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Ross McLean's Top Ten in "The Bruce"


Ross is an example of a number of Bruce Trail volunteers that are "movers and shakers" - they make it happen. He has helped the Peninsula and Sydenham Bruce Trail Clubs in their endeavors to move the trail to its optimum route. During the winter of 2010-2011 Ross authored a story of trail achievements in the Bruce over the past 30 years and that story is available free-of-charge electronically from Ross - check the executive list for his email address.

Ross McLean

To quote Ross, "More than three decades ago I discovered the Bruce Peninsula and its Trail. At that time I was a member of the Caledon Hills Bruce Trail Club which had adopted the Lion’s Head Club
when its membership shrunk to one local member, Ilse Hanel. As she grew older she could no longer look after its trail maintenance and needed assistance. I came north with the Caledon Hills Trail Director Ernie Painter and a team of volunteers for a late May weekend. We camped at Hope Bay and much of our work focused on the Reed’s Dump area which had recently been trashed by a spring bush party. I discovered both the beauty of The Bruce but also the volunteer help that was necessary to preserve the Trail. I was hooked by the challenge and the opportunity."

Below Ross has provided us with his "Top Ten in The Bruce". If you are looking for some great walks with lots of flora, fauna, geology and history, here are the ones he would take you on as a hike leader.


... a very subjective list, but it includes places to which I would take guests, or visitors to the Bruce in order to showcase its most spectacular features ... Ross

  1. Flowerpot Island > To me it is worth a full day. The downside is the cost of boat transportation and park admission. The upside is the geology, the flora (calypso orchids about the first week of June) and the human history of the light station. Walk all the trails. [Location of Flowerpot Island via Google Maps - Note that Flowerpot Island is part of the Fathom Five National Marine Park of Canada. Map of Flowerpot Island. For transportation to Flowerpot Island check]

  2. The Bruce shoreline in from the Cyprus Lake entrance > Go down the Horse Lake Trail to the shoreline, and then walk west on the Bruce Trail past Indian Head Cove and the Grotto to the Marr Lake Trail. Take it back to the Head of Trails (where you parked). The Bruce Trail Reference (guidebook) used to call this section the most spectacular kilometre along the entire Trail. Plan on a half day; there is that much to see. [Approximate location of parking in the Bruce Peninsula National Park.]

    km 145 2

    km 145 3


  3. Devil’s Monument (south of Dyer’s Bay) > There is better parking at the southern end (Cape Chin North access.) It is a 4 km loop but at the Monument go down to the beach and walk it, especially to the north. Certainly you could spend a half day in the area. If time, the Cottrill Lake Side Trail to the north is worth adding to your outing. [Approximate location of parking.]

  4. Gun Point > It is spectacular. The various side trails make a number of options. For your first visit, park at the lot on Moore St. (Lions’ Head; east from the hospital) You can go out to the lookout and return; in addition to the views, there are fascinating potholes. Or you could continue on to McKay’s Harbour and then head inland via the side trails that return you to the lookout. For a more strenuous day, do the full loop, returning via the Isle Hanel Side Trail. But that is a tough 16 km loop. [Approximate location of parking.]

    Lions Head 2

    Lions Head 3

  5. Cape Dundas Loop > Park at the far end of Scenic Caves Road; there is a small parking lot there. Take the Pease Side Trail that drops down to the water at the northeast corner of Cape Dundas. If time, continue west to the Chris Walker Nature Reserve and then backtrack. Continue south on the main Trail which will climb back up the Escarpment and return you to the parking lot. The loop is about 6 km, and with stops to view the scenery, you could spend a half day here. [Approximate location of parking.]

    May 077

    May 080

    Barrow ST

  6. Jackson's Cove > From the parking area at the top of the hill down to Jackson’s Cove, head west on the main Trail to the Jackson’s Cove Lookout Side Trail. It is one of my favourite viewing points along the whole Trail. Return via the inland blue-blazed side trail. This loop could be completed in not much more than one hour. [Approximate location of parking.]

  7. Hope Bay Nature Reserve > It is not that well known, but has great wildflower viewing as well as caves and potholes for the geologists. To make a loop, you could start at the south end of Cathedral Drive and make the loop to the southeast with the Don Irish Side Trail, the main Trail and the Jack Poste Side Trail. In early to mid May, the trilliums can be spectacular. That can be a two hour loop. [Approximate location of parking.]

  8. Jones Bluff (on the Cape Croker Reserve) > This 7 km loop has relatively little elevation change, and thus is easy hiking. The contour lines on the map suggest the great views. Certainly three hours is enough time. [Approximate location of parking - note that Boundary Road may be called Hope Bay Road on some maps.]

  9. Rural Rocks > It is northwest of Wiarton and is a gem. The owners are good friends; if you want any perennials for your garden, drive in and mention my name to Tom and Dee. It will not get you any discounts, but it should generate a friendly smile. The loop is about 4 km, but its special feature is the first km from the parking area through a section often called the “Wonderland of Rocks”. The erosion was caused by Lake Algonquin, right after the last glaciers left the area. Children especially love to play among all the weird shapes. Squeeze through “Obese Individual’s Agony.” [Location]

  10. Spirit Rock > It is located just north of Wiarton on the east side of highway 6. From the parking area, the side trail goes south to the rock which generated the Indian legend. Just to the north of the parking area is the Corran, with its ruins of one of the “castles” built along the Escarpment. In the spring, the daffodils left over from the palatial estate are beautiful. The loop trail is only 2.6 km; the whole area can be visited in not much more than an hour. To me it is a good introduction to the geological and human history of the Bruce. [Entrance to Spirit Rock | location of Spirit Rock Conservation Area]

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