As many of you know, we’ve had a busy time outdoors this summer. Even before summer really got started, we’d hit most of the Bruce Trail throughout the Beaver Valley section. That was a blast and what a terrific area of the province to discover and explore.
Since coming back from Prince Edward Island at the end of June, hiking has taken a spot on the back-burner so to speak. Don’t feel bad or sad for us; outdoor adventures still happened including four trips to Algonquin Park, but just not that much hiking.
At times though, life does have a way of upsetting the apple cart when it comes to enjoying the outdoors. The turned over apple cart this summer included, the flooding of Lynn’s parents basement in July and helping our daughter as she moved to Halifax at the beginning of September. With the flooding and basement repairs completed and Sara nicely settled in Halifax with her friend………life as we know it seems to be back on a more even keel.
Last Friday, we decided to check out the Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve located between Collingwood and Singhampton. Funny, I mentioned to Lynn that it has been almost 2 months since we’ve been actually out hiking. Won’t do that again!
The idea was to hike a good section in this area, given we had hiked both to the north and south of here two years ago. You know your outdoors life is busy when it takes you two years to get back to a region you visited previously and it’s only an hour and a half from home!
We kind of picked hiking here, as we didn’t want to be overly remote and not be able to get reasonable cell phone service. Sara and her friend had left for Halifax the day before and being the wonderful and doting parents we are, we had our cell phones continually at the ready to ensure they were safe and had made it. I think more for our sanity than their safety.
After chatting with them on Friday morning(yes……. they where safe and had stopped for breakfast in Edmunston), we headed over to the trail head, getting there sometime around 11:00am.
Our plan was to hike from the parking area to the Standing Rock and Caves Side Trail; hike and explore that and then connect through to the main trail using the Singhampton Side Trail. We planned then to hike south to the next concession road; turn around and hike in the reverse to the concession road at the north end of the of the park area and finally return back to our car.
However, even the best thought out plans can change. We never made for the most part out of the Standing Rock and Caves Side Trail.
We left the parking area on the road and headed towards the side trail, casually hiking along the main section of the Bruce.
After about 400 metres, we came up to the junction with the Standing Rock and Caves Side Trail.
Just as we arrived, two ladies asked if we had seen a gentleman hiking. We answered, “No, we had just started.” One of the ladies saw Lynn’s camera around her neck and said, “If you ignore the No Trespassing signs ahead, feel free to walk on our property to a cliff edge and you’ll get some great views out towards the Georgian Bay and across the Pretty River Valley.”
We thanked her and headed over to where she suggested. And yes the view was spectacular!
In hindsight, this seemingly run-of-the-mill gesture, actually distracted me from walking back the entire 100 metres or so to enter the side trail and the ravine system from its “easier and somewhat safer” connection with the main trail.
As started to head back, we kept seeing cracks and crevices along the top of the escarpment ridge which obviously lead to some investigation.
And the obvious conclusion, “I think we can get to the bottom and the ravine system by scrambling down this rock face.”
Here’s a short video from about halfway down the rock scramble on our way to the bottom.
This is the first cave and crevices we investigated. Sorry for the poor photo quality. The cave was about 10-15 metres in-depth and went quite deep at the narrow end.
Once down in the bottom of the ravine system, much of the rest of our time was spent climbing over; climbing through; climbing around and investigating every crevice and cave we came across.
What follows are mostly pictures we took throughout the trail, primarily in the bottom of the ravine system.
After spending about 3 to 4 hours climbing through everything nook and cranny we could find, we came across a small side crevice and scrambled up the rock face and onto the main section of the Bruce Trail and headed back to the car.
For those of you who are still reading and looking, it should be obvious by now the “plan” we originally birthed never came to fruition. In fact, we never made it anywhere else except the Standing Rock and Caves Side Trail.
If we’re really being honest here, we never even explored the entire length of the side trail. After getting back to the car, I glanced at the map and proudly told Lynn that after almost 4 hours we maybe explored half the trail. I don’t think we even made to “Standing Rock” which is a giant monolithic structure which at some point separated itself from the escarpment face and majestically stands upright on one of it’s ends just a few metres away from the cliff face.
Even though we didn’t complete what we had planned, it was a great afternoon. I think we just needed to get out and it likely wouldn’t have mattered much what we did. But, this was a bonus.
The way Lynn summed it up on the way home, pretty much explains our day. “If there was a difficult and adventurous way to get someplace, explore and discover stuff…………we’d find it. Why take the easy way into that sidetrail when ramping up the experience on a scramble was soooooo much more fun.”
Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve is a great spot to spend an afternoon. The rocks and trail itself can be a bit slick in spots, so be careful. If you like rocks, trees, moss, caves and crevices, I think you can’t go wrong here.
Sorry, no cave trolls.
Thanks for reading.