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.
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Route Description for Lion’s Head Loop Hike
Set along the scenic Bruce Trail, the Lion’s Head Loop is one of the more popular hiking routes in Ontario thanks to its picturesque views that sweep across Georgian Bay. While this makes for some breathtaking vistas and unforgettable memories, it also means that foot traffic along the route will be fairly heavy, with the trail running over capacity most days in the summer when conditions are the most favourable. Be sure to arrive early enough to secure parking and enjoy at least a part of the trail in solitude. Additionally, this hike features some rocky stretches of trail that face the steep drop offs of the bluff. Exercise caution in these areas and be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support to better traverse the trail.
While the trail may be a busy one, you shouldn’t let the crowds of other hikers detract from the breathtaking experience that is hiking the Lion’s Head Loop. With beautiful scenery and a rock escarpment that resembles a lion’s head - a feature which gives the area its name - this trail is a real contender for one of the most scenic hikes in the province. While out on this 15.0 km bucket list trail, you will make your way along dramatic rock bluffs and take in the stunning views that sweep across the turquoise waters of Georgian Bay before traversing a rugged stretch of rocky beach and meandering through a tranquil forest. This hike features a little bit of everything, making it the perfect option for getting out to explore some of the most beautiful landscapes in Ontario.
To reach the trailhead for this hike from the McCurdy Parking Lot, you will need to walk along Moore Street to the northwest, following the road as it bends to the right and comes to a fork after 0.5 km. Head to the right here to get onto the trail and begin your hike, passing through the gate to make your way through the beautiful atmosphere of the forest. After 0.9 km, keep left at the trail junction and you will pass by a unique geological feature known as the pothole, a hole was carved into the rock during thousands of years of glacial activity.
From here, continue along the trail for 1.1 km to traverse the escarpment, where you will be able to visit a series of progressively more beautiful vantage points with stunning views overlooking Greogian Bay and the rugged coastline. At this point, most casual and beginner hikers will turn back due to the rugged and rocky trail conditions that lead down to a rock beach. Carefully make your way through this rough stretch of the trail for the next 1.8 km, enjoying the atmosphere of the forest and the views of the water, before arriving at a junction with a trail that leads down to the McKay’s Harbour Campsite.
Keep right at the junction, followed by a series of two left turns to continue along the trail. This middle portion of the hike is a lengthy walk along the southeast edge of the escarpment, so make sure to exercise caution, keep straight along the trail, and follow the trail markers. After enjoying the tranquil woodland setting and views across the water for approximately 6.0 km, you will come to another junction in the trail near the end of McKague Road. Keep right here to set out on the final leg of the hike that will lead you through a much easier stretch of trail.
After 453 m, follow the trail as it bears right and continues to lead you through the forest in a northern direction. This part of the route is a much more relaxed walk through a peaceful woodland area and although there are some roots and rocks along the trail - it is a forest after all - it does make for a nice and easy return back to the car park. Continue on for 2.5 km and head right at the fork, keeping left for the next 1.4 km to arrive at the final junction in the trail. Turning right here will bring you back to the parking lot where you began your unforgettable adventure on the Lion’s Head Loop.
Located in the waters of Lake Huron, Georgian Bay is a vast body of water that is pock-marked by tens of thousands of small islands. At roughly 190.0 km long and 80.0 km wide, the bay is almost 80% the size of Lake Ontario and is often referred to as the “sixth Great Lake”. Within the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg and Huron-Petun First Nations peoples, Georgian Bay was first explored by Europeans in 1615-1616 when Samuel de Champlain mapped out the area. It was later renamed by the English in the name of King George IV.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to hike Lion’s Head?
Although the hike to the lookout is only about an hour, this longer trail loop will take you around the bluff and through the forest on the return leg of the hike, making for an approximately 5-6 hour adventure.
How far is Lion’s Head from Toronto?
The distance between Toronto and Lion’s Head is 210km, although the actual road distance is 254.0 km. This makes for roughly a 3.5h drive.
Insider Hints for Lion’s Head Loop Hike
- Arrive early to secure parking, as this trail can become very busy during peak hours.
- Parking is $5 per hour or $30 for a full day.
- Wear proper hiking footwear with good ankle support, as portions of this trail are rocky and rough.
- Washroom facilities can be found next to the parking lot.
Getting to the Lion’s Head Loop Hike Trailhead
To reach the parking area for the Lion’s Head Loop from Wiarton, head north on ON-6N for 30.0 km and turn right onto Bruce County Road 9, following it for 3.0 km. Make a left here onto Main Street/County Road 29 and continue on for 400 m before turning right on Moore Street. You will find the parking lot on the right in 1.1 km
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