Bruce Peninsula National Park, Part 2: Hiking the Bruce Trail

The day after our glass bottom boat tour and exploration of Flowerpot Island we returned to Bruce Peninsula National Park to hike a couple sections of the Bruce Trail. From our stop at the visitor center a couple days earlier we had discovered the trail is actually over 550 miles long and extends from where we were on the peninsula all the way to Niagara Falls. We, of course, only intended to walk some of the miles in the park along the Georgian Bay but it was neat to think the route continued so far across Ontario.

Starting at the Halfway Log Dump trailhead, we began walking the wide path through the forest until we reached the pebble beach shoreline. Here we turned west-northwest and started up the coast. Apparently neither of us had paid much attention however and we both assumed this beach route was the trail, but after a third of a mile climbing rock and scrambling under boulders we reached a point where we’d have to wade through some thigh-high water. It was at this point that we realized this likely wasn’t the official trail. Since neither of us were wearing water shoes – and I was wearing long pants – we debated turning around to find the actual trail, but we decided to go for it, stepping carefully along the submerged rock as the waves pushed us. Tom went first, electing to keep his shoes on for traction while I offered to go with Abby.

For all her adventurous spirit, Abby does not like swimming and she balked at following us, which led to me putting her on a leash and coaxing her across as she paddled. Though I had the leash and my shoes in one hand and my pack in the other I managed to stay upright and dry which I considered a major victory. Abby was not too pleased however, less so when I had to pick her up and put her on a rock ledge at the other side of the crossing. Because I was first watching Tom and then getting myself and Abbs across I didn’t take any pictures of us crossing, but I got two photos of the couple crossing behind us.

We thought from here we’d be able to either rejoin the trail or at least continue along the shoreline but neither of these turned out to be exactly true and we quickly got ourselves into some bushwacking as we attempted to find a route around the base of the escarpment. Unable to find a way up we plunged deeper into the trees and eventually found a way down the shore, and then a small beach beyond. Here some rock climbers helpfully guided us through the forest and up a small crack to the trail.

Once we’d rejoined the beaten path it was easy walking along the cliffs – which offered some spectacular views of the bay. The overcast day may have muted the palette but the colors were spectacular nonetheless; visibility didn’t suffer much either. It was an enjoyable few miles for sure. Abby too had a wonderful time bounding up and over the rocks as well as taking in the vistas over the escarpment, but she flat out refused to pose for a picture with us much to the amusement of the small group of people clustered at one of the overlooks.

After we had retraced our steps we drove to Little Cove, farther up the peninsula which had a lovely – but crowded – beach. After a few quick photos of the beach we jumped onto the next section of the Bruce heading the opposite direction. This portion of the trail was quite different however: there were steep climbs and lots of slippery rock under a heavy cover of trees. Though there were very few overlooks of the bay after we got more than a half mile down the trail it was a nice walk, and much quieter than some of the more popular areas we’d visited earlier in the day.