HIKING THE BRUCE TRAIL: DAY 2 – THE GROTTO AND INDIAN HEAD COVE

HIKING THE BRUCE TRAIL: DAY 2 – THE GROTTO AND INDIAN HEAD COVE

(This post is a continuation of HIKING THE BRUCE: Day 1 – Halfway Log Dump to Stormhaven)

 

With it’s stunning rock formations and Caribbean-like water, Bruce Peninsula National Park is one of the most beautiful destinations to hike to in Ontario.  Plus with it’s close proximity to Toronto and Parks Canada having free entrance for Canada 150, it’s one of the most popular.

 

My first attempt to park to get to the Grotto was unsuccessful (full story here) on Victoria Day long weekend.  Stupid on my part.  Obviously people would be swarming to this place to hang out on the first long weekend of nice weather in Canada.

 

So I got up early on Tuesday morning (with coffee of course) and headed to the Cyprus Lake parking lot for 7am.  Luckily and shockingly, there was only one other car there.  A.k.a. I had this extreme tourist destination pretty much to myself.

First glance at Indian Head Cove
This water though

After a quick 30 minute and well-marked hike, the trees opened up to expose the rock and bright blue colours of Georgian Bay.  You first end up at Indian Head Cove, which is NEXT to the Grotto (see map below).  A lot of people think this is the Grotto…. It’s not.  You have to head to the left for a couple of minutes to find it through more rocks and trees.

 

The Grotto

Once I found the Grotto, I  wondered “How the hell am I going to get down there?”.  There was no clear or safe path down, although on previous visits I have seen people inside the cave.

 

Thankfully, a man named Terry who works for Parks Canada was there to point me in the direction of “The Hole”.  The Hole is a safer and more direct way into the cave.  It’s a tad hard to find and I had to take my backpack off to squeeze through it.

“The Hole”

The squeeze through the claustrophobic hole was well worth it.  The Grotto opens up to a mesmerizing rock formation and green/turquoise waters.  Definitely one of those “I thought this only existed in magazines” moments.

Inside the Grotto

You can even swim here, however I wouldn’t recommend that until July/August. Even then it can be chilly!

 

I finished my coffee on the rocks overlooking the bay and soaked in the beautiful morning.  If there’s one road trip you should plan in Ontario it should be this one.

Lots of hiking love,

Mary Anne

 

(Find out more about Bruce Peninsula National Park here)

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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HIKING THE BRUCE TRAIL: DAY 1 – HALFWAY LOG DUMP TO STORMHAVEN

HIKING THE BRUCE TRAIL: DAY 1 – HALFWAY LOG DUMP TO STORMHAVEN

Yes.  This is in Ontario.  More specifically, that crystal blue water is Georgian Bay in Bruce Peninsula National Park along the Bruce Trail.

 

This is my favourite spot to hike in Ontario.  I remember spending time in the park as a child with my family as we would drive up to Tobermory to take the Chi-Cheemaun (ferry) over to Manitoulin Island.  I more recently rediscovered the park 2 years ago with Vicky and my BFF since grade 9 Steph.

 

There are some places you go to and think “wow, I HAVE to come back and spend more time here”.  The Bruce is one of those special places.

How is this even Ontario?

This trip came about last minute.  I was spending a girls weekend near Barrie followed by a visit to my parents in Southwestern Ontario afterwards.  I was so close to The Bruce Peninsula that I couldn’t NOT visit (it’s a solid 8-10 hour drive from Ottawa on a normal day).  I looked at Airbnb and booked a private room at The Fitz Hostel in Lion’s Head (about 30mins + drive to the park).

Picture courtesy of The Fitz Hostel

The holiday Monday morning I left the cottage and drove to the hostel, dropped my stuff off and drove to Cyprus Lake campground to hike to The Grotto and Indian Head Cove.  However when I pulled up around 2:30pm, I was told about some new timed parking (explained better here) they had implemented and I had to come back at 5pm which meant my hiking time was cut in half.  Instead of waiting till 5 and wasting precious hiking time, I referred to my trusty map and drove to the Halfway Log Dump parking lot.

Let’s be real: Halfway Log Dump does not sound like an attractive place to hike.  But even with cloudy skies and chillier temps it turned out to be fantastic afternoon.  I had the mindset going into the hike of “we’ll see what happens and how far I get” with a turnaround time of 6pm.

Maps are important!

With map in hand I blazed along at a quick speed making great time on the dirt trail.  At one point you have the option to stay on the Bruce Trail or to follow the rocky coastline…guess which one I chose?

White Rocks and Crystal Blue Water along Georgian Bay
Cliffs are the bomb

Like everywhere else in Ontario the water was higher than normal along the shoreline.  At one point the only way I had to continue was to take my boots and socks off, pull up my leggings and go knee-deep in the freezing water to continue on.  These kids followed my very bad example.

Kids following my bad example of how to cross the water.

Eventually the knee-deep water turned into “you have to swim across this” water, so I headed back into the woods to find the trail again.  An hour and a half in I came across the campground Stormhaven (which sounds WAY COOLER than Halfway Log Dump).

 

At this point I spent some time checking out the campsites and the rocky beach.  I stacked some stones and set the timer 47 times to get this one picture.

I took my time heading back to my car the same way I came, and decided to get up early the next morning to explore my original plan of hiking to The Grotto.

 

With Lots of Hiking Love,

Mary Anne

 

Link to trail hiked: Halfway Log Dump

Where I stayed: The Fitz Hostel

This is the cutest and best little hostel I’ve ever stayed in.  Very clean, accommodating.

Where I Ate: Harvest Moon Organic Bakery

STOP HERE AND EAT EVERYTHING, SO CUTE AND DELICIOUS.

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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