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Location Niagara Falls, New York
Access Unsupervised trail in Niagara Gorge and Whirlpool State Park.
Hiking There are two versions of this hike. From the downstream side the hike is long but fairly easy on a good foot trail and stone steps for most of the way. From the upstream side, the hike is difficult on abandoned and unmarked trails. For the latter version, you need a guide or excellent instructions.
Details We started from the upstream end of the gorge at the Niagara Aquarium and hiked down abandoned roads and trails into the gorge under the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge and then dropped down to the edge of the river just north of the bridge. We then worked along the edge until we reached Titan Rock, a huge rock which has fallen from the rim above and forms a wonderful lunch spot right at the most violent part of the rapids. We lunched watching the 20-foot standing waves and feeling the power of the river vibrating through the rock.

After lunch, we progressed downstream and the trail gradually improved (and had more hikers) as we approached the whirlpool. Downstream from the Whirlpool, the trail is quite well traveled and after about 1/2 mile comes to a long stone stairway (built by the CCC during the Great Depression) to the rim. We then returned to the Aquarium on city streets. (On subsequent visits we have either hiked in from the lower end, or used two cars. We have also scrambled up the cliff on some cables just at the beginning of the Whirlpool. And for another variation, we have hiked downstream from the Whirlpool State Park steps to the power plants to see the smaller -- but still very impressive -- Devil's Hole rapids below the Whirlpool.)

This is a great hike if you want to see a part of Niagara Falls which missed by the tourists, and if you want to really see and feel the awesome power of lots of moving water. What you see from Titan Rock is all of the water that goes over the American and Canadian Falls combined in a channel which is half the width of the American Falls alone. The water literally cannot get out of its own way and simply piles up forming the huge standing waves.