Beyond the Treeline

The beauty of Niagara Falls is you can be standing on the precipice of a world-famous waterfall with hundreds of people, and as you gaze into the majesty of the falling water, it’s possible to forget you are surrounded by crowds, even if it’s just for a moment. There is a way to explore Niagara and be the only person standing on the edge of a waterfall. Owen Bjorgan is a biologist, local adventurer and professional hiker and is the man to take you beyond the treeline. After years of exploring Niagara’s back woods on his own, Bjorgan now takes visitors to places few locals have seen. “I started realizing a few years ago with both locals and tourists alike, that many people were not aware of the natural significance but also the natural spots that are available to explore in Niagara,” he says. The Niagara Escarpment is a UNESCO listed area partly because of its outstanding natural features. It runs from Queenston in Niagara all the way up to Tobermory and provides the backdrop for a beautiful hike. “The Escarpment acts as an incredible habitat corridor, lots of unique and specialized habitats are found because we have that escarpment feature,” says Bjorgan as he points to the elevated treeline. The peace and the private experience of enjoying the best of the region’s natural environment without the tourist traffic zones is what Bjogan offers with tremendous enthusiasm. “It’s all about putting Niagara on the map in a different way,” he explains excitedly. “All of a sudden, I take you to a place where you don’t hear the traffic, the people. Instead of Niagara Falls, which may have 5000 people looking at it at any moment, we’re the only five people looking, and you can hear deep forest species of birds calling out at the same time, and there’s a certain peace that washes over people, and amazement when they can get an entire waterfall to Biophilic World Hiking Tours 289-407-5537 | www.bwhikes.com | bwhikes@gmail.com Price: Tours run $25-45 per person depending on the type of tour. Can accommodate a single hiker or small groups (up to 12 people). Check out his documentary film called Hidden Corners Niagara to get an idea of what you may encounter on one of his hikes: youtube.com/watch?v=qCrWCnVR5SU themselves. That’s the kind of thing that can happen on my tours.” Biophilic World Hiking Tours (bwhikes.com) are suitable for people of all hiking levels and Bjorgan is dedicated to modifying the tour to suit his hikers’ needs. “To be biophilic, is the concept that means to be part of nature not apart from it,” says Bjorgan. “It’s the concept that we are all innately connected to nature and in our busy modern world we sometimes forget that. It’s time to be biophilic again.” A typical tour runs between 1.5 hours to a full day, with multiple spots to explore depending on your hiking level and interest. There are many entry points, but most are located within 20 minutes of Niagara Falls. Wide sweeping scenic vistas, lush forest and possibly a white-tailed deer or ermine if you happen to be in the right place at the right time. If you’re eager to explore a wetland ecosystem which is over 12,000 years old but you forgot your rubber boots, Bjorgan has a pair for you. “We go into swamp forest areas, we put on rubber boots, and for some adults they haven’t done that since they were a kid so it adds a sense of adventure as you are checking out ancient wetlands. I think the type of scenery and habitat really surprises people and they get fired up about that.” Beyond getting a true breath of fresh air from Biophilic World Hiking Tours, Bjorgan also hopes the people who join him on his tours walk away with a sense of place in the natural world. “My interest and concern is the big picture, says Bjorgan. “How does nature work as a larger unit, how does it all string together? What is our human place in the natural world in modern and changing times? Awareness starts perhaps with coming on a tour with me, and it could be the first time looking at nature in Niagara from a different perspective. That’s what I like to focus on during my tours.” TM

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