Looking to hit the trails this season? There are so many breathtaking trails to enjoy in Canada. If you’re looking to get off the beaten path and discover new hikes, the Bruce Trail in southern Ontario is one not to miss.
The Bruce Trail is the oldest and longest marked footpath in Canada. It spans more than 890 km along the wondrous Niagara Escarpment, from Niagara to Tobermory —and that’s just the main trail. There are also over 400 km of associated side trails that are often less explored but offer wonders that just can’t be overlooked.
Although well known as a long-distance trail, the Bruce Trail has plenty of day hiking options. We’ve picked some of our favourite hidden gems here.
Follow the map links in the descriptions below to download a map from the Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC). Proceeds from map sales support the BTC’s work to maintain the Bruce Trail and preserve land along the Niagara Escarpment. Learn more at brucetrail.org
To make these hikes even more enjoyable, you’ll want to have the right gear. SAIL has everything from hiking boots and moisture-wicking socks to lined pants, hiking sticks and lightweight backpacks. That way, you’ll be able to go further and enjoy all that nature has to offer.
Ease into It
If you’re new to hiking or new to the Bruce Trail, start with routes that will ease you into the whole experience, like these forest strolls.
Short Hills Provincial Park, St. Catharines
(Bruce Trail, Niagara section, Map 3)
The Bruce Trail and the Black Walnut Side Trail form a smooth 5.3 km hike through Short Hills Provincial Park that has everything you want: gently rolling terrain, several streams and a luscious Carolinian forest. Take the time to soak it all in.
Louth Conservation Area, St. Catharines
(Bruce Trail, Niagara section, Map 4)
For a shorter trek through nature, this loop along the Bruce Trail and the Louth Side Trail won’t disappoint. Hike through 2.3 km of lush and rocky hardwood forest and be rewarded with the soothing calmness of its deep river valley.
Take in the Escarpment Vistas
For a slow ascent into nature, take on some of the more challenging Bruce Trail hikes that will take you to the heights of the Niagara Escarpment. The views are sure to be spectacular!
Mount Nemo, Burlington
(Bruce Trail, Iroquoia section, Map 10)
Although more a plateau than a mountain, Mount Nemo offers fantastic views from the top of the Escarpment – revealing faraway city skylines from your forested cliff-top vantage point. Plus, as you explore the 3 km loop made by the Bruce Trail and the Mount Nemo Side Trail, you’ll experience all the splendor the trail has to offer: the deep rock crevices, a majestic hardwood forest and old-growth cedars that have been around for more than 1,000 years.
Malcolm Bluff Shores, South Bruce Peninsula
(Bruce Trail, Peninsula section, Map 36)
There is nothing quite like looking out over the shining blue waters of Georgian Bay from high atop the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment. You’ll get plenty of opportunities to do so in the Bruce Trail Conservancy’s Malcolm Bluff Shores Nature Reserve, where the Bruce Trail follows the cliff line for many kilometres.
Discover Interesting Rock Formations
For all those interested in a little geology and a lot of natural beauty, these Bruce Trail hikes are for you. Check out the fascinating way nature takes its course.
Limehouse Conservation Area, Georgetown
(Bruce Trail, Toronto section, Map 12)
Rocks are the stars of this short loop hike. You’ll see cracks in the dolostone sprouting huge cedars. You’ll squeeze through a crevice at the “Hole-in-the-Wall”. You’ll even pass the remnants of a lime kiln operation from the 1800s where rock was literally cooked to provide lime for the construction industry.
Devil’s Monument, Dyer’s Bay
(Bruce Trail, Peninsula section, Map 40)
Get up close with a 14 m tall ‘sea-stack’ along the shoreline of Georgian Bay. As you descend past this rocky monument towards the beach, you can imagine how this towering pillar was formed 5,000 years ago by erosive wave action when lake levels were higher.
Relax by a Waterfall
Hundreds of waterfalls can be found along the Niagara Escarpment and explored along the Bruce Trail. Remember: stay safe at these beautiful destinations by staying on the trail.
Great Falls, Waterdown
(Bruce Trail, Iroquoia section, Map 9)
Experience the calming and soothing effects of Great Falls from a lovely lookout at its top. As you descend into Grindstone Creek valley, enjoy the cool of the creek and the shade of the deep forest where the sounds of the falls will stay with you.
Hogg’s Falls, Beaver Valley
(Bruce Trail, Beaver Valley section, Map 26)
Explore these secluded falls and the surrounding hills of the Beaver Valley in this short looping hike. You may find yourself wishing to linger at the wide, shimmering curtain of Hogg’s Falls as it tumbles 7 m over the rock face, but make sure to take in the Hogg’s Falls Lower and Upper Side Trails for the full experience.
With hundreds of access points, varied terrain and a network of side trails, the Bruce Trail offers so many ways to discover the natural beauty of the Niagara Escarpment. And SAIL is with you all the way! Our wide range of hiking clothes, bags and boots will take you further while keeping you dry, comfortable and ready for more.
SAIL is a proud supporter of the Bruce Trail Conservancy and its work to maintain this wonderful footpath and preserve more Niagara Escarpment landscape to explore.