The Camping Family

Exploring the Bruce Trail

Lion's Head in the distance
Lion's Head in the distance

Looking towards Lion’s Head©DuaneSonntag

We usually spend long weekends camping, this year we were invited to a cottage built by some camping friends. Part of the family would be in tents and 2 kids would be sleeping inside. It was kinda like glamping. The plan was to help our hosts  with some of the cottage building tasks and still fit in some paddling time, hiking and exploring.

Located just a few minutes north of Wiarton the Bruce trail actually runs along the cottages road where we were staying. Multiple trail accesses with in just a short walk or drive were at our finger tips. Having tripped in Cyprus Lake, Bruce Peninsula National Park we had good knowledge of the trail, but not much in terms of Bruce trail info further south of the Bruce National Park & the Tobermory terminus. We used maps from our Bruce Trail Reference guide, more information on obtaining your copy visit

Reed's Dump, fantastic cloud formations

Reed’s Dump, fantastic cloud formations ©Marian Sonntag

Our day hike began at trail access on Forty Hills Road, we estimated that we would like about 12 km along the cliffs before making our way to Reeds Dump side trail our lunch time destination, then take a side trail back out to loop around to the parking. The day started out sunny with a strong cold breeze blowing. The forest heated us up while the breathtaking lookouts to Lion’s Head in Isthmus Bay cooled us down. The White Bluff side trail was also a detour point in the 2017 Passport punch card. We had ordered passports when they were announced earlier in the season, their website above has more details on how. I should point out that the trail level difficulty on this stretch along White Bluff is difficult, while there are varying side trails that can cut down on the length and time there are multiple climbs and descents. To make the trail even more fun we quickly found out we were behind a trail volunteer painting blazes as part of the trail maintenance. Nothing some soap and water couldn’t take off later in the day. Thanks to all the volunteers for keeping this wonderful trail maintained! We made good time with the huge group we had, made up of 7 kids (mostly teens), 4 dogs and 4 adults to our lunch time spot. We chose to picnic at Reeds Dump is pretty rest area of cobble rocks with a pretty blue green shale mixed in.

Reed's Dump

Reed’s Dump May 2017 ©Duane Sonntag

After a brief rest and nice trail lunch of crackers, cheese, kielbasa & snacks we quickly packed up to continue on with our loop, now heading back to the vehicles. The cold wind coming off Georgian Bay was providing us with clear sunny skies, intermittent cloud formations. The trail back was unlike anything we have hiked further north along the Bruce trail. We meandered through a pretty hardwood forest that had a spectacular show of trillium’s in a variety of color white, pink and the coveted deep red.

Red Trillium

Red Trillium ©DuaneSonntag

After a short very enjoyable stroll through the forest the trail opens up to sprawling fields bordered by a hill of trillium’s. The trail was a double track cart path was easy to hike along all the while keeping our eyes peeled for wildlife in the fields. It would have been nice to spot a deer or a bear rolling in the tall grass but all we saw was a hawk, some crows and the happy chirp of the forest birds.  There are several loops and inter connecting side trails along this circuit, all very well marked.

Getting directions Bruce trail

Getting directions along the Bruce trail ©DuaneSonntag

We brought along our copy of the map #39 Cape Chin from the Bruce Trail Reference guide. It was an enjoyable day and we look forward to hiking it again when the waters might be warmer. Our trip distance in total with the side trails that we hiked was approximately 10.9 kilometers. 

Hiking thru the fields

Hiking thru the fields ©DuaneSonntag


The next day we had heard about a ladder on the trail and figured we would investigate without the dogs just in case they were unable to make the climb. The Hope Bay access is at the top of a steep hill, it affords stunning views down to the tropical looking waters and the cliffs on the opposite shores. A short hike at slowly climbs will lead you to a ladder, yes there really is a ladder. Secured to the rock face its quite sturdy although somewhat daunting, I can only imagine what it would be like to climb up or down with a loaded backpack thru hiking the trail.

Hope Bay trail ladder

Hope Bay trail ladder ©MarianSonntag

At the top of the ladder there is a rope railing and a yet another set of stairs to the top of the escarpment. The view thru the just blossoming trees was worth the climb! At the top the trail meanders through some pretty spectacular trillium forests. We were very fortunate to witness the sea of trillium’s in full bloom and even a deer bolt away after hearing us.  The trail winds around the edge of the escarpment with a few glimpses of Hope bay before turning towards Sydney Bay. We only hiked a few kilometers of this stretch as we hadn’t originally planned to go further than the ladder in our investigation. We used map #37 Hope Bay From the Bruce Trail Reference guide for this section. 

Take note***The Bruce trail visits several cliff lookouts, users are always responsible for their own safety. Wear proper clothing/footwear, take enough water/snacks, use appropriate maps and brush up on the trail blaze language. Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints. Do not count on cell coverage as it is not consistent along the trail. 

Bruce Trail App & Blaze

Bruce Trail App & Blaze@MarianSonntag

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