Hikes in Bruce Peninsula and Grey Highlands
Easy access to a beautiful and diverse range of landscapes makes the Bruce Peninsula and Grey Highlands such a great place to explore some of the most scenic and pristine terrain that Southern Ontario has to offer. The stunning waters of Georgian Bay and the rocky shoreline made up of the Niagara Escarpment create a wonderfully atmospheric setting that will make you feel as though you are in the Mediterranean rather than Canada, while the charming forests and hilly landscape of the Grey Highlands make for great inland hiking with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
While you might feel as though you are tucked away in some far-flung, remote corner of the province, both the Bruce Peninsula and Grey Highlands are easily-accessible from major population centres like Toronto, meaning that you will get the best of both worlds when planning a trip here. Whether your aim is to camp for a few days in a national park and explore the charming scenery of the Bruce or take a quick day-hike in Grey County for elevated views from the rocky outlooks of the Niagara Escarpment, there is no doubt that your next adventure in either of these stunning locales hill be a big hit.
10 Amazing Hiking Routes In the Bruce Peninsula and Grey Highlands
Hiking on the Bruce Peninsula or in the nearby Grey Highlands can be as easy or challenging of an experience as you want it to be, with a number of trails geared towards a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts that range from families with strollers to experienced hikers that are familiar with multi-day treks. If you are interested in the latter, the famous Bruce Trail that cuts 890km across Southern Ontario passes through each of these regions, offering an enticing way to experience the varied landscapes across the province. For those looking to accomplish a much simpler day hike, countless options are available that range from easy forest walks along the elevated terrain of the Niagara Escarpment to relaxed strolls along the water’s edge in Tobermory. There are a wealth of breathtaking hikes in Southern Ontario, so why not get to planning your next adventure and check out this list of 10 amazing hiking routes that we’ve put together for the Bruce Peninsula and Grey Highlands regions:
- Mono Cliffs: An extremely popular trail that is fairly close to Toronto, hiking the Mono Cliffs is a fantastic experience that will take you through a lovely stretch of forest that is interrupted by the large rock formations of the Niagara Escarpment. The easy to navigate paths here make this a great option for a fun family adventure.
- Halfway Log Dump to the Grotto: A breathtaking hike along the shoreline of Gerogian Bay, this trail will take you to several scenic highlights, including the ever-popular Grotto and Indian Head Cove. You might have to work your way around a few tourists taking the short hike from the Cyprus Lake Campground, but the views are well-worth any disturbances.
- Lion's Head Loop: Another stunning hike along the edge of Georgian Bay, the Lion’s Head Loop will take you along a rocky outcrop for gorgeous views across the blue water. There are a few rugged stretches of trail that are mixed with easy forest walks, making this a great challenge for beginner hikers.
- Eugenia Falls and Hoggs Falls Loop: One of the most popular hikes in the Grey Highlands, the Eugenia Falls and Hoggs Falls Loop will take you through the steep terrain of Beaver Valley to visit each of these beautiful waterfalls. A secret rope ladder also provides the opportunity to descend to the pool below Hoggs Falls for a quick dip in its refreshing waters.
- Pretty River Loop Trail: This fantastic hike in Pretty River Valley Provincial Park is a beautifully scenic adventure that will take you through the forest to reach a vantage point atop a portion of the Niagara Escarpment. If you can make it out to this trail in the late-April/May window, you might even get the chance to experience the beautiful trilliums that blanket the landscape.
- Flowerpot Island Loop Trail: An amazing adventure that requires you to boat out to the island, the Flowerpot Island Loop Trail is an awesome outdoor experience that will provide you with some stunning views around Tobermory. While out on the trail, you will hike through the forests along this small island, eventually reaching the flower pot rock formations that are the result of thousands of years of weathering.
- Spirit Rock Trail: This quick hike near Wiarton will take you along the shoreline of the Bruce Peninsula for some gorgeous views overlooking Georgian Bay. Well-maintained and easy to traverse paths make this short adventure suitable for all skill levels.
- Horse and Marr Lakes Trail: The Horse and Marr Lakes Trail is a great hiking route in Bruce Peninsula National Park that takes you from the Cyprus Lake Campground to visit Indian Head Cove and the Grotto. While out on the trail, you will pass by several charming lakes, before experiencing scenic views across the striking waters of Georgian Bay. This is a great hike to do if you are already staying at the nearby campground.
- Burnt Point Loop Trail: Another great hike near Tobermory at the northwest tip of the Bruce Peninsula, the Burnt Point Loop Trail will take you through a beautiful stretch of forest to access several scenic viewpoints overlooking Georgian Bay. This is a great outing for hikers of all ages and skill levels.
- Old Baldy Lookout Trail: This awesome trail in Grey County will take you uphill for some amazing views overlooking the Beaver Valley from the rocky terrain of the Niagara Escarpment. Although there is a small amount of uneven terrain, this would still make for an amazing adventure that the entire family could enjoy.
When is the Best Time to Hike in the Bruce Peninsula and Grey Highlands?
The Bruce Peninsula and Grey Highlands see a relatively large amount of snowfall during the winter, keeping trails fairly wet into the late spring. As such, the best time for hiking here is during the early-May to October window, when trails are at their driest and weather is the most favourable. Trails will likely be the busiest during the height of summer, so planning a hiking trip for the shoulder seasons is a great way to explore the natural beauty of the area without the crowds, especially in some of the busier parks like Bruce Peninsula National Park.
Other Outdoor Activities in the Bruce Peninsula and Grey Highlands
With such a diverse range of landscapes between the Bruce Peninsula and Grey Highlands, it only makes sense that there is an equally wide range of activities that can be sought out to experience the beauty of each of these regions. In addition to hiking, summer in these areas is a popular time for activities like mountain biking along the escarpment, boating on Georgian Bay, canoeing/kayaking, fishing, rock climbing, and horseback riding. Winter brings a different set of interests into play, with skiing (downhill and cross-country), snowmobiling, ice fishing, and snowshoeing being popular pastimes.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Bruce Peninsula and Grey Highlands
Who was the Bruce Peninsula named after?
The Bruce Peninsula was named after James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin. He was the Governor General from 1847-1854 of what was at that time known as the Province of Canada.
Where should I stay when visiting the Bruce Peninsula?
If you are looking to explore the stunning terrain of the Bruce Peninsula, there are a few options for accommodations, with the best being a stay at a B&B in Tobermory or camping in the nearby Bruce Peninsula National Park.
Best Hikes in Bruce Peninsula and Grey Highlands
Mono Cliffs Trail
The Mono Cliffs Trail is an extremely popular hiking route in southern Ontario, due to its dramatic rock formations, beautiful scenery, and relatively easy access from Toronto. This route eschews the main entrance and parking area for roadside parking along 2nd Line, entering into the forest to follow an undulating trail through the tree cover that features the large sections of rock escarpment that gives the park its name. Well-marked and maintained, this route is perfect for exploring the outdoors with the family.
Halfway Log Dump to the Grotto
Hiking the Halfway Log Dump to the Grotto Trail is an amazing experience along the shores of Georgian Bay that will see you climb uphill along the rocky escarpment for some stunning views across the water. While out on the trail, you will pass through tranquil stretches of forest along the rocky and rugged shoreline, eventually arriving at the scenic rock caves of Indian Head Cove and the Grotto. While the middle portions of this trail likely won’t be very populated, the start and end points are popular tourist destinations that will see a dramatic increase in foot traffic.
Lion’s Head Loop Hike
The Lion’s Head Loop is arguably one of the most popular hiking routes in the entire province of Ontario, and it is for good reason. This amazing trail will take you across a rocky and rugged bluff for breathtaking views overlooking the shimmering waters of Georgian Bay before ending the hike with a relaxing stroll through a lovely stretch of woodland terrain. This trail is usually very busy and runs over capacity, so be sure to arrive early to enjoy at least a few of the beautiful views in solitude.
Eugenia Falls and Hoggs Falls Loop Hike
The Eugenia Falls and Hoggs Falls Loop is an amazing gem of a hike in Ontario that will take you through the Beaver Valley to visit two stunning waterfalls. This 12.6 km trail sets out from the quaint hamlet of Eugenia, the home of a would-be gold rush in 1852, and travels along the Boyne River for scenic woodland views and the chance to swim below Hoggs Falls. With easy-to-navigate terrain and beautiful views, this route is perfectly suited for both casual and experienced hikers alike.
Pretty River Loop Trail
The Pretty River Loop Trail is a fantastic hiking route near Collingwood that will lead you through the beautiful terrain that can be found within Pretty River Valley Provincial Park. While out hiking this trail, you will make your way along the winding banks of the Pretty River before climbing uphill to one of the high points along the Niagara Escarpment for some amazing views overlooking the picturesque Grey County landscape. Try timing this hike for late-April to May when the trilliums along the trail are in bloom.
Flowerpot Island Loop Trail
Hiking the Flowerpot Island Loop Trail is a fun experience near Tobermory that will see you take a scenic boat ride to a small island to explore its inland forests and coastal areas. While out on the trail, you will be able to check out the namesake of the island, a series of unique rock formations that have weathered severely over time and now resemble giant flower pots towering above the water. Pair this hike with a weekend of camping on the island for the ultimate outdoor experience.
Spirit Rock Trail
The Spirit Rock Trail is a fantastic hiking route near Wiarton at the south end of the Bruce Peninsula that will provide you with stunning views overlooking Georgian Bay. While out on the trail, you will trek through a lovely stretch of woodland terrain and experience beautiful views of the water and nearby town of Wiarton. An easy-to-navigate route and very little elevation gain makes this hike perfectly suitable for people of all skill levels.
Horse and Marr Lakes Trail
The Horse and Marr Lakes Trail is a spectacular hiking route near the northern end of the Bruce Peninsula that will lead you around several charming lakes for stunning views overlooking the shimmering waters of Georgian Bay. While out on the trail, you will make your way past the shores of Horse Lake and along the edge of Georgian Bay to visit the picturesque rock formation known as the Grotto before returning along the edge of the Marr and Cyprus lakes. As this trail sets out from the Cyprus Lake Campground, this hike is perfectly paired with a fun weekend of camping along the wild expanse of the Bruce Peninsula.
Burnt Point Loop Trail
The Burnt Point Loop Trail is a fantastic hiking route near Tobermory that will lead you through the beautiful terrain of Fathom Five National Marine Park, making for a fun family adventure out on the trails. While out hiking this route, you will pass by several scenic lookouts that offer stunning views of the rocky shoreline of Georgian Bay with its shimmering blue waters. With easy-to-navigate trails that are well-maintained and a good variety of terrain, this route is perfectly suitable for hikers of nearly every skill level.
Old Baldy Lookout Trail
The Old Baldy Lookout Trail is a fantastic day-hike in Grey County that will take you along an elevated position for some truly beautiful views overlooking Beaver Valley. While out on the trail, you will hike along the forested edge of an escarpment and take in the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape from a series of rocky outlooks, including views of the quaint town of Kimberley in the valley below. While this trail does feature a small amount of elevation gain and some uneven ground, it is perfectly suitable for a fun family adventure.
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