out of focus woman hiking the bruce trail with is in focus in the background

Backcountry hiking doesn’t get better than this

You’ve seen the photos and now you want to see it for yourself.

Chances are if you are reading this, then you’ve already initiated the adventure. These steps will guide you in preparation for a safe excursion through the wild backcountry of the peninsula. An experience that will undoubtedly peak your senses, and leave you with an abundance of glorious moments to be shared.

out of focus woman hiking the bruce trail with is in focus in the background
The Bruce Trail

How to Travel Safely on the Bruce Trail

Keep in mind at all times, when on the Bruce Trail, cell service can be non-existent. The trail is remote and you will be entering a wilderness context, out of reach of amenities. Planning can go a long way to help make sure you are well supplied and prepared for the trail. No matter how experienced you are, unexpected things can happen. If you are new to backcountry hiking, learning from the experience of others can be a valuable source of information that can help you frame a sense of what you can expect. If possible, join an experienced trail user on your first outing. Before you leave, download the Whats3WordApp on your phone.


1. Travel companions.

The vistas are the most vibrant when shared. It’s also much safer to travel with a companion than to hike alone. If anything happens, at least one person can go get help. More people involved from the get go, means more cooperation in planning and pre-hike preparations, helping make sure all the boxes are checked.

2. Guidelines

Picking up a map of the trail systems in advance can help you visualize your trek. Identify the location you are aiming for, and measure the distances involved. Is it a loop? Any side trails? Other points to consider are parking lots and access points, and closest amenities. The Bruce Trail Guide has it all, and a valuable aide for anyone hitting the trails.

3. Gearing up

woman with a backpack on a hiking trail walking away from the camera
Cape Chin | Lion’s Head

The old adage “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing” can be sound advice for the backcountry explorer on the Peninsula. Proper footwear is essential and cannot be overstated. For clothing, a layered system works well. Dress for comfort, and have an insulated layer and waterproof layer just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse. A small daypack will be a must to keep it all snug.

Other essentials to have stored in your daypack with you on trail are:
1. First aid kit
2. Navigation: Map, compass.
3. Sun Protection: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a thin long sleeve shirt is a good idea.
4. Headlamp or flashlight.
5. Lighter, or matches.
6. Water. Means of water filtration or purification if you are planning on a longer excursion.
7. Nutrition: Make sure to have sufficient snacks and extra meals, in case you get held up by unexpected circumstances.
8. Don’t forget your camera.

Contact Suntrail Outfitters SFA at Hepworth on your way up the Peninsula. They know their gear and the trail inside out, and can help you plan and outfit your pack.

4. Itinerary and Emergency planning.

It’s always a good idea to let someone outside your group know where you plan on hiking, and when you expect to be off trail. It’s a good move to have someone looking out for your safe return. If you happen to make changes along the way, update them so they know what to expect. Using your map, identify your nearest access points, and check for cell service every so often so you know where you can come back to find reliable communication if needed.

5. Stick to the trail.

Woman backcountry hiking, following a rope guide on the Bruce Trail
The Bruce Trail

The Bruce Trail has blazes that are easily identifiable and are well groomed and suited to guide you through the backcountry. Should anything happen to you along the way, it will be much easier for assistance to find you on the trail. It leads to breathtaking places and covers all the gems. You won’t be disappointed.

6. Be ready to turn back.

Finally, always keep in mind the trail will be here waiting for you. When on trail, listen to your body and how your group is doing. Ignoring signs your body needs a break can lead to trouble. Keep an eye on the forecast and the weather, in case things turn for the worse. If you don’t make it all the way to that vista you dreamed of, keep in mind that it isn’t going anywhere. It’s here quietly waiting for your return; another future adventure that lies ahead.

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Learn all about visiting Bruce, Grey, and Simcoe counties here.

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