South Georgian Bay encompasses a vast system of wilderness trails, footpaths, and “rail to trails” that wind their way through diverse landscapes along the Niagara Escarpment, along Georgian Bay, through historic Collingwood and the beautiful Blue Mountains.
THE BRUCE TRAIL: CANADA’S OLDEST MARKED FOOTPATH
Canada’s oldest marked footpath crosses Ontario from Niagara region through to Tobermory. The Blue Mountains Club maintains the Bruce Trail areas from Lavender to Craigleith, which boasts the highest elevation on the Bruce Trail at 540 m at Osler Bluff Lookout. The Beaver Valley Club looks after the trail from Craigleith to Blantyre through Loree Forest and Kolapore. Guide books for sale at our Visitor Centre. The Bruce Trail is marked with white blazes 5cm wide by 15cm high. They are painted on trees and fence posts. A single blaze indicates the route continue forward, a double blaze (one above the other) marks that a turn is imminent. Blazes in blue signify side-trails that may lead to lookouts, campsites or for circle trails. Diamond shaped Bruce Trail symbols and access signs also mark the routes. For more information about the Bruce Trail Clubs in South Georgian Bay go to www.brucetrail.org.
A 34 km trail following the old Northern Railway route is great for hiking and cycling, stretching from Collingwood’s Harbourview Park to the waterfront in Meaford. The trail has more than 30 access points and cuts through some scenic features, the waterfront, apple orchards and beaches.
Over 50 km of marked trails attract hikers, cross country skiers and birding enthusiasts. Watch for the parking sign on Grey Road 2. Visitors are advised to get a map due to the complexity of this trail system, which are available at the Visitor Centre and the Ravenna Country Market.
Hike through crevices and caves that surround the popular Metcalfe Rock climbing area. Access is easy and a parking lot is just off the road. We recommend using Free Spirit Tours who offer guided tours for climbing and caving in this area.
A 7.1 km hike rated easy with dramatic views over Georgian Bay; the entrance is located on 21st Sideroad, 5.2 km from Grey Road 2. Follow the blue blazes on the north side of the road for 200 meters until it intersects the main Bruce Trail (white blazes) and turn left. Maps available online and at our Visitor Centre.
From Collingwood, go west on Mountain Road to 10th Line and turn left. Drive to Sideroad 33-34 and turn right. Drive west to Collingwood-Clearview Townline where there is a parking lot 500 meters past the Townline on the left. This hike is detailed in the Bruce Trail guide and is approximately 6 km.
This 10.7 km trail connects the Thornbury Harbour to Clendenan Dam, offers a number of scenic rest areas and vistas with benches, and meanders through Town parks such as Thornbury Riverwalk, Lion’s Park and Fireman’s Park in Clarksburg. Many interpretive signs provide historical and environmental facts along the way.
This 14 km trail along the Bighead River in Meaford can be accessed on Edwin Street across from Beautiful Joe Park or from the 7th Line. Take Highway 26 west to Grey Road 12 and turn left at 7th Line. Parking is after 13th Sideroad.
The 3.1 km loop trail between Grey Road 13 and 3rd Line near Heathcote can be accessed on Sideroad 22C to the west. Park beside the road. Follow the white blazes of the main Bruce Trail to the west on the old cart track that is the continuation of Sideroad 22C. After about 1 km on your right (north side) you will see a sign for the blue-blazed Siergerman Side Trail. This trail offers great views across the Beaver Valley and a nearby ravine. The intersection of the main Bruce Trail and the Siegerman Side Trail is a perfect spot for a picnic and a splash in the river.
NOTTAWASAGA BLUFFS LOOP
4.0 km – From Collingwood, take County Road 124 south to the edge of Singhampton. Turn left at Milltown Road and follow the signs for the Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Authority. The road twists and turns but follow the signs until the road ends at the Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Authority parking lot. Pick up the white blazes of the main Bruce Trail, head south for 600 m and turn right (west) for 400 m to the camping area. Take the Keyhole Side Trail to the west (right) and be prepared to play among the rocks, a delight for children of all ages. The trail leads you down to Keyhole rock, then joins the Nottawasaga Bluffs Side Trail. Turn left, follow the trail up hill to re-join the main trail, and here is a short blue-blazed trail that goes out to the bluffs. At the end of these lookouts are caves, another playground for the adventurous. Returning to the top of the Escarpment, continue straight ahead to the eas, traverse pleasant woods for 1.5 km back to the parking area.
WALTER’S FALLS LOOP
4.5 km — Take Grey Road 40 from Highway 26. In the village of Walter’s Falls, turn north on Front Street to the Falls Inn and park. From the side patio, you can see where Walter’s Falls spills over the cliff edge. A century ago this was the scene of a bustling sawmill. Take the hike in a counter-clockwise direction by following the east bank of the river downstream and through a cedar bush, then alongside Grey Road 29. Look for the blue-blazed Walter’s Creek Side Trail and follow it past old farmstead ruins to a broad meadow. Immediately after crossing the river, locate the white blazes of the main trail, turn left. Past the Townline, the trail climbs to the glacial deposits that give a perspec- tive on the headwaters of the Bighead River. You will cross Grey Road 29 again by return- ing on the west side of the creek and back to the Inn.
KOLAPORE UPLANDS TRAIL
9.0 km — Head west on Grey Road 19, past Grey Road 2. Go right at the ‘v’ intersec- tion, then left onto the 9/10 Sideroad. This trail starts at Duncan Crevice Caves where distinctive fern, moss, liver- wort, and lichen vegetation is one of the best preserved on the Niagara Escarpment. After you pass a waterfall and meadow, follow the blazes to your right and soon thereafter, walk through the Metcalfe Rock area filled with little caves, rock outcroppings and long tree roots straddling rocks. (This is for a linear hike.)
EUGENIA FALLS CONSERVATION TRAIL
1 km — Located on Grey Road 13 just south of Eugenia, the trail winds along the edge of the ‘Cuckoo Valley’ with excel- lent views of the 30 meter high waterfall, and loops past a war memorial and picnic shelter. Interpretive plaques along the fieldstone wall provide background on the historical importance of the Beaver River.
BAYVIEW ESCARPMENT NATURE RESERVE
5 km — Located off Highway 26 on the St. Vincent Syden- ham Townline, hike this loop in a counter clockwise direction. Take the old cart track which heads to the northeast and enter the Nature Reserve by the steel gate. The track passes through a pine plantation and then moves into a forest as the trail gradually climbs northeast towards the Escarpment. After about 2 km, watch for Bruce Trail blazes and the left turn sign, taking you to the edge of the Escarpment with some wonderful views across the Meaford Canadian Forces Base to Georgian Bay. Follow the blazes north, then west and eventually south to return to your car.
DEVIL’S GLEN PROVINCIAL PARK
1.9 km — This non-operating park, located on County Road 124 just west of Singhampton, features the highest peaks along the Escarpment, 460 meters above sea level. Walk to the lookout platform and admire the steep bedrock gorge and sweeping view of the entire valley. The highest loca- tion in Southern Ontario, reach- ing an elevation of approx. 546 meters above sea level, lies about 4 km to the northwest on the Singhampton moraine, looking at Edward Lake.
WASAGA SECTION – GANARASKA TRAIL
5.1 km — The Wasaga section begins just south of Archer Road on River Road East. The trail winds through the sand hills of Wasaga Beach Provin- cial Park to Wasaga Beach, providing great views of the Nottawasaga River deep below in the valley. From there, the trail goes through the valley of the McIntyre Creek and passes along quiet country roads to Smithdale, east of Glen Huron, where it connects with the Mad River section.