Enjoying The Great Outdoors

 

Get outside! Choose from Amusement and Attractions or experience Ontario's best beaches. Take a Bicycling Tour or Rent a Bike, go Bird Watching, visit the Conservation Areas, go to a Drive-In Theatre (yes they still exist).  Get out and go Fishing or Horse Back Riding.  Take a Hay or Sleigh Ride. Visit the Natural/Ecological Attractions, take an Outdoor Adventure Tour, go Paddling or enjoy the amazing Provincial or National Parks.  Bruce Peninsula National Park is a 136 sq. km. park that protects a rugged limestone landscape and one of the largest remaining tracts of forest in Southern Ontario.  

You can also enjoy many smaller parks and Picnic areas or perhaps you want to go to an Adventure or Activity Park.  Interested in Photography or Landscape Painting?  Too slow you say?  Then why not visit the Racetrack or Speedway?  Too flat and smooth for you then why not put on the boots and go Rock Climbing.  For a more leisurely pace and to witness beauty in the making, take a tour of the Rural Gardens of Grey Bruce.  Enjoy Sports Facilities, Walking & Hiking Trails, Waterfalls and Water Sports & Activities.  Local Wilderness Guides and Outfitters are here to help make your trip more memorable and if you prefer to see how the upper-class wildlife lives be sure to visit one of their gated communities.  Yes, we even have zoos!  

The winter is a beautiful time to take advantage of Sports and other Activities.  Take advantage of the many Snowmobile Trails.  Grey Bruce has over 2,400 km (1,500 miles) of groomed trails. Bordered by Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, you can snowmobile to such great places as Sauble Beach, Bruce Peninsula, Walkerton, Owen Sound, Durham, and Beaver Valley. Collingwood provides some of the best Downhill Skiing/Snowboarding in Ontario.  Challenge yourself, walking mid air, 300 metres above Georgian Bay on a swaying bridge.  Marvel in the panoramic views 50 feet below your feet whilst walking amongst 200 year old trees. Feel the rush of adrenaline while racing through Grey County's backcountry in a 4X4 all terrain vehicles.  Other winter sports to enjoy include cross country skiing, snowshoeing and dog sledding.  

There is so much to experience outdoors in Grey and Bruce.

For more information on the following topics, visit the links below.

§     Bruce Peninsula National Park
Famous for the spectacular 20km. ribbon of Niagara Escarpment cliff, adjacent to the deepest part of Georgian Bay. The Bruce Trail follows much of this shore.

§     Beaches
With over 1,200 km of shoreline along Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, Grey and Bruce Counties have a beach for many types of beach lovers. Come and experience some of Ontario's best beaches.

§     Bruce Trail
Canada's oldest and longest footpath, the Bruce Trail provides the only public access to the magnificent Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The Bruce Trail is one of only twelve such reserves in all of Canada.

§     Flowerpot Island
Flowerpot Island is located 6.5 kilometers northwest of Tobermory (northern tip of the peninsula) and is part of Fathom Five National Marine Park. Famous for the two rock pillars or sea stacks on its eastern shoreline the 200 hectare island has 4.3 kilometers of well marked trails along this shore.

§     Lighthouses
Along the shoreline of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay or on a nearby island, more than 10 beacons still stand prominently each having added their own piece to the history books and today conjure up images of romance and adventure. Their beauty and charm are enjoyed today by many visitors

§     Waterfalls
Seven waterfalls and some of the best roads Grey Bruce has to offer! This ride will take you to such places as Walters Falls, Eugenia, Flesherton and Owen Sound. On this tour, you will weave in and around the Niagara Escarpment as you follow it to each unique waterfall.

§     Rural Gardens
There is no better way to unwind and forget about your hectic lifestyle than to visit the rural gardens of Grey Bruce. The Rural Gardens of Grey and Bruce are host to some of the most committed gardeners in Canada. These people are a dedicated group of both hobby and professional gardeners that welcome your visit.

Bruce Peninsula National Park

With 136 sq. km. of rugged limestone landscape and one of the largest remaining tracts of forest in Southern Ontario the Bruce Peninsula National Park is famous for the spectacular 20km. ribbon of Niagara Escarpment cliff, adjacent to the deepest part of Georgian Bay. The Bruce Trail follows much of this shore. You can experience countless lookouts, sea caves and car sized boulders. This area, along the cliffs is home to a fragile community of plants including white cedar trees. In these harsh conditions they grow slowly but continuously and are the oldest living plant life in Eastern North America...some are over 1,000 years old. On the east side of the park, along Lake Huron, you'll see a very different landscape with a gradual sloping shore, a perfect environment for viewing sunsets. At Singing Sands, you'll find a pancake beach, an excellent spot for wading and swimming. Several fragile dunes and wetland habitats are located here which are important refuges for plant life. Displays and brochures that interpret the natural and cultural heritage preserved within Bruce Peninsula National Park can be found at both the Cyprus Lake Campground office and the Diver registration office and if you have any questions, the park staff is there to help. This is a wonderful place to explore. Reservations well in advance of your trip are strongly recommended. The Peninsula is unique in Canada for its wide variety of wildflowers. This is because, for a relatively small bit of land, the Bruce has an unusually rich diversity of habitats, from the rugged cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment to flat, dry rock plains called alvars, to various types of swampy wetlands. One of the Peninsula's claims to fame is the profusion of species of orchids found here. There are over 60 species of tropical plants found in Ontario and approximately 43 are found on the Bruce Peninsula, likely due to the area's variety of habitats. Orchids aren't the only unusual plants on the Bruce. It is also home to about half the worlds dwarf lake iris, and most of Canada's stock of Indian plantain. The Peninsula supports more than 20 kinds of ferns, including the rare Northern Holly Fern. Some animals that make the park their home include chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, porcupines, snowshoe hares, skunks, white-tailed deer, snakes and frogs. Black bear, fox, fisher, martins and the Massasauga rattlesnake can also be found here but are not as commonly seen. The Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, an endangered species, is now reduced to a few scattered populations. This snake was once found throughout Southern Ontario.

 

Beaches

With over 1,200 km of shoreline along Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, Grey and Bruce Counties have a beach for many types of beach lovers. Come and experience some of Ontario’s best beaches.

The most popular traditional sand beach is Sauble Beach. Voted the number one beach in Ontario in May 2002 and declared one of the top ten beaches in Canada in 2004, Sauble Beach is a must stop for visitors. You will find over 11 kilometres of pure, golden “sugar” sand embracing the clean, warm waters of Lake Huron making this the ideal place to build sand castles. Sauble beach is “wide” making it perfect for volleyball – be sure to bring your own ball.

Kincardine has essentially two beaches or one beach split in the middle by the river and marina. Station Beach is the Southern most one and has a great landscaped boardwalk with benches and a gazebo. North of the marina is a small stretch of beach great for children. Tiny Tot Park, the Snack Bar, washrooms, Dunsmoor Park with a covered picnic area, the Rock Gardens, the Pavilion, and lots of shade trees add to the quaintness of this section of beach. You will find lots of parking at both beaches.

Port Elgin has a beautiful 10km fine sand beach.  The water is shallow and warm, ideal for families with young children.  Along the beach is a wheel chair accessible paved walk way.  Take a walk or relax and enjoy a “world famous sunset”.  The miniature steam train runs 5 times daily except Mondays.  Visit the flea market on Wednesdays and July through Labour Day local bands perform each day in the early evening.  You’ll find several beach shelters offering protection from the sun while enjoying the beach. Southampton beach features approximately 4 kms of unspoiled sandy beach.  Family Fun Nights are the order of the day each Friday in the sheltered picnic area. Swing sets dot the beach and, of course, kids (large and small) have to stop and try out each one!  Benches line the "boardwalk" for sunset viewing and star gazing. A Southampton Sunset is rated as one of the best in the World.

As you move up the Peninsula on the Lake Huron shoreline the landscape changes. Hidden among the Oliphant fishing islands are quiet secluded and very shallow beaches, perfect for exploring. At the top of the Peninsula, Singing Sands is a part of Bruce Peninsula National Park. Shallow water, public washrooms, picnic area, a boardwalk, rare wild orchids and trails appeal to the traditional beach lover, nature lovers and photographers!

The Georgian Bay shoreline provides some interesting beach experiences. The Grotto and Indian Head Cove are located within Bruce Peninsula National Park and are only accessible by hiking. They feature huge boulders and fractured limestone as a base and a sea cave. Further down the Peninsula at Cabot Head, shale beaches and large rock beaches dominate the shoreline. North of Lion's Head, table rocks warm the water and local folklore tells us tennis was once played on these rocks. There is a municipal sand beach and playground for the kids.

Hope Bay has a beach that seems more Maritime than Ontario and around the headland, Cape Croker Park is a mix of sand and rock but the towering Hope Bay bluff is what truly sets this beach apart from the rest. Christie Beach Conservation Area is located along the shore of Georgian Bay, east of Meaford and can be accessed via Highway 26.

There are a number of Conservation Areas within Grey County which offer scenic and inviting areas for visitors to enjoy the natural beaches and waterfalls.  Blue Mountain has a private beach along Nottawasaga Bay.  Nestled at the bottom of the Blue Mountains, you will find a beach in Thornbury, a small community offering year-round pleasures. Known as The City by the Bay, and The Scenic City, Owen Sound is a harbour town with a heritage tied to the commerce and culture of the Great Lakes and was recognized in 2004 as the Cultural Capital of Canada. Its natural setting features the limestone cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, valleys and waterfalls, beaches and parks.

On the shore of Georgian Bay, just west of the slopes of the Blue Mountains, Craigleith is easily visited via Highway 26 and is home to Northwind Beach, frequented by windsurfers, fishermen and swimmers.

Bruce Trail

Canada's oldest and longest footpath, the Bruce Trail provides the only public access to the magnificent Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The Bruce Trail is one of only twelve such reserves in all of Canada. 

The Bruce Trail runs from Tobermory (northern tip of the peninsula) south down along the eastern side of the peninsula.  The path is rugged and provides for many spectacular views of Georgian Bay as it winds it’s way south through Wiarton.  Running from Wiarton to Blantyre, about 100 km of trail passes through aspen and birch woods, offering glimpses of creatures ranging from turkey vultures to salamanders, and several spots where wildflowers carpet the trailside.  Other highlights of this portion of the trail include Bruce's Caves and Skinner bluffs.  The trail runs from Blantyrte to Craigleith.  This 79 km section of the trail offers fine views, mazes of rocky crevasses.  Every step you take offers beautiful scenery.  From Craigleith the trail works its way south for 59.1 km to Lavender passing through high bluffs and deep, wide valleys. 

A great way to learn more about the trail is to attend the Bruce Peninsula Hiking Festival and Art Show weekend, in October, hosted by the Peninsula Bruce Trail Club and Bruce Peninsula National Park in conjunction with Bruce Trail Day. The festival is a chance to discover the spectacular and diverse natural features of the Bruce Peninsula, and hike some of the most rugged and scenic stretches of the Bruce Trail.  Learn about Geology, Astronomy, Photography, Birds, Snakes, Flying Squirrel Sabrina, Flora and Fauna, Hikes, Aquatics, Native People’s use of Plants, Orienteering and more

 

Flowerpot Island

Flowerpot Island is located 6.5 kilometers northwest of Tobermory (northern tip of the peninsula) and is part of Fathom Five National Marine Park. Famous for the two rock pillars or sea stacks on its eastern shoreline the 200 hectare island has 4.3 kilometers of well marked trails along this shore.

Flowerpot Island is the only island in Fathom Five National Marine Park with facilities for the public. There are docks, a picnic shelter, washrooms and a beautiful system of hiking trails. For those visitors wanting to enjoy the true solitude of the island, there are also six campsites overlooking the waters of Beachy Cove.

From May to mid-October, weather permitting, tour boats take passengers throughout the day to the island from Little Tub Harbour in Tobermory. Arrange times of going and returning with the same vessel when you buy your tickets. It is important to remember that there is a day use fee collected on the island by park staff. There is no question that Flowerpot Island and the rock formations that gave its name are among Canada's most recognized and most popular natural attractions.

Visitors can reach one of the island's caves by taking a small side trail and set of stairs just past the large flowerpot. A viewing platform and a set of interpretive panels help the visitor to learn about island geology. Visitors are encouraged to visit the lighthouse on the island's northeast corner. The lighthouse was built on Castle Bluff in 1897. Four years later, a keeper's home was built down on the shore. In 1969, the lighthouse was replaced with an automated steel tower.

The Friends of Fathom Five, a volunteer organization, maintains the two lighthouse keepers' homes, gardens, walkways and a viewing platform overlooking Georgian Bay. The site is staffed by volunteers who greet and welcome visitors.

Flowerpot Island has something of interest for everyone. For the naturalist, it's the flowers, the geology and the wildlife. Families discover experiences that everyone, from the very young to the elderly, can share. Visiting a cave and hiking the trails provides adventure for others. The Flowerpot Island experience means something different to everyone.

Plan to spend an entire day on the island, accessible only by tour boat. Bring a lunch, visit the museum in the Lightkeeper's home, hike the trails, explore the cave, climb to the observation deck, and swim in the cool, clear waters of Georgian Bay.

Lighthouses

Along the shoreline of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay or on a nearby island, more than 10 beacons still stand prominently each having added their own piece to the history books and today conjure up images of romance and adventure. Their beauty and charm are enjoyed today by many visitors but in the past they served a necessary, practical function for mariners. At times the waters of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay can be treacherous and many sea vessels would rely on these beacons and even with their aid, many ships did not make it.  Many of these ships still lay resting on the bottom of the lake or bay.

Stretching from Point Clark in the south to Tobermory in the north, an approx. 450 kilometres (280 miles) trip, the Lighthouse Tour features 15 distinctive lighthouse and marine heritage sites along the shores of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay for you to explore. Plan to spend 3 to 7 days and tour the scenic communities surrounding each site.  

Point Clark Lighthouse 
Located about 18 km south of Kincardine, it’s easy to get to.  One of the first “imperial towers” to flash its light. Built of limestone in the 1850s from nearby Inverhuron, the Point Clark lighthouse stands 26.5 metres (80 feet) high and is open for tours during the summer. The view from the top is spectacular and worth the climb!  Group tours are available in May and June...please phone ahead!  
From here, take Highway 21 north to Kincardine.

Kincardine Lighthouse 
Built into the Kincardine harbour hillside in 1881 to service a busy fishing and local salt shipping industry, this octagonal wooden tower is the only lighthouse ‘downtown’. The Kincardine lighthouse sits 24.4 metres (74 feet) tall, aloft a two-story keeper’s house.  The three levels of the lighthouse are joined by steep, straight, almost perpendicular staircases making a total of 69 steps.  
From here you’ll head north to the Bruce Power Energy Centre.   Be sure to stop and get a picture of the giant wind turbines and stop into the visitor’s centre.  You can stop at MacGregor Point Provincial Park and continue on to Port Elgin to do some more exploring. They have a great beach and a miniature Steam Train for those young at heart.
From Port Elgin, you’ll move on to Southampton.

Range Lights of Southampton
The Imperial Tower on Chantry Island warned ships of the surrounding dangers, while 3 smaller unmanned “Range Lights” guided mariners safely into the harbour. Built in 1903, the front and back range lights on the Saugeen River are lined up by sailors entering the harbour and staying on course until the river channel is reached.
You can see Chantry Island along the way - follow the light. Check out the Big Flag on High Street and book your boat cruise to get out on the island (Weather and Birds) permitting. There are a couple of Range Lights down by the main harbour.  Park and take a tour of the Bruce County Museum.
From Southampton you will continue north toward Sauble Beach on Bruce Road 13 and is nice and twisty. No Lighthouses in Sauble but you may want to stop for a photo and to dig your toes in the sand. Make sure to get a picture underneath the “Welcome to Sauble Beach” sign right downtown. You’ll continue north all the way to Wiarton and head toward Cape Croker.

Cape Croker lighthouse
Originally built in 1898 the Cape Croker lighthouse was soon replaced in 1902 with the present octagonal lighthouse constructed of reinforced concrete, the first of its kind in the area. From top to bottom it measures 18 metres (53 feet). Cape Croker is home to the Chippewas of Nawash. The lighthouse is not available for tours but can be photographed.
From here you’ll be heading to Lions Head.

Lions Head Lighthouse 
See if you can spot the 'Lions' Head' in the rocks immediately east of the lighthouse.  Set beneath the majestic Niagara Escarpment, this little lighthouse has endured more hardship than the mariners it guided!  Today a 30' white clapboard lighthouse sits proudly at the location of the original.  The design for the lighthouse came from the original plans for the original lighthouse.  
Next you’ll cross the peninsula from Georgian Bay to Lake Huron you’ll head towards Stokes Bay.

Lyal & Knife Island
Rocky shoals and islands in the Stokes Bay area made marine navigation very difficult. In 1885, a 16 metre (50 foot) wooden lighthouse was erected on the west shore of Lyal Island. The light was eventually automated in 1959 and replaced by the present day steel navigational tower.
Additional navigational aids were required in these waters and a range light was built on nearby Knife Island. The Knife Island range light still stands but a steel tower light is in use today. Access to these sites is best suited to the experienced canoeist or kayaker. The relatively shallow waters of Stokes Bay can provide for a great daytrip (weather permitting).
Next stop is Cabot Head Lighthouse heading north east along Dyers Bay. You’ll need to cross about 16 km of gravel roundtrip to get to the lighthouse.

Cabot Head Lighthouse
Perched 80 feet above Georgian Bay, the Cabot Head Lighthouse has guided ships for over 100 years. Named in honour of famous explorer, John Cabot, this site offers spectacular views of the Niagara Escarpment and Georgian Bay.  Be sure to visit the lighthouse museum and walk the interpretive trails.
Next you’re off to the northern tip of the peninsula, Tobermory.  You will pass the Bruce Peninsula National Park on your way up. Make sure you stop in and do the 2-hour day-hike out to the "Grotto", one of the area's biggest natural phenomena. 
Big Tub Lighthouse
Originally constructed in 1885 for a cost of $675, the Big Tub Lighthouse played an important role guiding ships into the harbour from the sometimes-treacherous waters of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The original structure was later replaced by the six-sided, 14 metre (43 foot) wooden lighthouse that is seen today.  Watch for scuba divers just off the point, as this location is a very popular diving destination. The number of shipwrecks offshore testify to the dangers of these waters. These waters have become a mecca for scuba divers from all over the world.  
When you’re done here, you will want to board a tour board out to Flowerpot Island and around Cove Island to see the last two remaining Lighthouses.  

Cove Island Lighthouse
One of the most dramatic structures on the Bruce Coast, the Cove Island Lighthouse has been marking passage between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay since 1858. Standing 90' above the water, it is 80' in height from its base to the centre of its light.  The lighthouse can only be viewed by private boat, the Chi Cheemaun car ferry or by tour boat out of Tobermory. Access to the island is restricted.

Flowerpot Island Lightstation
Rich in history, like the sea stacks along the shoreline, the Flowerpot Island Lightstation was built on Castle Bluff in 1897. Four years later, a keeper's home was built down on the shore. In 1969, the lighthouse was replaced with an automated steel tower.
The Friends of Fathom Five National Marine Park, concerned about preserving the marine history of the island, have restored the main buildings.  Plan to spend an entire day on the island, accessible only by tour boat. Bring a lunch, visit the museum in the Lightkeeper’s home, hike the trails, explore the cave, climb to the observation deck, and swim in the cool, clear waters of Georgian Bay.  The century-old lightkeeper's house is open for tours, cold drinks and souvenirs.

Waterfalls

Seven waterfalls and some of the best roads Grey Bruce has to offer! This ride will take you to such places as Walters Falls, Eugenia, Flesherton and Owen Sound. On this tour, you will weave in and around the Niagara Escarpment as you follow it to each unique waterfall.
Begin your tour at Grey Roots:  Your Heritage and Visitor Centre near Inglis Falls and then follow the scenic Waterfall Tour through forested uplands and across valley floors. 

These special places are often just a short drive or hike from busy roads. Whether in Owen Sound or rural areas, all have scenic settings.   Visit all 7 waterfalls on the 150 km self-guided driving tour.  Stay a night and experience small town hospitality at its best.  
Eugenia Falls
If you've never stood at the top of a waterfall, for a droplet-eye view down the gorge, Eugenia Falls will take your breath away. Plunging into Cuckoo Valley, the Beaver River drops 23 metres over the Niagara Escarpment.  Located just off Grey County Road 13, at Eugenia this is one of the highest in Eastern Canada.  

Hoggs Falls
Considered one of the areas best-kept secrets, the waters of the Boyne River tumble seven metres in this woodland setting.  Hoggs Falls are tucked away a mere two-minute walk from the Lower Valley Road near Flesherton. Watch carefully; the only entrance markings are two yellow posts on the north side of the road. Roadside parking only.
Indian Falls
Almost inside a city, Indian Falls are in Sarawak Township, at the northwestern edge of Owen Sound. A one-kilometre walk through Indian Falls Conservation Area leads through ferns, trees and wildflowers. The horseshoe-shaped falls drop to a quiet pool before Indian Creek flows on to empty into Owen Sound. Look for Conservation Area sign directing you to the parking area.

Inglis Falls
Like many falls in one, the Sydenham River cascades over limestone shelves of an 18-metre cliff that is part of the Niagara Escarpment in the southeastern part of Owen Sound. Viewed from any angle, Inglis Falls gives a panorama of rock, water and ruralscapes that are truly spectacular in any season. Remnants of a nineteenth-century gristmill are reminders of the power in this falling water, as used by Peter Inglis. Within the Inglis Falls Conservation Area are picnic facilities, washrooms, and a seasonal gift shop, all accessible from Highways 6 & 10. Paid parking on location.

Jones Falls
Seen from the Bruce Trail, or glimpsed from Highway 21 heading west from Owen Sound, Jones Falls cascade 12 metres over the Niagara Escarpment. A one-kilometre walking trail leads through the Pottawatomi Conservation Area to the falls. This is another spot that offers year-round splendour for photographers Located on the west side of the city of Owen Sound. 

McGowan Falls
Within the Durham Conservation Area, McGowan Falls takes the name of an early miller who used the waterpower of the Saugeen River at this site. Popular with anglers, the falls here are more gradual than some, yet scenic in their setting of cedars. McGowan Falls are portrayed in one of several murals that adorn buildings in downtown Durham. 
 
Walter's Falls
Although this waterfall is on private property, there is a viewing platform where Walter's Creek plunges 14 metres in the heart of the village. Named for the pioneer John Walter and his family, the picturesque settlement grew around its waterpower, which continues to provide energy for a gristmill.  Home to new accommodation.

 

Rural Gardens

There is no better way to unwind and forget about your hectic lifestyle than to visit the rural gardens of Grey Bruce. The Rural Gardens of Grey and Bruce are host to some of the most committed gardeners in Canada.  These people are a dedicated group of both hobby and professional gardeners that welcome your visit. 

Admittance to the gardens is either by set fee or a recommended donation of $2.00 per visitor; watch for the yellow and blue Daisy signs. Visiting hours include a range of regular, scheduled hours as well as 'by appointment only' arrangements.

Some locations offer plant sales and the sale of organic products, while others have art pieces.  All gardens promote serenity and peacefulness.  Reservations must be made prior to visitation and nominal fees may apply.

The rural garden tour has been put together as a form of membership with members forming the regional tour, entitled “Rural Gardens Grey Bruce”.  Members who are a part of the rural gardens tour are identified by their blue sign with a yellow daisy on location. 

 

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