Hiking and Exploring Bruce County
Every year, from the time I was a child, I have spent at least a week of my summer somewhere on the Bruce Peninsula. The beaches are family friendly. Trails are varied and beautiful. Don’t forget the lighthouses, marinas, shops, cottages, hotels, museums, and B & Bs too.
Bruce County is Vast
Here in Bruce County there is no shortage of things to do, restaurants to dine in, parks to explore and enjoy. Despite visiting the Bruce for roughly 40 years, this is the first year I ever understood how incredibly vast the Bruce County area is.
Our Mother-Daughter Weekend Trip
On a recent weekend, I took my daughter, Payton, up to Bruce County to do some hiking and general exploring together. Of course, beach time is always welcome and the Bruce Peninsula has so many gorgeous beaches.
The night we arrived we went straight to our accommodations in Lion’s Head and after checking in we visited the beach to test the waters and take some pictures. This was our first ever visit to Lion’s Head. You can read more about Lion’s Head in this post. The coast was so pretty here that I fell in love with the idea of renting a cottage on the water another summer.
A Bed and Breakfast Stay
The morning after we checked out of the Bed and Breakfast in Lion’s Head, we took a short drive to the Lindsay Tract and did some hiking before the rain and mosquitos chased us away.
The Lindsay Tract has numerous different trails and each is a different level of difficulty. We opted for the wetlands trail first and found the cutest little lending library on the route. These trails are also great for cyclists and some trails even noted that horses were allowed.
It was Passport Stop Number One on the Explore The Bruce 2017 Adventure Passport. We browsed around for a bit and my daughter pretended to be Shrek Yelling Get Out My Swamp. But first we stopped and stamped the passport at the easily identifiable passport station on the Lindsay Tract wetlands trail lookout.
The Lindsay Tract in Bruce County is just off Highway 6. It’s 8,500 acres of wilderness, rock, hardwood and softwood. There’s also the White Bluff Bruce Trail located nearby which is Passport Stop #2 this year.
What is the Passport?
For your information the Bruce County Passport to Adventure 2017 is a contest and a fun way to see more of Bruce County. The 2017 Explore The Bruce Passport covers several well known area destinations and some hidden treasures too. There are 12 passport stops and 17 destinations throughout Bruce County on the passport to explore.
Visit a minimum of 7 out of the 12 stops to be eligible for a prize like a T-Shirt. Finish all the stops for a chance to win one of the incredible grand prizes. Believe me they are worth it. There are restaurant gift certificates and overnight stays in Tobermory, or a cottage rental, and adventure passes to do outdoor activities too.
After hitting passport stop #1 and #2 and spending time in Lion’s Head exploring, dining and shopping, Payton and I headed all the way into Tobermory because it was raining quite a bit and we did about as much hiking as possible in the rain.
In Tobermory we hit the Sweet Shop for a sweet tooth fix. After spying the signs all the way up Highway 6 on the drive in Friday night, we had to get some ice cream there. We shopped around before catching a quick tour out to Flowerpot Island in a glass bottom boat with Bruce Anchor Cruises. That is more than worth checking out. OH, but it is always busy so book your tickets on line if you can.
Tobermory is beautiful and it is as far as Highway six will go. The 45th Parallel is the northernmost part of Bruce County. On our afternoon trip we spied many lighthouses and some of the prettiest rock formations you could imagine. This area of Ontario is breathtaking. A multitude of tiny islands exist up here too.
From there we made a super quick run to the Harvest Moon organic bakery. Buy a pie and browse their adorable and fun sculpture garden. The bakery is off Highway 6 also, but look closely or you could miss it when you drive or cycle by.
After hiking, sightseeing, taking photos and exploring we headed back down Highway 6 towards Kincardine. But first we stopped in Southampton because I always have to.
A Stop in Southampton
Southampton is where I stayed with my Mom and brother for about 12 summers in a row. We continued that tradition with our kids until just about two years ago. Southampton, Port Elgin and Sauble Beach are all extremely familiar to us. Driving along the Peninsula from Southampton to Port Elgin always makes me happy. I got more steps in walking the boardwalk in Southampton with my daughter.
We watched the boats for a bit in Port Elgin, but a rainy night meant that not many people were on the beach. Love Port Elgin every year for their Farmer’s Market and the train that goes around the park near the beach. Don’t forget to mini golf too when you visit. Passport Stop #6 is in Port Elgin.
After leaving the beach we checked in to one of Kincardine’s newest hotels – The Towne Place Suites by Marriott Kincardine on Millennium Way. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Such a beautiful and clean hotel suite with breakfast included. We know where to stay next time we head to Kincardine.
There’s a lot to love about Kincardine. From the harbour to the downtown area, we thoroughly enjoy spending time in Kincardine. This year we went through the lighthouse again and played around at the beach. It was a sunny Sunday morning and I could have stayed there all day. There are a few good restaurants in Kincardine, so stop a bit and have a meal there too.
By the way the Walker House is a Passport Stop on the adventure passport. Stop by and stamp your passport too. After leaving Kincardine lighthouse, harbour and downtown area we drove all the way out to Pine River Cheese in Ripley. Not my first ever visit there.
One year on the way back from he cottage my younger daughter and I took a wrong turn and wound up by Pine River Cheese. So we went in and toured the museum portion and viewing gallery of Pine River Cheese. Then we bought cheese curds and some jam. Payton and I did the same thing this summer.
Traveler Tip bring cash to Pine River Cheese. There’s fresh food outside a food truck that takes cash only.
Now this is where it got even more interesting for me. Never ever have I been to Lion’s Head or Tobermory before. In fact I didn’t even really know they were a part of Bruce County. But Kincardine, the beaches and Pine River Cheese in Ripley I knew because I had been there. However, as part of our weekend of fun together we were also supposed to drive to the Point Clark Lighthouse, which is literally where Bruce County begins.
So glad we made it that far. It really was worth it. Point Clark is a beautiful little spot and not really that far from home. The Point Clark Lighthouse is rich in history. We paid to do the tour and climbed up all the stairs with our guide. The view from the top was more than worth it. In Point Clark I realized we covered pretty much the entire length of Bruce County driving and exploring in one weekend.
Towards the end of our afternoon we were getting hungry so we drove over to our final stop in Mildmay. Mildmay is a cute spot that I’ve heard about for years but never stopped in. Not that we spent a lot of time here. But we drove through and paused for a big dinner at Sandy’s Family restaurant. This is real family fare.
Other points of interest in Mildmay are: Harley’s Pub and Perk that is Passport Stop #11 and Wendt’s Jewelry and Gifts. Mildmay is picturesque and the drive there on a late Sunday afternoon took us past several Mennonites riding back home on buggies.
Bruce County is Worth Exploring Again and Again
Bruce County is more than worth the drive. I’ve been visiting every year for decades and I still find something new every single visit. We went from south to north and back down again then we headed west to east and covered more territory than we ever intended. What a busy mother daughter weekend!
Here are Five Bruce County Hotels and B and B’s I Recommend If You Visit:
I have stayed in most of these spots as recently as this week actually and can definitely say they are worth it.
Kincardine Holiday Inn Express Suites (breakfast included, downtown near everything and is affordable)
Towne Place by Marriott Suites Kincardine (breakfast included, spacious clean and near everything. Basically beside the Holiday Inn Express. )
Best Western Plus Governor’s Inn (great location also)
45th Parallel Bed and Breakfast (LOVED) Super friendly, great breakfast, comfortable and affordable)
Quality Inn – Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor – When we were kids this place didn’t even exist yet and we always stayed at cottages renting privately. BUT now that this hotel is there I really love that there are more family options in the area.
Recently we were guests of Bruce County while visiting the area and as such we received accommodations and other compensation to share this experience with others. My opinion is all my own and it is also truthful. This post may contain affiliate links as a service to readers.
This looks like such a fun place to visit with so much to see and explore! I have never been to Bruce County but after reading your post I now really want to visit.
Love your travel adventures.
This is such a lovely region I would really like to take my family to visit! The gorgeous beaches and trails would be so much fun to enjoy.
I haven’t been out this way in years. Still as beautiful as I remember. A great place for a getaway
This looks like such a nice place for a getaway! The glass bottom boat sounds really cool!!
Absolutely beautiful! I’ve never been to Bruce County and it’s somewhere that I know the boys would really enjoy. Off to find more information!
The trails! definitely some of my favourite hiking spots. (And now I’m just itching to get back there!)
Monica and Frank Heisz
We were born in Bruce Count and still have a place there. Thanks for a great review of the main highlights.