Day Trip on the Bruce Peninsula

It’s important to play hooky from real life once in a while. I pulled the boys out of school for the day and, together with my cousin Elanor who has been visiting all week, drove to Bruce Peninsula National Park for a day of exploring.

Much to my amazement, the boys had full-on tantrums when I informed them that they weren’t going to school and would spend the day exploring. (Apparently their friends are cooler than their mom, even at this young age.) But then I overheard four-year-old L. telling his older brother not to worry, that “adventures are way more funner than school.”

When they found a baby snake lying in the middle of the hiking trail, they immediately announced it was “the best day ever.” The snake was perfectly still, not moving even when I prodded it gently with a stick. At first I thought it was injured or dead, but soon after picking it up, it started to wiggle like mad; it must have been playing dead. The boys were over the moon. They had a new pet – a wild and active one at that – and coddled it for the rest of the hike.

Baby snake! It was also a great source of amusement to the group of Asian tourists following behind us on the trail. They all wanted pictures too.
Little boys are incapable of resisting the urge to climb anything.

The approach to Indian Head Cove never fails to leave me breathless. It is so unexpected, so stunning and rugged, the water so turquoise. I particularly love it in the off-season, when there are fewer tourists. Elanor was amazed by it: “I can’t believe this is in Ontario!” she gasped. It’s true – the water looks more Caribbean than typically Canadian.

Indian Head Cove at the Bruce Peninsula National Park
Indian Head Cove – with some brave (or insane) teenagers jumping in the frigid water on the other side!

We scrambled over the rocks, me trying not to nag the boys too much about being careful. They raced like little mountain goats over the crevices and boulders, elated with this unusual field trip. We squeezed through the tunnel that goes down to the famous Grotto, a cave with an underwater hole inside that glows bright blue, revealing the distant exit to Georgian Bay. (My brother has swum it many times, but you couldn’t pay enough to do it!) We picnicked on the rocks of the Cove, enjoying homemade bread, hummus, and crispy apples.


Elanor down at the opening of the Grotto
Picnic on the rock beach (me and baby M.)

It was glorious – except for the garbage that I could see everywhere. It’s hidden away, jammed in cracks and behind trees and rocks, but it’s still disappointingly present. How anybody in their right mind could contaminate such a spectacular place, I do not understand. There were plastic water bottles lying around, a smashed wine bottle, even a dirty disposable diaper. It was disgusting.

We left the National Park and headed for Lion’s Head, a small town on the east side of the Peninsula that I’ve never visited in all the years living here. We went in search of caves, but first stopped at a cute little 1960s-style diner and bakery called Rachel’s for a quick coffee, lemon square, and ice cream for the boys.

We hiked along a portion of the Bruce Trail, which runs right through Lion’s Head, and soon found William’s Caves along the side of the trail. They are impressive gaping mouths of rock that loom up out of nowhere. Signs warn hikers not to enter, so we merely approached the entrance and looked in, the boys begging me to go further.

The edge of the Niagara Escarpment along the Bruce Trail
Pretending to be hunters in the forest

Rain began to fall and we raced back to the car, arriving just in time. An older woman stood nearby, asking about our hike. She lives right near the trail and when I told her about the “Do Not Enter” signs, she scoffed. “What? Signs? Aw, I’m no citified person obsessed with safety. You have to take those kids in! The caves are wonderful. They go so far back, they’d love it.” I promised her we’d return another time, since the rain was now heavier and the boys were worn out from their trip.

We will be back. Our little road trip was an important reminder of what glorious sights there are in our own backyard, a short drive away. How lucky we are to live in this beautiful place.


3 thoughts on “Day Trip on the Bruce Peninsula

  1. Great pictures! Looks like you all had a fantastic time – and yes, boys can’t resist come things! 😀

    I’m visiting Canada for the first time later this year to meet my own sister in Toronto and would have loved to see this place, but I guess October might not be the ideal time for something like that! 🙂


  2. While this place is absolutely GORGEOUS, I share with you a concern.This area is natural and pristine! We here are all worried about the areas natural ability to reproduce in the future. I kindly ask that for future publications, try your best to avoid mentioning such a beautiful desolate area. You will in turn save our environment from the weakness that comes with “over popularity” I don’t mean to be a scrooge, but only care for OUR environment up here. We cannot afford to be well known.

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