Trailheadin’: Bruce Trail

It’s amazing how oblivious we are to the beautiful landscapes and majestic trails that await us only hours from our homes. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to discover such an amazing corner of this world when a friend of mine and I packed up the car and headed a few hours into Canada, centering our hiking trip around the small town of Tobermory, which rests on Lake Huron. While in the area, we had the chance to explore the surrounding trails and attractions, but focused our main hiking efforts on a piece of the legendary Bruce Trail.

While I’ve only seen photos of the Bruce Peninsula trails, Tobermory, and the surrounding wilderness during the winter and fall months, I will attest that, during summer, the region is absolutely beautiful. The waters of Lake Huron are a shimmering, vibrant blue and the forests themselves radiate with every shade of green you can imagine as you make your way along the trail.

I will say that the section of the Bruce Trail that begins near Tobermory is not for beginners. The coastal regions of Lake Huron are very rocky, which can be treacherous for those without a trained eye for hiking on such terrain. Also, since the area is continually changing in elevation, there are several rock faces and ledges that require climbing, which can be extremely difficult with gear in tow. Furthermore, there are also sudden downward changes in elevation in the form of rocky, mossy slopes and even deep crags in the ground where the rocks have shifted over time.

Have I mentioned that the trail is not for beginners? The trail itself possesses virtually no sign posts or maps, other than at the main campsites along the way, which are few and far between. The only indication of trail direction, other than the sometimes hard to follow trail itself, are small, white blazes painted about six feet up tree trunks along the way. Good in theory, these blazes are sometimes hard to spot and weather can erode them to not visible at all, which can become disorienting.

To prepare for this leg of the Bruce Trail, I’d highly suggest packing light—only essential gear, such as a tent, blanket or small sleeping bag, food, first aid, etc—and bring as much water as you can carry, as there are no stations along the trail at which to refill. My friend and I discovered this the hard way. Also, quality footwear will be your best friend along the Bruce Trail, so investing in a comfortable, treaded pair of boots is a great idea. Oh, and one last thing: keep in mind that Tobermory is considered by many to be a popular destination for summer trips, so the town and surrounding areas can get quite crowded during the summer. Keep that in mind when you schedule your trip, if solitude and a quiet leisurely hike are your goals.

Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula, the Bruce Trail, and the small town of Tobermory are an absolute treasure that only those diligent and steadfast hikers will be rewarded with. Yes, the Bruce Trail is a very difficult trail for inexperienced or physically limited outdoorsmen, but true hikers will hear the word “difficult” and translate it as “challenge.” Besides, there are several trails in the area, all of which offer a variety of terrains and sights for all levels of experience, so if you’re looking for a great place for your next summer trip, I suggest checking out the Bruce Peninsula National Park and the Bruce Trail!