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Backpacking the Bruce Trail
Storm Haven in Bruce Peninsula National Park

©Outdoor Adventure Canada

The Bruce Trail in southern Ontario has some excellent spots for shorter backpacking excursions. Combining spectacular views with a variety of terrain makes the Peninsula section of the Bruce Trail an exciting place to backpack.

One of my favorite sections is the area north of the community Dyer's Bay on the rocky shores of Georgian Bay. You may start this section of the trail on Crane Lake Road at the National Park Gate or from the Head of Trails accessed through the Cyprus Lake Campground.

For the purpose of this article we will start the hike at The National Park Gate. You will hike past the remains of an old logging camp. This area was once used unsuccessfully for zinc-mining and there are still old shafts in the area so stay off the roads that intersect the trail. Part of the trail follows an old logging track and you will eventually reach High Dump. There is short side trail that brings you to several tent sites. This would be an excellent place to stop for the night but please note that campfires are not permitted and you will need to bring a backpacking stove.

The route from High Dump to Cave Point provides some spectacular lookouts. Be careful as it is the most dangerous part of the Bruce Trail and the terrain is quite rugged. Cave Point is a limestone shelf at the top of the escarpment. This area lives up to its name with many caves to explore. The next stop, after Cave Point, is Storm Haven.

You will visit more lookouts and from some of these vantage points you can see Halfway Rock Point. Storm Haven is an excellent place to camp and there are several tent platforms in place.. The beach is rocky with giant slabs of stone, some as big as a vehicle. There is a solar composting toilet and the campsites are just off the beach. Water is readily available but you must treat it.

The hike between Storm Haven and Cyprus Lake is moderate except for two, very rocky beaches that are quite tricky. It would be very easy to break an ankle here so proceed carefully. Instead of going into Cyprus I would recommend traveling an extra kilometer or so to the Natural Arch and Grotto near Indian Head Cove. Of course you have to back track to Cyprus but it is well worth the extra hiking.

You could camp at Cyprus and then make the return journey to your car at Crane Lake Road or you could arrange to have a vehicle at each end if time is limited. I prefer to do the return hike because I always see something I missed the first time.

Because this section of trail is part of the Bruce Peninsula National Park you must reserve your backcountry campsites and pay a small fee for camping. You must also be in good shape because the rocky terrain can make this journey treacherous and it can be slippery in wet weather. Campfires are not permitted and all drinking water must be treated. You must camp on the provided tent platforms because this is an ecologically sensitive area. Wear good hiking boots and watch for the Massasauga, a venomous rattlesnake that inhabits this area. There are also bears in this area so you must hang your food.

The scenery on the Bruce Peninsula is breathtaking and the hiking exhilarating. There is nothing better than ending your day with a quiet sunset on a rocky beach, emerging from the woods to view an incredible vista or exploring a cave etched out of the escarpment.

Related Forum Posts:
Winter Backpacking Bruce Peninsula NP
Bruce Trail Q & A Help Please
Fathom Five and Bruce Peninsula (kayaking)


Written by Bryan March
Photos courtesy of Bradley Wipperman

   
 
           
masthead photo courtesy photos.com
 

 

 

 

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