The Bruce Trail
Starting with a proposal to the Federation of Ontario Naturalists by a true visionary named Raymond Lowes in 1960, to the reality we see today, the Bruce Trail is a remarkable achievement. Carving a continuous slice of wilderness from a highly populated area, which encompasses major urban centers is a phenomenal undertaking. The trail follows the Niagara Escarpment which is one of Ontario's most interesting and unique geological features. ( Location Map for the Bruce Trail )  
Niagara Peninsula
The trail follows the stony beaches of Bruce Peninsula National Park
The escarpment runs from the tumultuous falls of Niagara in the south, to the Bruce Peninsula, then to its underwater passage across Lake Huron to Manitoulin Island in the north. The trail follows the escarpment, revealing some of Ontario's best natural features and habitat, aptly demonstrating the power of vision and determination. ( Links for the Bruce Trail )

It is Ontario's longest trail, at almost 800km, providing endless outdoor opportunities. Backpackers can choose from easy overnight trips to a full fledged through-hike, which can take well over a month. Campsites are available along the trail's length. Many are located in provincial parks or conservation areas along the route. There are innumerable access points along the trail for day hikes and many of these provide parking.

Camping on the Bruce Trail
Tired feet at the end of a hike on the Bruce Trail near Shelburne Ont.
In the winter, most sections of the trail lend themselves to great cross country/backcountry skiing and snowshoeing. Winter access is very good in most areas. Downhill skiers take advantage of the the escarpment in several areas along its length which also includes the development at Blue Mountain.

In addition to the main trail, there are over 100 side and connecting trails. These include short spurs to areas of interest, as well as intersections with major trails such as the Ganaraska, which will take you into eastern Ontario as far as Port Hope.

Backpackers on the Bruce Trail
Backpackers on the Bruce
Each of these side trails can provide excellent hiking or even backpacking opportunities. In addition, they allow for alternative access to the Bruce. The side trails are listed and mapped out in the "Bruce Trail Trail Reference". Some of the best climbing in Ontario can also be found along the Bruce at Rattle Snake Point and at Lions Head.
Niagara Escarpment Climber
Climber at Lions Head
It's taken for granted that the most beautiful stretch of the trail is along the Bruce Peninsula where the green waters of Georgian Bay contrast sharply with the Dolomite cliffs of the escarpment. Having hiked several sections I know that there are hidden treasures in almost every section, including caves, cliffs, white stone beaches, waterfalls and beautiful ponds.
Bruce Peninsula Caves
One of the caves on the Peninsula
  Flora and Fauna and the Environment
The escarpment provides a refuge for some of Ontario's "stressed" and endangered species. The trail, and areas directly adjacent to the trail, offer a small oasis for species whose habitat is being reduced or eliminated due to development. The northern intrusion of the Carolinian Forest in the south has a unique impact on the life forms as does the sheltered micro-climates formed by the escarpment's cliffs. In addition, the moderating effect of the massive bodies of water which surround the region have a major impact on the areas ecology.

There are several areas along the trail which are well known for the extensive variety of orchids and wildflowers. One of note is the Singing Sands area of Bruce Peninsula National Park. These areas are very delicate, so ensure that you tread softly.

Forested Trail
A winding, wooded path on the Bruce Trail
The upper reaches of the trail are one of the few areas where the remaining Massasauga Rattle Snakes still exist in Ontario. Contrary to what you might suppose, the rattler is shy and retiring and usually only poses a threat if its escape routes are blocked or it's startled. If you come across one, observe it from a good distance and try not to disturb it in any way. These beautiful animals deserve a chance.
Massasauga Rattle Snake
Massasauga Rattle Snake
  Some of the other creatures which share the region around the Bruce Trail are: Black Bears, White Tailed Deer, Coyote, Wolf, Raccoon, Fox.

A variety of birds of prey ride the cliff's thermals. Raptor migration is an awesome sight in the south. The birds which are normally dependent on thermals, funnel through the the Niagara peninsula to avoid the vast expanses of water presented by the Great Lakes as they head south.

Bruce Trail Access - Page 2

Canadian Shield
In the north the trial winds its way through Central Ontario North




Bruce Trail - Official Site



Out-There's Central Ontario North - Muskoka, Bruce, Georgian Bay, Lake Simcoe
Out-There's Southwestern Ontario - Coming soon!

Other Regions in Ontario


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