The Niagara Escarpment is a crown jewel among precious rocks in Ontario.
A massive forested limestone ridge, it’s perhaps the province’s most prominent geographical feature. The Niagara Escarpment stretches more than 725 km from the Niagara River to Georgian Bay and rises up in places more than half a kilometre above sea level. Burlington’s Mount Nemo can look the observation deck of Toronto’s CN Tower right in the eye.
The entire Escarpment extends 1,100 kilometres from western New York to Niagara Falls, across southern Ontario to the Bruce Peninsula, under the waters of Georgian Bay to Manitoulin Island, and down the western shore of Lake Michigan. The most spectacular sections – those recognized by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve – are found in Ontario.
The Niagara Escarpment we know today is the result of a geological process that began more than 400 million years ago when the limestones, dolostones, 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 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: