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Niagara Glen is the largest developed bouldering area in Southern Ontario. While it's just a few miles from the touristy chaos that is Niagara Falls, it's a world apart. Hundreds of boulders lie clustered between the cliff and river in a serene setting. With over seven hundred established problems, ranging from easy to V ridiculously hard, the Glen will have you coming back again and again.
The Glen offers a mix of pocketed overhangs, thin crimpy faces and slopey sandstone. The rock quality and landings vary greatly throughout. The area has been climbed for decades and unfortunately the dolomite polishes easily, so many of the classics will feel nearly frictionless. If you are willing to step off the beaten path, fresh rock and rarely climbed problems await.
The Glen is administered by the Niagara Parks Commission and climbers are represented by the Ontario Access Coalition.
Bouldering currently requires an annual permit ($20 per year as of 2012), which is available at the Niagara Glen Nature Centre (3050 Niagara Parkway). Note that some boulders and areas are currently closed. When you get your permit you will receive a map showing these.
Please practice common bouldering ethics and especially pay attention to your impact on vegetation in the Glen. Don't go tramping all over the place when you can use the established trails, and do not top out boulders that are heavily vegetated on top.
Spring and Fall offer the best conditions. Summer is usually good and, unlike other destinations nearby, bugs are rarely a problem. If the Winter is mild enough it's not unheard of to see the odd boulderer out and about.
From the QEW heading east to Niagara Falls, take exit 37 onto King's Hwy 405. After 5.1km (3.1mi) take the Stanley Ave exit and turn right. Follow Stanley Ave for 1.2km (0.8mi) and turn left onto Whirlpool Rd. After 1.3km (0.8mi) turn left onto the Niagara Parkway. The parking lot for the Glen will be on your right after 1.8km (1.1mi).
From the United States, take I-190 west to Canada, entering Ontario via the Lewiston-Queenston bridge. Continue west on King's Hwy 405 for 2.5mi (3.9km) and take the exit for Stanley Ave. Turn right onto Towline Rd and then right again onto Stanley Ave. Follow the directions above from Stanley Ave.
From the parking lot follow the main trail through the park to the metal staircase. At the bottom continue straight off the stairs north to get to Central, Wonderland, Bizzaro World, and The Old Country. For Romper Room, Land of Oz and Waterworld turn around and head south.
No camping is permitted in the park or parking lot. As this area is a tourist haven there isn't much in the way of cheap accommodations. The nearest campground is Shalamar Lake Campground (www.shalamarlake.com, 905-262-4895), which is located 6.5km (4mi) north of the Glen on the Niagara Parkway. It's open from May 1st to October 15th and sites start at $32.00 per night.
There are a few other campgrounds (KOA, Campark Resorts, Scott's Trailer Park and Campground) located on Lundy's Lane approximately 2km (1.2mi) west of the QEW. Plenty of motels can also be found as you make your way to Niagara Falls.
There are no conveniently located restaurants, but the gift shop sells cold drinks and snacks in the summer. The short drive to Niagara Falls will give you plenty of options.
Ten thousand years ago, as the glaciers retreated and the ice melted, the Great Lakes emptied into the Niagara River, which flowed over the Niagara Escarpment and created Niagara Falls. Initially, the falls were located at Lewiston, New York. Over time the river cut a gorge through layers of dolomite, limestone, shale and sandstone bedrock and the falls gradually retreated 11 km upstream to their present location. Approximately 6500 years ago, the falls were located at what is the now Niagara Glen. Here the river quickly eroded the layers of limestone and shale, leaving dolomite overhangs, which eventually trundled from the escarpment to provide the boulders that now cover the floor of the glen. Close to the river a length of short sandstone cliff occurs where the Niagara River cut through the sandstone bedrock.
Niagara Falls and all its tacky delights are located just down the road. Should the weather be unfavorable you can always try your luck at the casino. The Botanical Gardens and Butterfly Conservatory are also both nearby.