Sunday, May 10, 2009

Whirlpool State Park and a Trip to the Canadian Side

For the next two days it rained at night and cleared off during the day so we were able to explore more of the Niagara Gorge. The first day was spent at Whirlpool State Park and the next day involved crossing the border into Canada.
We packed a lunch and drove up the parkway until we arrived at Whirlpool State Park. The park gets its name from the huge bend in the river where the river tries to cut its way into an old gorge. The river spirals counterclockwise, trapping debris and then plunges under the swirl exiting downriver.
There are numerous ways to see this. One way is to take a helicopter flight over the area, Another option is to ride the Canadian Aerial trolley, or you can even ride a jet boat up the gorge and into the whirlpool. We took a different option and hiked down into the gorge!
A trail has been built that involves lots of rock stairs,(I counted 380 steps up), and connects to other places in the gorge. As we headed down we were both nervous about the difficulty, but it was really pretty easy and fun, kind of like stair step exercising equipment!
As we reached the bottom we turned upstream and were greeted by a family of geese, the male was really angry and hissed his displeasure. Muddy in places the trail also involved crossing some rock fall areas. What was really weird was that the river actually was flowing upstream along the trail, as a strong backwash was circulating from the whirlpool rapids. It was actually somewhat scary as the thought of falling into such fast and cold water was an unpleasant thought. However the trail stayed away from the waters edge and signs frequently warned of the danger,(Hmm they must lose some tourists).
There were actually picnic tables along the trail and the hike was fun! Arriving at the whirlpool we watched as the aerial trolley carried people across the whirlpool. Renita waved and waved and finally she got a response. The Canadian side was full of fisherman but we couldn't see any stringers. It was well worth the effort.
The next day we were still sore from the climb out of the gorge but Canada beckoned.
Now the Canadian side of the falls gives you a better view and is heavily developed.
Crossing Rainbow bridge,(we walked), you are first greeted by customs, before being somewhat overwhelmed by all the touristy buildings. A Hard Rock Cafe sign and Casino buildings detract from the beauty of the area. The walk along the falls is beautiful and the flower arrangements are special but.........yeah we actually liked the US side better,(On the US side Niagara Falls State Park is a really nice walk,( I really hate to go places and see the same chain restaurants and casinos don't thrill me at all, give me a hissing goose!)
Now don't get me wrong, the Canadian side was well worth visiting and the view of the falls is so much better. So a trip to that side is pretty mandatory and the day was well spent. However, I enjoyed the hike into the Whirlpool as much as anything we did. Clear skies.

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