Exploring Ontario's Bruce Peninsula

The Central Peninsula
  |  Gorp.com

Just north of Wiarton—a great stop for a whitefish dinner—rejoin the wilds at Spirit Rock Conservation Area, on Colpoy's Bay. Spring flowers show their beauty around the ruins of The Corran, a nineteenth-century manor home. A spiral staircase leads down the escarpment to the rounded rock beaches of the lakeshore.

Follow the Forty Hills Road (Concession Road 9) north through wetlands, farms, and woods. Watch for the turnoff into the Cape Croker First Nation, where you can walk 8 km (5 mi) in the footsteps of the Ojibwa along the Cape Croker Loop Trail. According to Ontario writer Shirley Teasdale, this is one of the most dramatic hikes in the Bruce Peninsula."With its long, sweeping vistas of water, land and sky, it has doubtless been a place for communing with the natural forces and spirits that control these elements of the earth."

At Hope Bay, scramble over mossy rocks and slip through fern-edged crevices at Grieg's Caves, a pleasant commercial attraction on the water's edge. Water and ice meeting rock accounts for much of the mystery of the Bruce Peninsula, forming sea stacks, caves, sinkholes, and potholes. No other place in Ontario boasts as many deep potholes as Lion's Head, where the whirlpool-like action of pebbles and stones drilled giant smooth-walled cylindrical holes under receding glaciers. To check out the potholes, visit Hope Bay Forest Provincial Nature Reserve for an 11.4 km (7.1 mi) loop hike along the Bruce Trail and the Jack Poste Side Trail, meandering through dense forests of birch and maple.

Two trails ramble along the next promontory on the coastline, Cape Chin, where the Cape Chin North Road guides you to both trailheads. At Smokey Head Access Point Nature Reserve, enjoy an easy out-and-back walk of up to 16 km (10 mi), strolling through rolling countryside and wetlands busy with beaver activity. From Devil's Monument Access Point, hike 2 km (1.2 mi) along a natural rock ridge to see the Devil's Monument, a sea stack (or flowerpot formation) formed as the ancient glacial lake receded. The monument hangs from a dizzying height off the escarpment.

All along the edge of Georgian Bay, the Bruce Trail touches, crosses, and joins these trails as it continues its journey northward. At Dyer's Bay, the trail sticks to the escarpment, passing the ruins of slides once used by the logging companies to dump logs down to the lake. Picturesque stone beaches define the shoreline, looking like a collection of sun-bleached dinosaur eggs. Loons bathe in the cool, clear waters.


Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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