Heartland Forest in Niagara Falls, Ontario is a true oasis of natural beauty and serenity. Spanning over 200 acres, this nature preserve is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including the Carolinian Forest, one of the largest remaining ecosystems of its kind. This area is also a vital sanctuary for many species at risk.

It was first established in 1999 by Dan Bouwman, who had a vision of creating a peaceful and accessible natural destination for all to enjoy. The idea for the forest was inspired by his granddaughter, Sydney, who was born with Lissencephaly, a rare brain disorder. Dan wanted to create a place where Sydney could experience the healing power of nature, so he bought the land to save it from industrial development.

The Forest opened to the public in 2004 and has since grown to include a number of accessible features such as wheelchair-friendly trails, beautiful sculptures, a picnic pavilion, one of the largest treehouses in Canada, a mini-putt, and a fully accessible 14,000 square foot nature center. These features are free for all to use, and donation boxes can be found throughout the property to support the upkeep and development of the Heartland Forest.

This Forest is a true environmental playground, offering visitors the opportunity to disconnect from the everyday and reconnect with nature. The five trails in the forest range in length from just over 100 meters to just under a kilometer, making it a great destination for families with young children to expose them to the wonders of nature. The Heartland Forest map gives you an idea of how the park is laid out, but I recommend following the outskirts of the park in a counter-clockwise direction. This way you will pass by the information booth and follow the Pin Oak Trail, which offers beautiful views of the forest and allows you to breathe in the fresh air.

The natural beauty, serenity, and accessibility of this nature preserve make it a perfect spot to recharge and be inspired to protect the nature that surrounds us.