Niagara to Tobermory – Kolapore Uplands

September 18th we headed back to the Beaver Valley.  The weather called for rain and we packed accordingly.

Although I’m never eager to get out of bed at 5:45 I look forward to our hikes and this morning’s sunrise was the perfect start to an amazing day:

Sept 18 hike morning sunrise

Our goal was 9.6 km from 23.8 to marker 33.4 on map 25.

Even after more than 400km and 1 1/2 years on the trail we still worry a little that our car won’t be where we exit the trail.  We check and double check the map before starting out.  We use to leave 1 car at the end point and 1 at the beginning but for this hike, as thunderstorms were in the forecast, we parked one vehicle at the end point and one in the middle.  We hiked 5 km,  ate lunch in the comfort of our car and then simply moved the end vehicle to the start point (23.8)   There were two added bonuses –  the last 5 km were the most difficult so we got that portion out of the way while we were relatively fresh and we were able to gather additional rain gear.

We started at point 27.9 (middle of the hike) with most of the trail running through the Duncan Crevice Caves Provincial Nature Reserve.  It was breathtaking:

Rock & Moss

Pinnacle Rock, a large outcropping of rock that has separated from the escarpment proved a difficult climb and one we would have had real difficulty with a year ago when we began our journey:

Sept 18 Carol & RocksIt wasn’t a piece of cake but we managed just fine.

The trail hugs the steep valley wall of Mill Creek and crosses a beautiful bridge supplied by the Bruce Trail Conservancy and built by dedicated volunteers:

Sept 18 bridgeThis portion of the trail also follows the escarpment and we hiked alongside  the spectacular Duncan Crevice Caves with their fascinating geology:

Sept 18 hike creviceThe trail at marker 23.8 runs alongside private property and 2 beautiful horses galloped to the fence line to greet us and to see if we might have treats.  With hundreds or perhaps thousands of hikers passing their way we suspected they had been the lucky recipients of apples from the trail or fruit and carrots from backpacks.  It was a lovely moment.

At 27.0 the trail runs through Metcalfe Rock .  The guide book gave us a choice of descending from the summit of the rock via the main trail or via the Metcalfe Crevice Side Trail.    Carol read the description and quickly decided she would stay on the main trail.  I on the other hand thought I might try the side trail.  I knew from the description that it was “exciting and demanding” but I honestly felt up to it.  I got really lucky when 2 young hikers came along and started descending before us:

Septe 18 hike young peopleWhen we asked if this was the side trail they quickly said “no they were just having fun”. Oh the joys of youth!  Although I did remind them their mother’s would not approve and they laughingly agreed. They did report they had completed the side trail through the crevice and it was steep, difficult and covered in wet, slippery plants.  You guessed it – I finished the hike with Carol following the less exciting and less demanding main trail.


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Niagara to Tobermory – Noisy River Nature Preserve

September 11th we decided on a 1 day hike on Map 21.  The 9.1 km took us through a portion of the Noisy River Provincial Nature Preserve.

We started in the town of Lavender parking in the designated area beside the cemetery.    Lavender was originally called Masten’s Corners and grew to include a post office, hotel, blacksmith shop, a temperance lodge, 2 churches and a cheese factory.  Today only 5 houses and 1 church remain.

A large portion of this hike was along concession roads which for the most part is uninteresting but allows for a faster pace.  I have blogged previously about more than one rural road name Highway 30 so it was lovely to see signs that read Lavender Hill Road and Garden of Eden Road.

We crossed pasture land:

Sept 11 pasturewhere farmers are working tirelessly to get their crops in before the first frost.  The private lands we pass are often marked with old rock fences and wooden snake fences and I could spend all day just photographing these beautiful boundary markers:

Sept 11 fence

We moved in and out of woods, through an old apple orchard where Carol enjoyed the juice of the fruit and at the escarpment edge there was a beautiful lookout.  The haze didn’t do justice to my photographs so I didn’t include them.

We had our first sign of Fall with vibrant red and orange leaves scattered along the path:

Sept 11 carol in leavesWe occasionally hike in comfortable silence.  Sometimes we discuss politics and currently there is no shortage of topics as we are in the middle of a very long federal election campaign.  Here with the leaves starting to turn it gave us an opportunity to reflect on our 2015 hiking season knowing it was coming to an end and that we needed to be mindful of our 250km goal.

Sept 11 leaf

We hiked along the Noisy River and although not large it did provide us with beautiful sounds and lush scenery:

Sept 11 noisy river

There were several large trees that had split and toppled with a portion of one completely blocking the trail forcing us to find a new route around the debris:

Tree ovver path

A beautiful day with much appreciated cooler temperatures.

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Niagara to Tobermory – Devil’s Glen

Over 3 days we hiked 31.9 km and the entirety of Map 22.  I fell behind on my blogs and therefore have combined 3 separate hikes in 1 blog.

September 4 we completed 9.8 km from marker 20.4 to 30.2 ; September 5 we hiked 11.3 km from 9.1 to 20.4 and we returned on September 12 and finished Map 22 hiking from 30.2 to 41.0 (10.8km) on Map 23.

Devil’s Glen is located in the Collingwood portion of the Bruce Trail and it lies within the Nottawasaga Valley.  It is also only 45 minutes from Carol’s home in Barrie which makes overnight accommodations both pleasant and inexpensive.

There are a few noted spots we missed along the trail.  When we were about 5km into the hike, we stopped to reread the description and found in the historic notes an entire paragraph devoted to Freedom Rock: “the collection of aphorisms that have been lovingly inscribed into the rocks”.   Unfortunately we missed Freedom Rock and the 30+ degree temperatures made it too uncomfortable to backtrack the more than 3 km it would take to view this spectacle.  We agreed that at some future date we would hike to point 21.4 to view this outcrop of rocks that has broken off from the escarpment and is located to the North of the Singhampton Caves.

There were other incredible sights like this spider’s web reflecting the sunlight:

Devils Glen spiderwebAnd beautiful wildflowers:

Devils Glen orchidThey certainly looked like orchids and once again Carol and I agreed to do more research into the flora that is so magnificent and diverse along the trail.

This hike takes you through Devil’s Glen ski club and a portion of the trail is made up of switchbacks that allowed us to ascend and descend the mountain (or hill) in a leisurely and safe fashion.  Erosion was visible for more than 2km and without the paths that wound back and forth, this hike would have been treacherous.  Signs such as these were abundant and are posted so that in ski season you can choose a slope that matches your ability:

Devils Glen ski hillWe followed old logging roads; areas of reforestation; a kilometer along the Mad River and a boardwalk that was both beautiful and functional:

Devils glen boardwalk

We were on the lookout for a lime kiln as the guide book notes the ruins of a kiln just past 18.8km.  Settlers used kilns to burn the escarpment’s dolostone rock to create lime.  We saw what might have been the ruins of a kiln now overgrown with weeds, wildflowers and grass.

For all 3 days it was hot and muggy but the scenery was spectacular and completing a map is both physically and emotionally satisfying.

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Niagara to Tobermory = Map 26 Complete

I would never have imagined that I wouldn’t be able to come up with a blog title more colorful and intriguing than “Map 26 Complete” ; however those who have hiked this portion of the trail will surely understand.  Most maps are 20-30 kilometers and can be completed in 2 or 3 hikes and they all head north to our ultimate destination of Tobermory.  Map 26 is over 50 km with parallel trails on either side of the Beaver River.   I’m thrilled the Bruce Trail Conservancy is acquiring land BUT  I could look across the valley and see where we had hiked May 15, May 22 and August 22.  Carol keeps reminding me it’s about the journey and not the destination!  She even used words like “grumpy” to describe my demeanor today.

We hiked from km 63.3 to 74.8  ending at the Hoggs Falls parking lot.  It was a hot, muggy day and it doesn’t help that we wear long pants and long sleeve tops, wool socks under hiking boots and the now famous “ranger hat”.  Maybe it was the sweat dripping off my forehead and into my eyes and not the actual parallel trails that made me grumpy.

We were fortunate to never be far from the sights and sounds of falling water:

Aug 31 streamWe passed several small, unnamed waterfalls and it was necessary to cross numerous streams.  Large stones have been placed in the water, once again by volunteers, to make the crossing a little easier.  Although with temperatures hovering over 30 degrees wading in was sorely tempting.

We passed several magnificent houses as we always do when hiking and again wondered if these 5,000+ square foot monstrosities were weekend getaways, retirement properties, or in this case a stunning family home in a most unique location:

falls houseTo the East there were beautiful views of the Cuckoo Valley and North the entire Beaver Valley stretched out before us:

Aug 31 view

A truly beautiful hike!   I wish I had a larger vocabulary to describe the scenery.  I seem to be repeating words like breathtaking, amazing and beautiful.  It is all just so magnificent and such a wonderful discovery.

We are both however looking forward to cooler Fall temperatures.


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Niagara to Tobermory – 2 Waterfalls

Saturday August 22nd we decided to hike Map 26 from 52.5km to 63.3.   I left home before 7 a.m. to meet Carol at our end point at 9.   The drive through the countryside was spectacular.  The sun was rising as I headed southeast.  Mist covered the ponds; cows and horses grazed in fields along my route and there was a stillness that makes you grateful to be alive.

This sunflower field just outside of Port Elgin is so beautiful and in the early morning all of the flowers are turning toward the East to catch the first rays of the sun:

Sunflower 2The hay cut and bailed in fields across the county was the 2nd stop for a photograph enroute to the trail:

Hay balesEven after several stops to take photographs and get gas, I arrived early and had time for a few pages of the Saturday Star at our meeting point.  Not getting lost enroute has its advantages.

The description in the guidebook enticed us with 2 waterfalls.  Eugenia Falls:

Eugenia Falls

named after Princess Eugenie, wife of Napoleon the III (who knew).  The plaque on the wall surrounding the Falls state it was founded in 1852 and in 1905 became the location of the 2nd hydro electric plant in Ontario.

At the south end of the Beaver Valley the beautiful Hoggs Falls:

Hoggs Falls

where the Boyne and Beaver Rivers join:

There is a great tour you can take in the area  called the 7 waterfalls of Grey Bruce.  Eugenie and Hoggs form part of that tour.  Visit http://www.greybruce/waterfalls.

The 10km wound through meadows and hardwood forests and we were sheltered from the sun for most of the hike.  There were benches for resting and enjoying the spectacular views:

ViewAt one point we were worried when we came across this sign:

Closed Sign

But we followed the white markings which skirted the closed portion of the trail.

We did encounter this massive tree across our path a short distance later and needed to duck under bushes to find a safe route around the spot:

Tree across path

The 5 hours flew by.  We stopped often; enjoyed the spectacular trail sights and set the date for our next hike to finish Map 26.

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Niagara to Tobermory – The Beaver Valley

Day 2 we upped our kilometers to 8.7 on Map 25 in the Beaver Valley.  We started at 33.4 in Duncan which was once a small town and now consisted of a sign and an old church:

Duncan our start point

This hike was just over 4km of road and road allowance which makes for an easier hike and faster time.  It was a beautiful day with 23 degree weather and no bugs until we entered the forest to descend a scree slope.   We had encountered a scree slope in the Owen Sound area earlier this year and knew it it would be beautiful but a real challenge:

Carol on scree rock

The rock formations are simply stunning and with all of the rain we’ve had the moss and other vegetation are vibrant greens with wildflowers in the most stunning shades of blue.

We ascended to the top of the escarpment through a spectacular natural pass:

Natural Pass

Cheryl in crevice

There was a bench placed at McCluskey’s Rock overlooking the Valley where we stopped for a rest and much needed hydration:

McClusky Rock

Our car was parked in the lot at the Old Baldy Conservation Area and as always a welcome sight.

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Niagara to Tobermory – We’re BACK

After more than a month of being away from the Bruce Trail,  we headed out for a 1 day “short hike” August 5th.  Carol had been on vacation in Wales for 2 weeks with her granddaughters and the 2 weeks prior to her trip my achilles tendon and her knees kept us off the trail.  So 6.2 km on day 1 seemed both wise and doable.

Our hike on map 31 from km 64.7 to 70.9 would finish the map and that’s always a bonus.  We met at 9 a.m. and were on the trail by 9:30.  A portion of the hike was along busy highway 26 with traffic whizzing past us at what seemed like break neck speeds.  The guide book had also stated “no dogs were allowed” as a few kilometers of the trail wound through a farmer’s field and we were warned to give any cattle, a wide berth.  Now I’m a city girl, not keen on big animals, but Carol has her own horse and rides regularly so big domestic animals don’t scare her.   However what we found was an entire herd (20+ cows and 4 or 5 new calfs) blocking the trail.  They were enjoying the shade:

Cows on trail

I was jittery but Carol forged ahead without a backward glance.  Although I was trailing a safe distance behind,  I did hear her mutter “damn I wish they had told us about the llama”.   The llama was guarding the cows and was irritated we were approaching the herd:


As the llama approached I backed up among the rocks.  I’m not sure if I thought they couldn’t climb!  Carol on the other hand coaxed the llama away from me with a granola bar and advised me to hike to the top of the ridge away from both the cows and their guard llama.  She calmly followed a few minutes later once the cows and the llama had lost interest in us.

We had seen posters on the trail for a lost speckled heifer and were on the lookout:

Missing Cow

but hadn’t expected an entire herd to be lazing in the shade along the trail.

There were some large rock formations at the top of the escarpment that made the hike enjoyable and worthwhile even after the encounter with the llama and the portion along busy Highway 26.

Rock & Moss


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