Hiking in Bruce Peninsula National Park is a visual treat. Rugged trails deliver exceptional cliff top scenery. They pass caves, crystal clear Caribbean-coloured blue water, ancient cedar trees and even rare orchids.
I spent a few days one May hiking in Bruce Peninsula National Park and while I hiked sections of the Bruce Trail I also did several loops on trails leading to the Bruce Trail (see map below). I think the Bruce Trail, Canada’s longest marked hiking trail, that jogs for 21 km (13.1 mi) through the park, offers the best hiking experience in the park.
The national park is part of a World Biosphere Reserve. People come from all over the world to see the rugged cliffs and the clear turquoise – blue water that is part of the Georgian Bay. Reportedly there are 1,000 year old cedar trees too.
Where is Bruce Peninsula National Park?
The park is located at the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula, between Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay. It’s 289 kilometres northwest of Toronto, and approximately a four hour drive.
To get there take Highway 10 north out of Brampton and continue as it becomes Highway 6 for 283 kilometres to reach Cyprus Lake Road. Turn right and follow it for 4.4 kilometres.
It’s 10.6 kilometres south of Tobermory to reach the turnoff onto Cyprus Lake Road.
In summer a Parkbus often runs to Bruce Peninsula National Park from Toronto. Visit their website to keep abreast of the schedule.
The main trailhead is at Cyprus Lake. Choose from a variety of trails starting here. Most are an easy hike down to the Georgian Bay but then the level of difficulty is all over the map, from easy to very difficult. Most people head for the gorgeous area around the Grotto.
When I visited it had just finished raining hard and by the time I reached the Grotto on the Georgian Bay I could hardly see a thing because of dense fog. Fortunately towards the end of my hiking day it started to lift. I don’t know how common fog is though I had it again on the second day.
Indian Head Cove and the Grotto
Leave plenty of time to explore both Indian Head Cove and the Grotto, a big cave on the shore carved by waves over thousands of years. Both are about a 90 minute hike west of the Stormhaven backcountry campsite. These two spots, real highlights on the trail, are only 10 minutes apart.
The other must-do hike is the one to Overhanging Point. But it’s a surprisingly tough hike. Follow a trail filled with uneven, sharply pointed rocks and big tree roots. From Overhanging Point you can easily return to the Cyprus Lake Trailhead via the easy Marr Lake Trail though you will have to retrace your steps a bit. Or continue hiking another 17.5 kilometres to Tobermory.
The Bruce Trail
Any trail that is marked with a white blaze is part of the Bruce Trail. The Bruce Trail is both the oldest and longest marked hiking trail in Canada – running 893.9 kilometres. It starts in Queenston Heights Park near Niagara Falls and finishes at Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. In Bruce Peninsula National Park there are approximately 21 kilometres of the actual Bruce Trail.
Here is a look at the hiking in Bruce Peninsula National Park, mostly along the Bruce Trail.
The Bruce Trail on the way to Halfway Log Dump and High Dump
You can access Halfway Log Dump in Bruce Peninsula National Park via turning east on Dyers Bay Road and then making a left on Crane Lake Road. Follow it a short distance to reach the parking lot.
From the parking lot it’s 8.0 kilometres to High Dump and 15.5 kilometres to Halfway Log Dump.
The trail starts off easily enough on a gravel track with little elevation gain. After you pass Moore Lake to the east, the terrain becomes significantly more rugged.
The High Dump Campsite is off to the right (east), the Halfway Log Dump Campsite many kilometres along to the west. If you continued, you would arrive at the Stormhaven backcountry campsite. Even though I had fog for much of the hike, it was still very beautiful and the views down to the water quite gorgeous. Beware of the cliffs though. They can be slippery when wet.
You can do an out and back hike but if you could arrange a shuttle even better. Then you could enjoy a beautiful one way hike on the Bruce Trail. To do that leave one car at Cyprus Lake and one at Halfway Log Dump.
Camping in Bruce Peninsula National Park
There are two backcountry camping areas in the park – Stormhaven and High Dump. Parks Canada starts taking reservations on January 14, 2020 at 8 AM EST. The exact date varies from year to year. The camping fee per person per night is $10.02. An online reservation is $11.50
Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-877-737-3783.
Both campsites have 9 spots with wooden platforms like the one pictured below. You need a free-standing tent to set up on the platforms. Bring a cook stove as fires are not allowed. There are poles that can be use to hang your food and toiletries.
For more information about Bruce Peninsula National Park visit their website.
Further reading on hiking in Ontario
- A Hike on the Ganaraska Trail – Northumberland Section
- The Top 10 Hikes in Ontario
- The Top of the Giant Hike in Northwest Ontario
- Hiking in Awenda Provincial Park, Ontario
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