Bruce Peninsula is home to Canada’s version of the “Great Wall”—7 KM of caves and bluffs that are a World Biosphere Reserve since they are a part of the Niagara Escarpment. This is not your average national park and that’s why it is such a popular camping and hiking destination. I don’t think Rob and I have ever come into contact with so many people hiking the trails as during our visit to the Bruce Peninsula . Of course, we understand why—no where else in Canada have we seen water so tropically blue that you can see rock-bottom and enjoy rocky cliffs so chunky and accessible that you can scale them without equipment. That being said, it’s wise not to push yourself beyond your limits or to let your excitement get the best of you, it’s a long way down to the water when you’re on top of those cliffs!
Though we spent some time at the Alvar Bay campground (see Travel Log #1) before heading over to the National Park, we did call the park home for a couple of nights. There are plenty of sites to choose from in the park both in front and backcountry. The sites and services are pretty basic but provide for easy access to the trails. During the information-laden spiel that park rangers give you when
you register, I could swear that every second word was “bear”—which left us completely paranoid about how we were storing our equipment and food. Of course, using common sense and by keeping all food locked in your car at all times will most likely ensure a bear-free stay at the park. Apparently, there is a very significant black bear population due to the size of the park and the lack of roads that run through it.
Though there may be a lack of roads, there is an abundance of trails. Most notably, the Bruce Trail ! This 800 KM long trail runs from Tobermory to Niagara Falls and passes right through the National Park.
Aside from its namesake trail, there are six trails to choose from that provide for different natural surroundings and experiences. For example, we first took the Cyprus Lake trail that gently guided us around the lake and back
Next, we opted for a more challenging route and followed the Bruce Trail along Georgian Bay ’s coastline up and down rocky cliffs. The alcoves along the coast of the park are simply breathtaking. The water is so blue (due the reflection of sunlight off the limestone cliffs I am told) that you really do forget that you are in Ontario —until you decide to go for a swim. At this point, you are jutted back to reality when your body temperature begins to plummet due to the insanely cold water—even in the summertime! Although, like real troopers, we braved the initial shock and took a (albeit quick) dip anyhow.
We stopped in at the Grotto for a long while, admiring this very unique natural phenomenon. You can climb down into the Grotto along the rocky cliff or you can navigate down/up through a very narrow tunnel in the cliff. Either way, it’s best to ensure that you have the proper footwear on before attempting the descent or ascent! We cautiously made our way down into the Grotto. While we were there, a group of scuba divers was preparing for a dive into an underwater passageway that would take them from the depths of the Grotto, under the cliffs, and then out into Georgian Bay . Though I consider myself a very good swimmer, after asking one of the divers how deep and long their underwater tunnel route was (5 meters under and then about 15 meters across and then back up again), I decided that my personal air tanks (a.k.a. my lungs!) couldn’t handle such a trip. Not surprisingly, due to the beautiful underwater rock formations and canyons, we met a lot of scuba groups along the coast. After a very refreshing (alright freezing) dip in the Grotto, we opted to climb up the tunnel (not for the claustrophobic) and head back onto the trails. By the end of our stay we had covered most of the trails in the park, loving every minute! From rocky beach, to mixed-level terrain, the Bruce Peninsula is just gorgeous. By the end of our stay we had covered most of the trails in the park, loving every minute! From rocky beach, to mixed-level terrain, the Bruce Peninsula is just gorgeous.
Kayaking also seems to be a very popular activity in the park. We saw many kayakers in the waters off the park. After speaking with fellow travelers, we’ve come to learn that not all of the waters are for the novice kayaker—be sure to check in with the visitor’s office for specific info about the best places to kayak for your comfort/skill level! Though, the west-end of the park apparently has some good-for-all levels areas.
I don’t think that we could ever tire of this park! The views are so unique and with Flower Pot Island , Fathom Five National Marine Park and Tobermory so close, there is so much to see and do.
We actually have our own BLACK WIDOW spider here in Canada, but only here in the Bruce Peninsula. They often like to live in old abandoned mammal holes, and yes (as their name implies), they do eat their suitor after copulation!
Nancy doesn’t know it yet, but as soon as summer hits again, we are going spider hunting!