Bruce Trail and Hiking

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You can spend your time on Bruce Peninsula in many ways. You can shop, swim, go boating. You can enjoy our com- munities, roads, facilities. These are all good experiences. But if you want to get down to the roots, then you will seek out some encounter with Nature.

Nature is a complex and resilient phenomenon, and the Peninsula is particularly a place to appreciate its resiliency. Be- cause while we offer Nature amble opportunity to strut her stuff, she has not been left alone to do that in her own way, not for many years.

 

Let us take for an example a particular piece of forest in the central peninsula. It is a healthy, diverse, vibrant natural ecosystem. You can walk in it with pleasure all day, observing and enjoying the abundant flora and fauna, or simply absorb- ing the atmosphere of the place.

And yet, if you look carefully among the thick undergrowth, you will see massive stumps scarred by fire, and you will realize that this land was once heavily timbered, then logged, then seriously burned. And if you observe more closely and ask around, you will find out that the fire was caused by settlement, and fed to extraordinary heat by the slash left by loggers. It was stripped and burned right down to the rock.

Then it was left alone, because there was nothing more to remove, and nature took it back. That is an amazing story that you can read in the woods, along the roadsides, on the trails, in the many places where Peninsula Nature offers you a view into her soul. 

Exploring by Foot

When you walk on the stone of the Bruce Peninsula, you walk on the bottom of an ancient sea.
 

Even at its most elevated places, where heights of the Niagara Escarpment treat you to a view far across Georgian Bay, you may feel the presence of creatures who, four hundred million years ago, laid their bones and shells upon the rock for the benefit of your exploring feet. Much has happened since, of course, to vary the terrain.
 

The base for the trail is a gift of nature. The trail itself is due to the volunteers and organizers of the Bruce Trail Conservancy. On the Peninsula, the Bruce Trail begins at the cairn in Tobermory and follows the Escarpment through cedar and hardwood forests, along the rocky shoreline of Georgian Bay, over juniper covered alvars, by wetlands and fields over 165 km to Wiarton, then around to Big Bay, Kemble Mountain, and on to Owen Sound. Along the way there are also over 85 km of side trails to explore.
 

The hardwood forest floor springs to life in April and peaks in early May with a wonderful profusion of wildflowers. Many of the Peninsula’s renowned orchids are found by the trail. You may be chilled and thrilled by a chance viewing of a shy rattler, a black bear or a bald eagle. Birding, flower viewing and looking for mushrooms, fossils or old growth cedars are all part of the Bruce Trail experience. Hikers tell us of their wonder at the cliffs, the colour of the water, the quiet, and the wonderful rich smells of nature in the woods. Hiking on the trail is free; we only ask you to stay on the trail and treat the land with respect. 

Go For A Hike!

1) Bruce Peninsula National Park. A network of trails brings you to the famous “Grotto” sea arch formation, a great place to visit in all seasons.
 

2) “Devil’s Monument” flowerpot found south of Dyer’s Bay is one of the Trail’s most popular spots.
 

3) Just north of both Wiarton and Lion’s Head are caves worth explor- ing. Along the entire Peninsula route, the sculpturing of limestone by ice, water, chemistry and time makes for an endless variety of shapes and impressions.
 

4) At Lion’s Head/Gun Point, the Bruce Trail passes by the world’s greatest concentration of curious geological “potholes.” Theory has it they were formed by runoff water at the end of the ice age. 

To purchase the Bruce Trail maps please visit http://brucetrail.org/pages/trail/maps

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