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Official Tourism Website of Bruce County, Ontario, Canada

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15 Places to Explore the Outdoors

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The Best Places to Get Outside in Bruce County
The Best Places to Get Outside in Bruce County

Bruce County encompasses a wide variety of outdoor spaces, ranging from tranquil forest trails in the interior, long beaches along the lakeshore, as well as the famed clifftops and bluffs of the Peninsula region.

It features a variety of explorations for visitors and locals alike, looking to find quality time shared outdoors, anytime of year. Here's an easy guide to 15 places to explore the outdoors across the three regions of Bruce County. Some are closer to town and some are a little further up and off the beaten path.

Deep in the heart of the Bruce County Interior
Deep in the heart of the Bruce County Interior

The Apple Rail Trail

This 2.6km trail is near the Bruce Botanical Food Gardens and leads you along a leisurely stroll through a heritage flower garden and apple tree plantation before it merges with the former CN Rail Trail to the Ripley-Huron Community Centre. Great for hiking and biking.

Greenock Swamp and Schmidt Lake

Ontario's single largest forested wetland, approximately 8,094 hectares in size and home to unique carnivorous pitcher plants, the swamp is near the historic village of Cargill. A short walking trail from the road leads you to a floating boardwalk at the Schmidt Lake lookout. The swamp has a rich history, and was once well known for its old growth white pine stands before the logging days. If you are visiting between the months of May and August, take a tour of the Greenock at https://visitwalkerton.com/explore/greenock-swamp-tours/274/ and experience the enchanting history of the area.

The Saugeen River Trail

An easy trail 5.5 km long with loops, just outside the town of Kincardine. Ideal for walking, cycling, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing, the forested trail meanders alongside the scenic Saugeen River. A great option for a solitary bike ride, or taking the family out on a nature walk.

Paddling the Saugeen River

With long stretches of calm water, the Saugeen is ideal for beginner paddlers, and a great option for family outings. Launch at one of many well marked access points, starting at Hanover Park. The Saugeen weaves across the county for 102 km before emptying into Lake Huron, at Southampton, providing multiple options for future floats downstream.

McBeath

Spend the night at McBeath Campground at McBeath Conservation Area, along the Saugeen river. This paddle access only campsite makes for a great overnighter getaway along the river just outside of Paisley. Exploring the artistic village at the end of your paddle is a must - the town is alive with colourful murals that detail life in the river, heritage trails, as well as eclectic shops and places to dine.

Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area

Further downstream, this family and horse camping area has 15km of rugged trails that run through a mature Sugar Maple forest along the Saugeen River. The trail leads to a scenic view of the Saugeen River and the clay banks famously known as the 'Bluffs'. The park is 4km north of Paisley and has approximately 200 camping sites that accommodate both tent and trailer users, as well as seasonals. The unique horse camping sites are spacious and provide ample room for equestrians and their steeds to find peace and quiet in the great outdoors. The Bluffs open the last weekend in April and close following the Thanksgiving weekend.

Along The Lakeshore
Along The Lakeshore

Stoney Island Conservation Area

A day-use park nearby Tiverton, with over 6 km of multi-use trails suitable for beginner to intermediate in difficulty and open year round. Maintained by the Kincardine Ski Club, this is a popular park in the winter with groomed trails for snowshoeing and skiing.

Inverhuron Provincial Park

This historical provincial park provides a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities, including paddling, mountain biking and hiking, as well as fishing and swimming. The park closes for the winter season near mid October and reopens around mid May. With a human history dating back thousands of years, the forested dunes and coastal landforms within the park are a part of a rare ecosystem unique to the Great Lakes region. The Huron shoreline is the place to be for catching the sunset, while the trails that lead you there weave through a diverse habitat of rare plants and wetland ecosystems.

Macgregor Point Provincial Park

A natural coastal area with rare species such as spotted turtles, and black-crowned night herons, this all-season park spans seven kilometres along the coast of Lake Huron and located just south of Port Elgin. Visitors in winter can camp in yurts, crosscountry ski and ice skate on a 400 metre skating oval. Be sure to call ahead of time and reserve a yurt before you go.

Woodland Trails

Explore the North Shore Trail from Port Elgin to Southampton and catch a sunset at Miramichi Bay Sunset Lookout, or ride through forested paths along the Woodland Trail or Biener Trail. These trails are multi-use, including horses. Dogs are also welcome on these trails but must be kept on leash at all times.

Sauble Falls Provincial Park

The hub of outdoor exploration near Sauble Beach, Sauble Falls Provincial Park is a great staging area for getting out on your bike, hiking or strolling on nearby Sauble Beach. It's also the finish line for Rankin River Canoe Route. The park is a quiet place to rest outside, listen to the sound of the cascade and stroll along the river's edge.

The Peninsula
The Peninsula

Isaac Lake Management Area

Access the Rankin River Canoe Route by launching your Canoe at Isaac Lake, and explore the wetlands and natural habitat along the Rankin River toward Boat Lake. This area attracts a wide range of migratory birds passing through, as well as osprey and bald eagles. Surrounded by 11,000 hectares of wilderness, this area is a wetland wonderland. A slice of the great outdoors, less than 5 minutes off of hwy 6.

Spirit Rock

Explore the local history and see the impressive escarpment vistas overlooking Colpoys Bay at Spirit Rock. The short trail arrives at the site of the 'Corran' -The ruins of the home of Alexander McNeill, a Federal member of Parliament from 1881-1901. The trail continues a short distance to a spiral staircase that descends to the water's edge at the bottom of the Niagara Escarpment.

Cape Croker Park

Neyaashiinigmiing, meaning -point of land surrounded on three sides by water- is a small peninsula formation on the eastern shore of the Bruce Peninsula and home of Chippewas of Nawash First Nation. The park has 315 campsites tucked beneath the escarpment and boasts numerous trails, scenic views and immediate access to the Bay, making it the perfect place for an array of outdoor pursuits the whole family can enjoy. Learn about the rich Anishinaabe culture through programs offered by the park, including wilderness skills and nature programs.

Malcolm Bluff Trail

This 6.8 km loop trail of moderate difficulty, is located in the Malcolm Bluff Shores Nature Reserve and threads by a lake and overall some spectacular escarpment views overlooking White Cloud, Griffith and Hay islands. This trail is used for hiking and running, and is also dog friendly, though dogs must be on a leash at all times. The trail is open all year making snowshoeing a fine option for exploring the reserve in winter.

Smokey Head - White Bluff Provincial Park

White Bluff is the prominent bluff at the north end of Isthmus Bay. Three separate loop trails weave through the meadows and cedar forests along the top of the escarpment, ranging from 2-4 hours in length, with multiple look-outs along the trail, catch a view of the Lions Head bluffs across the Isthmus Bay, glowing red during a sunset. Park at the Bruce Trail lot on 40 Hills Road and follow the signs.

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Brought to you in partnership with

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