About the Escarpment

The Niagara Escarpment in Ontario stretches almost 900 km from the Niagara River to Tobermory and Manitoulin Island. It and rises up in places more than half a kilometre above sea level. The entire Escarpment extends from western New York across southern Ontario to the Bruce Peninsula, under the waters of Georgian Bay to Manitoulin Island, and south along the western shore of Lake Michigan. The most spectacular sections – those recognized by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve – are covered by the Niagara Escarpment Plan (from Niagara Region to Bruce County.

The Niagara Escarpment we know today is the result of geological processes that began more than 400 million years ago when the limestones, dolostones, shales, and sandstones of the Escarpment’s bedrock were formed. In geological terms, a cuesta or escarpment is a ridge composed of gently tipped rock strata with a long, gradual slope on one side and a relatively steep scarp or cliff on the other. The present appearance of the Niagara Escarpment is the result of erosion that’s occurred over the past 250 million years. With incredible rock cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls, underwater caves, and 1,000-year-old Eastern White Cedar trees, the Escarpment tells a fascinating story of the natural history of Ontario – a story that needs to be told for generations to come.

Protecting the magnificent Niagara Escarpment means protecting its unique and fascinating characteristics, including that it:

  • Is the longest continuous natural corridor in densely populated south-central Ontario.
  • Boasts spectacular scenery – Niagara Falls and 60 other remarkable waterfalls, sheer cliffs, and fabulous vistas.
  • Offers unparalleled hiking experiences along the Bruce Trail.
  • Supports a vibrant agricultural sector, including vineyards, orchards, cash crops and livestock.
  • Is home to ancient Eastern White Cedars, the oldest trees in eastern North America.
  • Harbours the headwaters of five major river systems.
  • Tells an amazing story of more than 10,000 years of human history, beginning with the indigenous peoples.