairie provinces!) that was here before the pioneers cleared the land for farming.
Our guides are naturalists, horticulturists and have worked in entomology (the study of insects), so our personally escorted tours are very insightful and come from personal experiences. Our ratio of guests to guides are very low so that everyone can see and hear and have hands-on experiences by touching and smelling in the gardens. With large groups people don't have these experiential opportunities.
#4. "Dufferin Islands, The Site of Niagara's First Tourist Attraction A leisurely stroll will take you along the banks of this manmade embayment, passing through a soothing marshland setting, complete with waterfowl, wildflowers, spice bushes and even a sapsucker tree! A stark contrast to its status in the 1700 and 1800's as an industrial site." Some of our guides who belong to the local field naturalist clubs, were instrumental in getting the NPC to plant native wildflowers in this site and several others along the parkway - and were consultants for them as well about the process.
#5. "Bridges and Tunnels and Hydro, Oh My! Accompanied by a local historian learn about the early industrial development of Niagara Falls." This can be presented either through just a bus tour, or include a slide presentation & seminar.
#6. "Our Niagara Escarpment, ‘UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve';The Bruce Trail & Queenston Heights (This tour can include Brock's Monument and stories of the War of 1812 which saw Canada win against the invading Americans. Also Fort George in Niagara on the Lake.) The Bruce Trail is the oldest and longest marked hiking trail in Canada. It is 782 km. long, with over 290 km. of associated side trails. The Bruce Trail begins at the stone cairn in Queenston Heights Park. The Niagara Escarpment, along which the Bruce Trail runs, was proclaimed a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations in 1990. There are only six such reserves in all of Canada.
Bruce Trail historical/geological/natural history walk or hike to remnant foundation of old settlement, lime-kilns, caves, quarry and sightings of native plants, Carolinian trees, and a spectacular view overlooking NOTL farmland, the Niagara River and out to Lake Ontario and Toronto.
This tour is partially wheelchair accessible and is also used for adventure/exercise hiking as it turns into a very rigorous trail. We also use it for cross-country skiing in the winter.
#7. "Back from the Brink, Nesting on the Brink! Raptors Along the Parkway Special programming that can include live birds of prey demonstrations. (Owls, hawks, falconry programme). Recovery and Return of Endangered Species." Local naturalists will share our experiences with the return and nesting situations of the Bald Eagle and the Peregrine Falcon. Can include nature artists/workshops, not-for-profit bird of prey & bird association workshops/demonstrations/exhibits. All of these can include live birds, slideshows and speakers.
#8. "Niagara Falls Through the Centuries This Victorian perspective speaks to the stories of the rich, famous, (movie stars and royalty), eccentric, and the dare- devils who came to visit and some to live and even die at Niagara Falls. Poetry, lectures, slideshows and tours. Add the Maid of the Mist steamboat ride for a complete experience."

If clients are interested in expanded knowledge of any of our tours, they can be escorted by research scientists, professors and experts in their particular field of interest.

Niagara Nature Tours is following the principles and guidelines of ecotourism as much as possible in this urban part of the world! To that end we contribute a percentage of our profits towards local conservation efforts. Environmental ethics and conservation guidelines are followed to help prevent deterioration of the local environments. All our guides are local naturalists who care about the Niagara Peninsula and want to see its nature areas protected.
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