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Walking the Bruce Trail in Stages

Ontario Hiking Trail

Bruce Trail – Week One

Walking the Bruce Trail was a sudden decision. The Bruce Trail is 900 Km long and spans from Niagara Falls to Tobermory, Ontario. It can easily be done in stages but not so easily done all at once.

Have you ever been on a long-distance hike, I have, and let me tell you they can be exciting, fun, and dangerous if not prepared. I have walked the Camino Francis in Spain, at least 600 km of it anyway. That took me 3 years to plan. Then I walked with a group of ladies on the Camino Portuguese, that took me 1 year to plan.

So when last minute I decided to walk the Bruce Trail, you have to understand how skeptical my husband was. But two weeks ago we set out with another couple to start stage one.

Bruce Trail – Just the Facts!

It all began with a thought in 1959 to create a public footpath. The first Bruce trail committee meeting was held in 1960 and the opening of the trail was officially in 1967. The “Bruce” of the Bruce Trail refers to the Bruce Pennisula which the northern part of the trail passes through. The trail is 900 Km of the main trail and 400 km of side trails. The Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. It stretches from Niagara to Tobermory and provides the only continuous public access to the Niaraga Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

The Trail is overseen by the Bruce Trail Conservancy, which is a member-driven, volunteer-based charitable organization. It has Clubs designated along the trail in each stage and maintained by many, many volunteers. You can become a member of the Bruce Trail by going to the membership page of the website

Stage one

Start at the zero Km mark at Queenston Heights in Niagara falls, this is the beginning of your walk or it could be the end depending on where you start. I was sorta prepared the first day, only a short 7.2 km walk but I had my hiking shoes on, and good thing. It is a beautiful walk along the escarpment through a lovely wooded area. It has many hills and some are steep up and down so good shoes are important.

Bruce Trail
The starting point, Niagara Falls
Bruce Trail Hiking
Start of our Bruce Trail Hike

Do walk the Bruce trail in stages you need to be able to pick a starting and endpoint and then we drive in two cars drop off one car at the endpoint then drive to the starting point. This ensures that when you get to the end you have a ride to get back to your car.

Our first day took us about 2.5 hours to walk from Queenston Heights to Firemen’s Park. Hint: when parking at Firemens park, use the lower parking lot down the road. We learned the hard way and had to walk all the way up back to our car.

Trail Guide

So we borrowed a guide from a friend and it was a few years old but seemed to be pretty accurate, and really all we had to do was follow the white blaze marks on the trail. I do recommend getting the guide book. There are detours and reroutes that can and do happen, more on that later.

Make sure to check online to see if any routes have been changed or closed before you head out on your hike. This will definitely help with some backtracking.

You can also become a member of the Bruce Trail Conservancy and all money is to support the preservation and upkeep of the trail.

Bruce Trail Parking

Another perk to having the guide is it will show you parking locations to enter the bruce trail. Some of the parking lots are paid and some are not. On stage one, you will have to pay for parking at Queenston Heights. But you do not have to pay at Firemen’s Park.

Last-minute tips

There is nowhere to stop along this route to eat. So, make sure to bring some water and a snack.

There is also no washrooms along the way. But, there is a washroom when you get to Firemen’s park and it was very clean.

Bring a camera or a phone to take pictures, it is an amazing walk with many great photo ops.

When you get to the large pond at the end of this short stage, have a look for all the turtles that live there. This is also a good picnic spot.

Bruce Trail Photos

 

 

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