I’m sitting on my backpack just off the Highway 6 towards Tobermory. There isn’t much traffic, because it’s still before the season. The goal for today is pretty close. Maybe 40 km. In the distance I see a car coming. I jump to my feet and I hope that someone will stop for me. The car slows down and pulls onto the shoulder. After two weeks of hitchhiking, the first woman stops for me — Ruth. Thanks to her I was able to get to the Bruce Peninsula Park.
Bruce Peninsula Park
Turquoise water and white cliffs. I still remember photo’s that I once saw on the internet. It was hard to believe that such places are also in Canada, in Ontario. This one photo was enough for me to plan my trip so I could check if this park really looks so amazing in reality.
Ruth rides off the main road for me. She wants to make sure I get a place at the campsite. If not, I could always pitch a tent near her summer cottage, but on the other side of the peninsula. During our short journey, I find out that she worked as a social worker and helped young people who tried to commit suicide. Now she is retired and wonders what to do with so much free time.
At the end I get a site at backcountry campsite — Stormhaven and say goodbye to Ruth. I’m about to walk about 4 km. After reaching the place, I quickly pitch a tent, prepare something to eat, and hang everything that could attract bears on a designated mast. I’m walking towards the bay. Suddenly I see beautiful limestone rocks and clear turquoise water.
One of the smallest parks in Ontario
Bruce Peninsula Park, with an area of 156 km², lies in the northern part of the Bruce Peninsula, which separates Lake Huron from the beautiful Georgian Bay. This amazing area attracts more and more tourists. In the last decade, the number of people who visited the Bruce Peninsula Park has doubled and in 2018 has already reached over 400,000 visitors. To see this place without crowds, it’s better to come either in the spring or in the fall. Then you will avoid problems with finding a place on the campground or parking.
Numerous trekking routes of varying difficulty make it possible to discover not only the precipitous cliffs of Georgian Bay, but also give the opportunity to admire the diverse vegetation occurring in the park. You can find here 43 of about 60 types of orchids and numerous species of ferns. In addition, this place is ideal for bird watching enthusiasts, especially in spring and autumn.The Bruce Peninsula is located on a major northern migration route, so many species of birds can be found here.
You can find more information about the park here.
Through the Bruce Peninsula Park runs one of the longest and most popular hiking trail in Canada. The Bruce Trail is 895 km long and runs from Niagara Falls to Tobermory . There are also around 440 km of side trails leading to the most interesting places in the area. Bruce Trail passes through territories with different legal status: owned by the province of Ontario, individual municipalities or private individuals. In the case of private areas it is clearly marked. There you can’t get off the trail or stay overnight. I have decided to go through the last section of the trail, from Stromhaven campsite to Tobermory. For about 22 km I had the opportunity to pass through the lush forests and rocky shores of the Georgian Bay, admiring the turquoise water of the bay. In the walls of the cliffs there are numerous caves, including the most popular – Grotto.
Follow this link for more about the Bruce Trail.
What to see in the Bruce Peninsula Park?
Millions of years of erosion have resulted in the creation of numerous caves and interesting rock formations in the limestone rocks of Georgian Bay. One of the most popular places of this type in Bruce Peninsula is the Grotto. The crystal-clear turquoise water on the background of the cave’s carved walls is definitely a sight worth descending about 12 m down. The cave leads to a 30-minute easy trail starting at the P1 car park at Cyprus Lake.
Indian Head Cove
This beautiful bay is located next to the grotto. In nice weather, it attracts a lot of sunbathers who often dive in crystal clear water. The place offers beautiful views of the Georgian Bay.
Singing Sands is part of Bruce Park and lies on the other side of Highway 6, on Lake Huron. There is a small beach and a trail leading through rare fens and dunes. There you can admire the diverse vegetation that creates a unique ecosystem.
Fathom Five National Marine Park
Not in the park itself, but in the area nearby is Canada’s first National Marine Park- Fathom Five National Marine Park. The park is located north of Tobermory. It was created to protect the islands, waters off the tip of the Bruce Peninsula and also numerous shipwrecks that rest on the bottom of the bay. This place is especially popular due to the interesting rock formation “Flowerpot Island”, which in its shape really resembles a flowerpot. In addition, the park is popular with people who love to dive. They can immerse themselves in the crystal clear waters of the Georagian Bay and admire around 21 ship wrecks.
Here you can find more about the Fathom Five National Marine Park.
How to get to Bruce Peninsula Park?
Bruce Peninsula Park is located about 3.5 hours from Toronto by car via highway 6. You can also use Parkbus, which goes from Toronto. It costs 99 CAD round-trip or 71 CAD one way. The bus stops at Lion’s Head, Cyprus Lake and Tobermory (more here). If you are traveling through the island of Manitoulin, you can use the ferry Chi Cheemaun that flows into Tobermory. This is possible from May to mid-October (more here).
Where to sleep in the park?
When it comes to campgrounds in the park, there are Stormhaven and High Dump backcountry campsites (more here). The cost of site is 9,80 CAD per night. Better to book them earlier due to the fact that there are only 9 available spots on each. The larger camping area is Cyprus Lake Campground, which is located on the Cyprus Lake. The cost is 23,5 CAD per site (more here). There are no showers in the park.
Here you can find more about the types of campgrounds in Canada.
Is it worth visiting the Bruce Peninsula Park?
Definitely yes! This place surprised me a lot when it comes to views. I was really amazed by beautiful turquoise water, stunning dramatic cliffs and lush vegetation. I’ve discovered this small park with a great pleasure. The fact that I was in the park in early May, meant that there were no crowds yet. Thanks to this, I could enjoy this place even more. I guess, everyone will find something for themselves in the park since there is loads of amazing things to do. I’m sure that a visit to the Bruce Peninsula Park will be remembered for a long time.
You can read more about my hitchhike adventure in Canada here.