Nature Challenge
Bruce Peninsula National Park

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    Bruce Peninsula National Park The park is uniquely situated near the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. On the east coast of this narrow strip of land, the park is bounded by the Niagara Escarpment which drops off into Georgian Bay. The escapement is the key geological feature of the park and was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1990. On the peninsula's western coastline, you'll find wonderful beaches along the shores of Lake Huron. To the north, and surrounding the park land, is Fathom Five National Marine Park, which encompasses 21 islands and 22 shipwrecks; pure gold for scuba diving enthusiasts. The area around Tobermory is considered one of the worlds best diving sites. There are a number of companies which provide charters, equipment and lessons for newbies and enthusiasts.  
 
 

The park has a variety of distinct areas, some of which are separated from each other by sections of private land. The Cyprus Lake area contains the campgrounds and essentially makes up the heart of the park. The campground has easy access to the escarpment trails along the east side of the peninsula. Just to the south of Cyprus, you'll find Emmett Lake, which allows access to another interesting stretch of the escarpment. Separate once again to these two areas, you'll find the Singing Sands section, which has its own particular flavour, including beautiful beaches and a wonderful self guided nature walk.

 
 
    The park is a wonderful venue for a variety of outdoor activities. If you want to do some light hearted paddling, head over to George Lake. For those with the skills, launch a kayak into the Great Lakes and choose from an endless itinerary. Backpackers and hikers have the same flexibility with lots of local trails to explore and the option of setting out on the 800km Bruce Trail.  
 

Camping

Front Country Camping: The park has 242 campsites in the area of Cyprus Lake. Tamarack (best for tent camping) has 81, Birches 98 and Poplars 63. There are basic amenities but no showers in the park. Showers may be had, for a fee just outside the park and in Tobermory. There are no serviced sites available in the park. Reservations are strongly recommended during high season.

Group Camping: There are three group camping sites at Cypress Lake. The sites have basic facilities only. Qualified groups should contact the park for more information.

Backcountry Camping: There are wilderness sites in the park along the Bruce Trail following the Escarpment at High Dump and Stormhaven. The sites are accessible to backpackers along a rather rugged trail. There are 18 sites in total and you must pre-register to obtain one. Reservations will prevent you from being disappointed so contact the park early. There is also a camping area on Flowerpot Island in Fathom Five National Marine Park located just off Tobermory. There are six campsites which are available only on a first come basis. Advanced kayakers can paddle to the sites after picking up permits. Bad weather may pine you down for days here, so be sure to bring extra supplies. For information on the Bruce Trail see our feature on the trail. For information on Fathom Five see Parks Canada's Website.

Note: To try to counter the spread of Emerald Ash Borer, the park does not allow you to bring your own firewood.

Reservations can be made through the parks website via Parks Canada Camping

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Nature

The park is home to a wide variety of flora including over 40 varieties of Orchids. Make sure you help to protect these wonderful species by sticking to the trails as you view them. Within the park there are Black Bear, White-tailed Deer, Chipmunks, Squirrels, Raccoons, Porcupines, Snowshoe Hare, Skunks, Frogs, Foxes, and Fishers. The Massausaga Rattlesnake also inhabits the park. The snake is amongst Canada's endangered species. We pose a far greater risk to them, than they to us. Ensure that you don't disturb them or damage their habitat while visiting the park. Report any sightings to the park office.

 

Hiking

In the Cyprus Lake area, the trails are accessible from the Head of Trails area. Except for the Cyprus Lake trail, all of the trails lead to Georgian Bay and connect to the Bruce Trail. Head north along the Bruce and have a picnic at the Grotto at Indian Head Cove or south to the campsite at Halfway Dump.


Cyprus Lake Trail is an easy and very pleasant 5km trail hike that loops around the lake - access from the Head of Trails.


The Horse Lake Trail is an easy 1km to the bay along the shore of Horse Lake - access from the Head of Trails.

The Georgian Bay - Marr Lake Trail reaches out to the bay, then loops back to the head of trails. As the name implies, the trail passes by Marr Lake - access from the Head of Trails.

Singing Sands Self Guided Nature Walk is 1.5km and an easy walk. This is an area with a very interesting ecological history and is well know for its orchids. The trail is on the west side of the Peninsula in a separate isolated section of the park across the highway from George Lake.


Halfway Log Dump is accessible from Emmett Lake via the gated road. This 3km hike will take you to one of the most spectacular areas of the Escarpment that lies within the park.


On Flowerpot Island you'll find the Loop Trail which passes the flowerpot sea stacks and allows access to the light house. There's also an out-and-back in the form of the Marl Trail which takes you to the western side of the island. The Island is located off the tip of the peninsula from Tobermory and is accessible by boat or for expert paddlers, kayak.

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Backpacking

The 800km Bruce Trail passes through the park and there are two separate places to camp within the park boundaries. You might also use the park's front country camping as a base camp and hike in either direction. Scenically, the trail is spectacular in this section, particularly down towards Lion Head. For information on the Bruce Trail see our feature on the trail. Contact the park for campsite reservations and fees.

 

Canoeing

Cyprus Lake is easily accessible to paddlers and a navigable stream leads through to the larger Cameron Lake. Emmett Lake is also accessible to canoeists. You can also canoe along the park's shores but open canoes are not idea for these waters (see the Sea Kayaking section), so we definitely wouldn't recommend it.

 

Sea Kayaking

The park is exceptional for sea kayakers (see the outfitters section if you need a rental or guide). The waters off the park have endless possibilities for paddlers. For some lazy paddling, the west side of the park has a lot of beaches and some easy off-shore areas. To the north and to the east, the park is bounded by the Escarpment and the paddling is exceptional but should be left to expert or guided paddlers. There are a number of sunken wrecks, which may be observed from the waters surface (don't enter these areas when divers are active) near Tobermory. Advanced paddlers can head out to Flower Pot Islands off the coast. The area's waters alternate in color from a deep emerald green to various shades of aquamarine. The eroding limestone cliffs, large caves and rocky white beaches make for great exploration. If you're looking for an overnight trip, you can start from Tobermory and work your way down to the wilderness campsites in the park (reserve in advance) . There is also a camping area on Flowerpot Island in Fathom Five National Marine Park located just off Tobermory. The campsites are available on a first come basis and there are only six sites. Advanced kayakers can paddle to the sites after picking up permits. Bad weather may pin you down for days, so be sure to bring extra supplies. For information on Fathom Five see Parks Canada's Website. Check with the park for accessibility and availability.

Note: The weather in the area is extremely variable and difficult to predict, particularly in the early of late part of the season (even for the meteorologists). The peninsula is surrounded by an inland sea and the waters can become dangerous in the blink of an eye. Along the cliffs, landings may be impossible and reflected waves may be a real concern. Water temperatures are very low at any time of year and hypothermia is an ever present danger.

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Scuba Diving

The waters of Fathom Five National Marine Park surround the end of the Bruce Peninsula. The park encompasses nineteen islands and most importantly to divers is home to over twenty shipwrecks. The areas waters are clear and cold, and diving is world class. You'll find several companies which provide gear rental and charters in Tobermory.

 

Mountain Biking and Cycling

Bicycles of all varieties are restricted to the roads in and around the park.

 

Winter Adventures

There are no groomed trails but skiers can use marked routes within the park to ski to the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron shorelines. Cyprus Lake campground is open during the winter for anyone wanting to do some ski camping. In the winter, services are limited. You can also snowshoe to the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron shorelines. The shores of the park can be very dangerous in the winter. Don't venture onto the ice! Contact the park for more information on winter time activities.

 

Books, Maps and Literature

Bruce Trail Association - Trail Reference: A very detailed description of the whole of the Bruce Trial with maps and illustrations from those who know and love it best. The trail guide is available from the Bruce Trail Association.

The park has a free newsprint guide which covers most aspects of the park. It's available at the campground office, as well as the visitors center.

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Interactive Map of Bruce Peninsula National Park


View Larger Map

 
 
Kayaking the Bruce
 

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Resources

   

Getting There

The park is located north of Toronto on the Bruce Peninsula just south of the Town of Tobermory. From Owen Sound in the south, follow the 6 north which takes you into the park. Owen Sound can be reached from a variety of routes, the best choices depends completely on your origin. From the north, the best access is provided by the ferry from Manitoulin Island.

 
 

Resources

Surrounding Area

Tobermory
Natural Retreat

Bruce Peninsula
Owen Sound | Owen Sound Tourism

Park Weather - From the Weather Network


Central Ontario North - From Out-There
Province of Ontario
- From Out-There
Province of Ontario - Official Site

 

Accommodations

 

Restaurants and Bars

Guides, Outfitters, Sales & Rentals

Chi-Cheemaun Ferry - Tobermory (Bruce Peninsula) - Manitoulin Island

 

Related Links

 

Links of Interest

Canadian Geographic
Conde Nast Traveler

Islands Magazine
National Geographic
National Geographic Adventure
National Geographic Traveler
Outside Magazine
Sunset Magazine
Travel and Leisure Magazine
Wavelength Magazine

 

Out-There's Destinations

 

 


Bruce Peninsula National Park
P.O. Box 189,
Tobermory, Ontario, Canada
N0H 2R0

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