The Bruce Peninsula is a peninsula in Ontario, Canada, that lies between Georgian Bay and the main basin of Lake Huron. The Bruce Peninsula is a key area for both plant and animal wildlife. Part of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve, the peninsula has the largest remaining area of forest and natural habitat in Southern Ontario and is home to some of the oldest trees in eastern North America. An important flyway for migrating birds, the peninsula is habitat to a variety of animals, including black bear, massasauga rattlesnake, and barred owl.
The Escarpment is actually an ancient coral reef, which lay at the bottom of a warm shallow sea at the center of Earth’s first continent, Pangea, 450 million years ago. Shifting tectonic plates pushed the fossilized reef upward to become a mountain range, which was then shaved by 30 ice ages into the flat-topped escarpment of the present day. (referenced here)
Where to Stay
When visiting the Grotto or Tobermory, Cyprus Lake Campground is a great place to stay. It’s home to a trail that leads right to the grotto, so parking is free for those who stay at Cyprus. The campsites are private, well kept and bathrooms have flush toilets and running water. The campground is located right on Cyprus Lake with plenty of spots to swim. There are no showers in the campground so wash up in the lake or you can pay to shower in a nearby facility.
Winter camping is available between November 2017-April 30, 2018. It is only available at the Tamarack camping area and it is on a first-come first-serve basis. The campground is home to 10 yurts and they are reservation only, however they are not available during the winter season.
What to Do
- Visit Tobermory – From Cyprus Lake, Tobermory is a 15km drive. Tobermory is a marine city that is home to kayak rentals, restaurants, gift shops and access to Flower Pot Island and the Fathom Five National Marine Park.
- Hike Flower Pot Island – You can kayak to Flower Pot Island, but this trip is only recommended for advanced paddlers. We suggest taking a glass bottom ferry out to the island for the day. Pack a lunch and spend the day on the Island. The hike is easy with some incline and decline, takes about 2 hours to hike and enjoy lunch. We suggest leaving early to beat the crowds, take a 9am cruise out and a 12:50 return. This is plenty of time to spend on the island.
- View Shipwrecks – Rent kayaks at Thorncrest Outfitters or G+S Water Sports to visit some of the many shipwrecks located in the Fathom Five National Marine Park. Map of shipwrecks here. Thorncrest offers tours and shuttle services, make sure to call prior to your trip to make sure they are open. You will not be able to rent kayaks if the water is still too cold during late Spring. Another option to view shipwrecks is from a shipwreck cruise on a glass bottom boat.
- Hike the Grotto – Hiking to the grotto is a must!! If you are staying in Cyprus Lake Campground, there is a path right from your campsite. If you are not staying in Cyprus Lake Campground, you will have to make a reservation to park in their lot. This is about a 3-4 trip, there and back. There are some extreme hiking areas close to the grotto. You can climb down (Advanced hikers only). There are a couple restrooms on the way. Many families of all hiking levels do this, do not feel discouraged about the length. You will want to enjoy the water once you get there. Be prepared: bring water, snacks, first aid and any other absolute necessities on your hike. Bathing suits are recommended during warmer months.
Tips/What to Bring
- Check water temps before renting kayaks. Most places do not rent in dangerous water temps lower than 40 degrees. Temps are very cold year round in the Georgian Bay.
- This is bear country. We saw a bear in our campground in May walking across the road. Research bear protection rituals such as keeping a clean camp site, keep food locked in vehicle and bring bear spray. If traveling over the border, research if you have the approved bear spray. (Canadian Customs will allow the importations of USEPA-approved bear spray into Canada. Specifications state that the bear spray must have USEPA on the label. Check with your local customs prior to trip.) If you are hiking, it is best to hike in groups early in the morning or later in the day. Research tactics for when confronted by a bear, click here for more information.
- Review the rules for Cyprus Lake Campground to avoid any fines. There are alcohol restrictions and quiet hours to abide by, we highly suggest reviewing.