02.09.2011 - 06.09.2011 25 °C
Background Info: The Bruce Peninsula is situated between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. It is part of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve and is an important habitat for many animals and reptiles, including black bear, massasauga rattlesnake, and barred owl.
The Trip: If you are driving from Toronto, the shortest and most scenic route to take is Hwy 11 north (Hurontario St.) which brings you right to the southern-most point of the peninsula. The Bruce Peninsula encompasses several towns so the time it takes to get there depends on your destination. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hrs to get to Sauble Beach and Wiarton, about 3 hrs to get to Lion's Head and 3.5 to 4 hrs to get to Tobermory (located at the northern tip of the peninsula).
Thoughts About the Place: I absolutely love coming to the Bruce Peninsula, so much that my boyfriend and I have made this trip into a yearly vacation. We love coming here to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. We usually like to stay in/ or very close to Tobermory, located at the northern end of the Bruce Peninsula. Although a small tourist town, Tobermory offers its guests galleries, tourist shops and several local restaurants. Not be missed are The Fish and Chips Place for fresh, local fish and the Crow's Nest for an evening dinner and live music. If you're in the mood for something sweet, check out the Sweet Shop which offers ice cream and chocolates (a coffee/tea shop is nearby), although the Peninsula Supply (across from Foodland at the marina) also offers good ice cream. If you're staying in town for a couple of days you could take a day (or more) to visit Manitoulin Island (accessible by passenger/car ferry MS Chi-Cheemaun). The Island is quite big and offers many attractions so if you are planning to stay just for the day make sure you take the early ferry as it takes about 2 hrs to get there. Another island you can visit is Flowerpot Island which offers walking trails and beaches. On the way, you can take a glass-bottom boat which will allow you to see one of the shipwrecks not far from shore. If, on the other hand, you are planning to stay on mainland, there are quite a few things to explore not far from Tobermory. The most important thing to see is the Bruce Peninsula National Park. From the main parking lot, a 40 min. light hike will lead you to beautiful views of Georgian Bay and the famous Grotto (you can also swim here although the water is usually cold). If you want a beach day, you can also check out Singing Sands Beach on Lake Huron (entrance from Dorca's Bay Rd. off of Hwy 6). Just a note that the water is very shallow, so you will need to walk quite a bit until you reach deeper waters. Stay here until the evening when you might experience the tides that frequently come into shore, and see the beautiful sunsets. There is also a small beach closer to Tobermory on Dunk's Bay Rd. on the Georgian Bay side. There is also a historic light house to be seen: take Dyers Bay Rd. E and take the gravel road (very scenic) once you reach Cabot Dock Lane (at this juncture you can make a pit-stop and take some photos at the boat lunch (you can also jump in the water from the pier). Once you reach the light house, make sure to go inside to see how the lightkeeper used to live and go all the way up top for a view of the area. You can also walk the small trail to the Bay where many ships come to dock when the Georgian bay waters are rough.
On your way back home, you could also stop in some of the following towns:
a. Sauble Beach: Sauble Beach is a popular beach resort town and is usually quiter and offers and a more mature crowd than Wasaga Beach. Although much farther than Wasaga, many Torontonians prefer to drive up to Sauble Beach, even if for the day. There are quite a few shops here and a supermarket if you are planning to stay for a few days. The beach is clean, sandy, and over 11 km long.
b. Wiarton: From Sauble, go north on Hwy 6 and soon enough you will reach the small town of Wiarton. There is a little park here were you can relax and have a picnic. The most important thing to do here is to visit Wiarton Willie, the cute little groundhog that is a celebrity not only February, but all year round for those who come to visit him. If are continuing to travel north along the peninsula and you love Tim Hortons, make sure to buy something here as this is the only location.
c. Lion's Head: Even smaller and quieter than Wiarton is Lion's Head. There is not much to do here except to see the marina and rocky beach. If you drive a bit north to Hopes Bay, you will find a nice campground and cabin rental resort which provides access to a sandy beach and beach volleyball. If you are in the mood for a hike, close by (to the north of Hopes Bay) you can see visit some caves at Greig's Caves found on Scenic Caves Rd. off of Hwy 9.