Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area

A little teaser from Day Hikes of Ontario Vol. II. Scheduled release late 2017. Be sure to check out;

and Ed's Amazon Author Page

Total distance about 10km.

Time; about 4 hours

Difficulty ⭐️⭐️⭐️☆☆

Moderate - Suitable for people of most ages in good physical condition who have hiking/trekking experience. Preparation required. Notable elevation gains. Way-finding likely necessary, but trails well-marked and usually well defined. Trail surface variable. Trail length usually 3-8km taking 3-5 hours to complete, with fair weather. Walking time varies with weather and trail conditions.

*Walk-in overnight camping only. No vehicle access.

The conservation area is some 160ha right on the Niagara Escarpment. It’s a fascinating area, if only for the numerous crevice caves and canyons that you can hike through and explore. Dark, cool, green and mossy these caves area a pleasure to explore and present fabulous photo opportunities. There may even be snow in some of the deeper canyons even into June. But the caves are only the beginning; there’s great views from the top of the escarpment and local settler history to explore. Lime kilns are still in evidence as is one of the original stagecoach roads that ran through the area 100 years ago, but now only making an appearance to the keen eye.

Our last visit to the Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area was May of 2017. It was an overcast day with temperatures ranging from 10C in the morning to 14C by 2pm. It had rained the previous day, and so there was quite a bit of groundwater on the trails and the streams were flowing happily. We arrived about 10am and were off the trails by 2pm.

Special caution; some sections of this hike are over very uneven ground, strewn with rocks. Good hiking boots are recommended, or you’ll have to be very careful with your footing to avoid twisting an ankle. Texting while hiking should be avoided.

From the parking area and trailhead, we started out west along the white blazed Bruce Trail. The path winds its way down the face of the escarpment and you can see large rock outcroppings on your right as you descent the trail. Before long you’ll come to an area where the ground is white. A. This area used to be a lime kiln, in which limestone was heated to tremendous temperatures at which point a chemical reaction took place and the material calcinated. The resulting output was known as quicklime and was used extensively in mortar and cement production as well as basic steel making. In this area it was likely used as a stabilizing agent in the clay soil through which the roads passed, increasing their load-carrying ability.

Depending on the time of year and recent weather, you’ll pass a pond on your left. B. This area was quite buggy on our most recent trip, so we didn’t spend too much time in this area.

C. Eventually the trail makes a turn to the left (south) and descends down a short, grassy hill. At the bottom of this hill on the right, are the ruins of one of the original settlement houses in this area.

Continue southward along the boardwalk, over the swampy area to eventually emerge onto an old road where the trail then veers left to head back east. D After walking through the forest, you’ll eventually come to a field with a trail sign that indicates you are about to enter private property. Continue along the w