Beautiful Bruce Trail Ontario is a hiking trail (no motorized vehicles) that follows the Niagara Escarpment northward from Queenston, near Niagara Falls at the Canada-US border, to Tobermory, on Georgian Bay, in Bruce County.
For the most part, the trail wends its way through wooded country and up-and-down some steep hills.
For the some serious Bruce Trail hiking (i.e. the whole trail), you need to be fit and well-equipped.
However, it's worth it. This trail takes in some of southern Ontario's best scenery, including the Niagara Escarpment, wine country, rolling farmland, and wooded hills.
A better way to experience the Bruce Trail Ontario for those of us who enjoy being out and about but aren't strong enough (it's nearly 900 km or 560 miles long) to spend days and nights out there, is to pick a reasonable distance length of the trail and hike that for the day.
Whether you go for the week or the day, be sure to take along a Bruce Trail map of the section you're walking.
The route is well signed (see photo) but there are loops, spurs and re-routes that can lead you astray, if you're not careful. In between the diamond-shaped signs, trees have the white rectangle to guide you.
The Bruce Trail is one of the oldest hiking trails in Canada, coming into use in the 1960's after some years of planning and negotiating with landowners. Today, the trail is maintained and managed by a number of Bruce Trail Clubs each charged with looking after the trail in their area. The system works well because the trail is in good shape no matter where you hike it. Trail markers point the way (white 'blaze' on the tree in the photo) and provide information about connecting loops.
In the south, the trail provides amazing views from the Niagara Escarpment across the farms, orchards and vineyards of the land from Niagara to Burlington. In the north, on the Bruce Peninsula, it provides views across Georgian Bay and all along the route you'll find waterfalls where creeks and rivers plunge over the escarpment. It's a truly scenic walk that inspires great devotion in the people who know it.
Even where views are limited, as they are in the more wooded areas, the trail provides sightings of wildflowers and wildlife throughout most of the year. Birdsong, in particular, is a constant companion on your hike during the spring and early summer.
Spring is the time for Ontario's Provincial flower, the Trillium. They grow in profusion along the trail, as do violets and other spring flowers.
The more northerly end of the trail, where these photos were taken, is better for those who aren't strong walkers because the country is flatter in that area.
From around Owen Sound to Tobermory is a good place to get the feel of this hiking trail. The lookouts aren't quite so scary, for one thing:-)
Earlier, I mentioned side loops and connecting trails. Here's how they are marked so you don't get confused and leave the Bruce Trail.
A colourful kind of wildlife, fungus, is often found on older or dead trees and Bruce Trail Ontario has lots of those, as well as plenty of new, younger ones coming through. The trail is open all year round but, obviously, in winter it's best traveled on skis or snowshoes and keep off the steep slopes.
More information and maps can be found on the Bruce Trail Conservancy website, which outlines the clubs that manage the trail as well as providing information on what you can see and how to look after the land when you're on the trail.
Sadly, not everyone who goes on the trail is as conscientious about looking out for the natural world as we'd all like them to be.
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