1. Take a hike
Hiking is an obvious one, which is why it’s the first on the list. But it’s also something that cannot be overstated. You can hike the entire 885 km trail, which can take “anywhere from 30 days to 60 years” but you’ll want to pack a good sized water bottle and some snacks. Marked by white blazes on the trees all the way up to the top of the Georgian Bluffs, the Bruce seems to have everything. Along the way you may find yourself mesmerized at the bottom of rushing waterfalls, wading through the calm waters of Cyprus Lake, dodging the crashing waves against Indian Head Cove, climbing down to the famous Grotto, or making your way across to the Flowerpots of Fathom Five National Marine Park. Thank science for digital, because you would definitely run out of film. Inglis Falls is where our trip really began - home to the picturesque 18-metre high cascade falls, towering ancient pines and the remnants of a historic mill that helped to shape surrounding communities. We were already in love. We snapped photos, took in the history and imagined being there one hundred years earlier, watching the mill in action.
2. Ditch city lights for starlight
While I could have hiked forever, we were destined for where the Bruce Peninsula splits Lake Huron from the bay, so we continued up to our camp site at Lake Cyprus. Our site was private, unlike much of the “car camping” of my teens and early twenties. It was the type of place where you could spot relaxed deer and rabbits meandering through. We cooked over an open fire, and actually saw stars when the sun went down.
3. Hit the beach
Perhaps the most stunning part of the trip was climbing around Indian Head Cove, so-named because early settlers saw a face in the magnificent overhanging ridges. Though the water was freezing cold, and the beaches were stone, it looked like a tropical paradise. We couldn’t resist swimming (but you have to be careful – the cold temperatures really do impair your swimming ability). Neither of us could believe we were still in Ontario. Whatever you do, don’t miss the glowing blue water of the Grotto. We probably could have stayed the entire trip, but be sure to save some time for the sandier beaches of Sauble and the Singing Sands. And don’t be freaked out if you notice the tiny fish nibbling on your toes when you go swimming – think of it as nature’s spa treatment!
4. Get lost
With over 42 acres of natural landscape in the Hockley Valley, it’s easy to feel lost (in a good way).The Bruce Trail Conservancy, one of LEAF’s partners in biodiversity through Ontario Power Generation’s Biodiversity Program, has been working for the past 50 years to preserve, protect and promote the trail. Currently they have a campaign for the Cedar Highlands, an “oasis of steep ravines, broad paths, sweeping views and towering trees.” Here you can see a completely different side of the trail. The Conservancy also offers “Ask a BTC Ecologist”, which can come in handy when you’re sorting through the hundreds of photos you took, or trying to understand the ecology of the region! Areas like this offer so many environmental benefits, but they also need our urban forests to be migratory corridors and help mitigate the effects of climate change – which can alter them forever.
5. Observe nature’s pottery
As I mentioned, we took the boat ride over to Flowerpot Island. Though technically not part of the Bruce Trail, it’s definitely worth it if you like hikes, secluded nature, and natural wonders. The “flowerpots” are pieces of the rocky shore that have eroded away over centuries, leaving behind tall rock pillars, hollowed out and containing trees and other vegetation. But a word of warning: if you do plan on going definitely check the weather – and ask about the bugs. We happened to arrive just after a long rainfall following extremely hot and dry weather. I had never seen (or be eaten by) so many deerflies in all of my life.
Have you been to the Bruce? What’s your favourite thing to do?
LEAF programs are supported by Ontario Power Generation's Biodiversity Program.