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Whether you are looking for an elegant wine and culinary party, to a private winery tour, farm or nature adventure, Carla Carlson, Owner of Niagara Nature Tours can help you plan out customized guided tours in the Niagara Region.

Carla is well known to Niagara Region as a local naturalist, environmentalist and past president of the Peninsula Field Naturalist Club.

guided tours niagara
Carla (Photo: Lindo Photography)

She works with a team of specialists including Natives, Wine Aficionados, Naturalists, Horticulturalists, Storytellers and Geologists to offer customized hikes, walks and guiding experiences in the Niagara Region.

In this write-up, I’ll touch upon highlights from Ecotour Magazine’s guided tour stops with Carla: The Mile Creek Side Trail & Gibson House, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area & Lookout Trail, and Forks Road Pottery & the historical Grimsby Train Depot.

Stop # 1 Forty Mile Creek Side Trail & Gibson House

Ben, Yegana, and I started our guided tour in downtown Grimsby, where Carla took us to visit the Forty Mile Creek Side Trail.

guided tours niagara
Forty Mile Creek (Photo: Lindo Photography)

This trail consists of approximately 1.7 km of path, and is a popular place for walkers, joggers and cyclists. It connects to the Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, in as little as a 20-minute walk to Beamer Falls, the Bruce Trail and other side trails. Forty Mile Creek is filled with valleys and ridges of Red Oak and Sugar Maple trees.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Our first guided tour site visit was the Gibson House, an Ontario Heritage site that was built circa 1862 by Robert Lillie Gibson.

guided tours niagara
Gibson House (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Robert and his men were stonemasons from Scotland, and had contracts with the Great Western Railroad for bridges as far as Sarnia to Rimouski. He helped style many site developments along the Escarpment, and therefore the Gibson House holds significance in defining the pink Grimsby stone architecture of that early era.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)
guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Stop # 2 Beamer Memorial Conservation Area & Lookout Trail 

Our next guided tour stop was the Beamer Memorial Conservation Area. BMCA is a site that was acquired by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority in 1964, to protect and preserve the Niagara Escarpment and the Forty-Mile Creek valley system.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Designated as an Internationally Important Bird Area (IBA), it is recognized as the best site in the Peninsula to observe the annual hawk migration with events such as the 20 years strong Raptorfest in May, a family-friendly event that promotes public education about Raptors and other wildlife.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

After discussing the many birding opportunities available at BMCA, we then walked another 25-minutes to reach a Lookout Trail of 920m, where we were about to find a rewarding panoramic view overlooking the Canadian Carolinian forest.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Along the route, we came across multiple trees that lay sideways, having fallen from old age, rain storms or heavy winds.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

The Carolinian forest is an area of natural and scientific interest, as well as part of the Niagara Escarpment International Biosphere Reserve.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

It’s mutually protected by over a hundred private landowners through voluntary stewardship, in partnership with a wide range of conservation groups and agencies. Talk about the power of numbers and making a change to promote environmental protection!

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Along the route to the lookout, Carla helped us identify ancient-forest flora and fauna, using a handy guidebook she packed for our walk.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Mission accomplished! We made it to the lookout point that overlooked the forested area surrounding Grimsby. Carla brought along binoculars to look for birds and other wildlife, while the rest of us enjoyed the panoramic views and each other’s company.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)
guided tours niagara
Ben, Yegana, Debra (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Stop #3 Forks Road Pottery in the Historical Grimsby Train Depot

As our final guided tour stop, we visited Marsha Cox, Owner and Potter of Forks Road Pottery, with operations based in Grimsby’s Great Western Railway Station.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Marsha abandoned her professional medical field of radiography to follow her heart in studying ceramics at Sheridan College in Oakville, which led her to move to England to continue her pottery training in 1973. After years of studying and practicing pottery at the West Surrey College of Art, she opened the Forks Road Pottery in 1978.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Marsha explained that she creates a variety of projects, with a following of customers who keep coming back for her high fired, pure porcelain pottery, that’s also oven-cooking friendly.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Meandering around the shop, we saw a variety of hand-painted products, inspired by world pottery traditions from France, the Netherlands, England, and Germany. The space was  filled with antiques, from wall-to-wall, from old typewriters, to artsy odds and ends.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)
guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Reflections                                                                                             

Carla put a lot of thought into providing our team with an overview of Grimsby’s history, nature, and local art. Whether you’re into rocks, plants, wildlife, art, First Nations history, or wine tasting what’s awesome is that Carla can create a nature tour that suits you and your interests! High recommendations.

Stay tuned for our article on Bonnybank Bed & Breakfast, Carla’s Bed & Breakfast, and if you are looking for vegan food near Niagara, check out our article on Rise Above


About Niagara Nature Tours

Niagara Nature Tours offers consulting services, speakers, programming, workshops, slides shows, presentations, step-on guiding services, tours, hikes and walks – from one hour to one week or longer, showcasing Niagara’s natural beauty!

For more information, or to plan your Niagara Nature Tour this summer, visit https://www.niagaranaturetours.ca/


About Ecotour Magazine

Ecotour Magazine promotes the emerging Canadian Ecotourism industry to a global audience by highlighting uniquely Canadian destinations, products, and services.

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Debra Weinryb
As Editor-in-Chief of Ecotour Magazine, Debra is excited to bring her over 7 years of experience in communications, content creation, and journalism, to help share Canadian Ecotourism stories with you. Debra has a Degree in Environment from the University of Toronto, a Graduate Certificate in Corporate Communications from Seneca College, and most recently studied Travel Writing at George Brown College. She was born and raised in Toronto, Canada.