An Explorers Guide to the Bruce Peninsula

It is no surprise that the Bruce Peninsula is one of the most visited locations in Southern Ontario. From the sparkling turquoise waters of Georgian Bay to the Bruce Peninsula National Park and the lighthouses, caves and the spectacular rugged shoreline which makes up the northern leg of the Bruce Trail, there is plenty to offer for avid outdoor explorers. 

From Owen Sound, Highway 6 is a two-lane blacktop roadway that heads north leading to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula at Tobermory. A multitude of County roads run off Highway 6, leading to the shores of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.

Georgian Bay – Bruce Peninsula

Bruce Peninsula National Park

Certainly the main highlight on the peninsula is the Bruce Peninsula National Park. Frontcountry and backcountry camping, lakes for fishing and paddling and dive sites visiting shipwrecks are some of the attractions found here. Hiking trails lead around Cypress Lake and down to Dorcas Bay before connecting to the Bruce Trail and leading to the Grotto. The Grotto itself is such a popular destination that visitors now need to book a 4 hour time slot to visit. While the campground sits along Cypress Lake, the visitor centre can be found at Tobermory. From the trailhead at the visitor centre, the easy Burnt Point Loop Trail lets hikers get up close with the rocky Georgian Bay shoreline.

Bruce Peninsula National Park – Map Courtesy of BRMB Web Map

Flowerpot Island

From Tobermory, it is possible to take a boat charter over to Flowerpot Island in the Fathom Five Marine Park. The flowerpot rock pillars, battered by the waters of Georgian Bay for eons, along with caves, a historic light station and hiking trails can all be found on the island along with six campsites near Beachy Cove.

Flowerpot Island

The Bruce Trail

The 166 kilometre (103 mile) Peninsula section of the Bruce Trail offers challenging, often remote hiking with absolutely stunning scenery. Exploring this section of the trail can be done by out-and-back day trips or loops combining many of the side trails, as access is never too far off of Highway 6. Interesting routes to explore include the Spirit Rock Side Trail, which visits the Corran Mansion Ruins near Wiarton, the Barrow Bay Cliffs Side Trail, where the route descends the escarpment and follows the shoreline, or the Devil’s Monument Side Trail, home to a rickety steel staircase leading to the base of this fascinating sea stack and onto a cobble beach. It is also possible to hike to remote backcountry campsites set on high cliffs overlooking the mesmerizing blue waters in Bruce Peninsula National Park.

Map Courtesy of BRMB Maps – Mobile App

Exploring by ATV and Snowmobile

ATV riders and snowmobilers will also find an intricate network of trails throughout the Bruce Peninsula. The Bruce Peninsula Snowmobile Club maintains and grooms almost 200 km (124 miles) of trails leading north to Tobermory. The South Bruce Peninsula ATV Club offers several riding options, with loops that can cover up to 250 km (150 miles), many of which follow back roads and rail trails. Visit to connect with the local ATV folks or reach out to the snowmobile club via their Facebook page.

Bruce Peninsula – Map Courtesy of Southern Ontario Backroad Mapbook

Exploring the turquoise Waters by Kayak

Some of the best kayaking opportunities in all of Ontario can be found in the Bruce. Experienced paddlers can explore rock caves, old shipwrecks and quiet, scenic bays. Stokes Bay is a good spot to launch on the western shores while on the Georgian Bay side, Lion’s Head or Hope Bay provide excellent staging areas. The Fathom Five National Marine Park, easily reached by launching from Tobermory, is home to Cove and Flowerpot Island as well as multiple shipwrecks, easily viewed from the seat of your kayak. 

Georgian Bay

Caves, Grottos and Sea Stacks

Those looking to discover man-made attractions or unique geological features will not be disappointed by the 450 million year old escarpment that runs the length of the Bruce. Portions of the movie Quest for Fire were filmed at Greig’s Caves near Hope Bay, the sea stack known as the Devil’s Monument can be accessed via the Bruce Trail and The Grotto, a giant cave carved out by waves over thousands of years, is one of the busiest sites in Southern Ontario. Lighthouses dot the shores and the Cabot Head Light Station is a particularly pretty spot to visit.

The Grotto

Cast a Line

Anglers will find some great fishing hotspots throughout the Bruce. Highlights include Britain Lake, Cameron Lake, Emmitt Lake, Miller Lake and Sky Lake. Large and smallmouth bass, northern pike and walleye are the main species, and for those looking for rainbow or brook trout can try Spring Creek south of Miller Lake. Remember, if you plan to visit any lakes in the Bruce Peninsula National Park, in addition to a fishing license, a National Park day pass is required. 

Britain Lake & Miller Lake – Map Courtesy of Southern Ontario Backroad Mapbook

Check Out the Local Wildlife

While the odd black bear rumbles through the forests of the Bruce, white-tailed deer are typically the most often seen wildlife here. Visit the Johnston Harbour-Pine Tree Point Nature Reserve, a popular wintering deer location. Birders will want to check out the Fathom Five National Marine Park or the St Jeans Point Nature Reserve near Red Bay. Raptors are often spotted along the high cliffs of the escarpment as well. 

White Tailed Deer

Ready to Explore the Bruce?

For its small land mass, the Bruce Peninsula is large on outdoor adventures. Are you ready to explore the Bruce? If so, plan to pick up the newly released 2nd Edition of the Southern Ontario Backroad Mapbook, along with the new Bruce Peninsula Adventure Map that is available on standard water-resistant paper or waterproof material. For those that prefer mobile, the BRMB Maps app and Web Map are the perfect addition to the paper mapbook. Regardless of which you choose, they all provide the avid explorer with everything they need for a great outdoor adventure.

Do you have a favourite spot to visit on the Bruce we did not mention? Drop us a line and let us know or better yet, tag us with your photos on Instagram (#brmblife).