Bruce Trail

Bruce Trail

Infobox Hiking trail
Name=Bruce Trail
Caption=View from the Niagara Escarpment
Location=Southwestern Ontario
Start/End Points=Tobermory, Ontario
Queenston, Ontario

The Bruce Trail is a hiking (and multi-use) trail in southern and central Ontario, Canada.


It follows the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, one of the thirteen UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves in Canada, for more than convert|800|km|abbr=on. The land the trail traverses is owned by the Government of Ontario, private landowners and the Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC).

The name of the trail is linked to the Bruce Peninsula and Bruce County which the trail runs through. The trail is named after Bruce County which was named after James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin who was Governor General of the Province of Canada from 1847-1854.

Natural features

There are many waterfalls along the Bruce trail, where streams or rivers flow over the Niagara Escarpment. Niagara Falls, by far the most famous watercourse in the area, can be reached by a side trail of the Bruce Trail proper. There is also a wide range of plant and wildlife along the trail, including slow-growing centuries-old coniferous trees right on the limestone lip of the escarpment itself.

The Bruce Trail and the escarpment run through some of the most populatedareas of Ontario, with an estimated 7 million people living within convert|100|km|abbr=on. Golf courses, housing, and quarries are all examples of the threatening impact that this many people have on the natural environment. The popularity of the trail itself, especially near urban areas, and the careless attitude of some of its users also paradoxically threaten the quality and viability of the trail.


The trail begins in the south in Queenston, Ontario, on the Niagara River, not far from Niagara Falls. The cairn marking its southern terminus is in a parking lot, about convert|160|m|ft|-1 from General Brock's Monument on the easterly side of the monument's park grounds. From there, it travels through the major towns and cities of St. Catharines where it passes through wine country near the Short Hills Bench, Hamilton, Burlington, Milton, Halton Hills, Owen Sound, Wiarton and Tobermory.

It passes through parks operated by various levels of government, including Woodend Conservation Area in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Battlefield Park in Stoney Creek, Dundas Valley Conservation Area in Dundas, the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail, Mount Nemo Conservation Area, Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area, Crawford Lake Conservation Area, Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, and the Bruce Peninsula National Park between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. Its northern terminus is in Tobermory, the jumping off point for Fathom Five National Marine Park.

Approximately half of the trail runs through public land. In order to make a complete connection the trail runs partly on private property and partly on road allowances. When going through private property, the BTC has made agreements with landowners to allow trail users to pass through. Using roads is not the best route for the trail. In these sections the BTC is involved in acquiring land along what it calls the 'optimum route'.


The Federation of Ontario Naturalists surveyed the route in the early 1960s, and the responsibility for maintaining the trail was assumed by the nascent Bruce Trail Association (as of 2007, it is called the Bruce Trail Conservancy).

Currently headquartered at Rasberry House in Hamilton, the BTC marks and maintains the main trail as well as many side trails. Trail maintenance includes building bridges over streams and gullys, building stairs and switchbacks to climb slopes, building stiles over fences, and rerouting portions of the trail that have become worn through overuse.

The trail is subdivided into nine sections, each with a subsidiary club:

Volunteers inspect, repair and build footbridges, retaining walls, stiles and handholds along their section of the route. The BTC and subsidiary clubs offer badges for those hikers who complete the whole trail or any of its sections under prescribed conditions.

The main trail is marked with the BTC logo, a white lozenge with black text and drawings for the Bruce Trail and an upward pointing arrow which does not in fact offer directional assistance. The actual blazes are white markings, approximately convert|3|cm|in|0|abbr=on wide by convert|8|cm|in|0|abbr=on high, with turns indicated by stacking two blazes off centre to indicate the direction to take. The blazes for the convert|300|km|abbr=on of associated side trails are similar, except they are blue.

Long distance activities

The BTC regularly holds events called "end to end" hikes. These events which are sometimes held over 2-3 days, challenge hikers to walk over sections of the trail in the given time limit.

The Bruce Trail has also attracted other long distance events. In October, 2005, Clayton Smith ran the entire length of the trail in 15 days. This "ultramarathon" was performed as a charity fund-raiser for the BTC and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. [Omar El Akkad. Trail-blazing runner goes end-to-end on the Bruce. "The Globe and Mail". October 4, 2005. [] ]

The [ Highlands Trailblazers] Nordic Ski Team completed a relay-style run of the entire trail in 8 days, starting in Tobermory on June 24, 2008 and finishing in Queenston on July 1, 2008. This run was both a training event as well as a fund-raiser for the team. [Runners complete Bruce Trail. "Stayner Sun". July 8, 2008. [] ]

Further reading

* Rich Freeman, "Bruce Trail: An adventure along the Niagara Escarpment" (Footprint Press, 1998) ISBN 0-9656974-3-6


External links

* [ Bruce Trail Conservancy]
* [ Hikes on the Bruce Trail]
* [ Hiking the Bruce]
* [ Waypoint file] in GPX format
* [ Bruce Trail on Google Earth and Google Maps]

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