A group of us headed north to the Cape Croker Indian Campground for a few days of hiking. It is located about 3 ½ hours north of Toronto on Georgian Bay and about a 20-minute drive from Wiarton.
Cape Croker Campground
As there was a group of 21, we would normally choose the group camping area but we are not a fan of the site so picked a few of the premium sites in the Beach (Dibew) Campground, a few more in the forested Maples (Ninaatgoog) Campground and one in the rough area.
Although the sites in the Beach Camping area cost a few more dollars they do offer superb views of Sydney Bay and the surrounding cliffs. At one end is a beach and washroom with laundry facilities with very clean Porta Potties scattered throughout. Since the boat launch was close to our site we went swimming there. The only issue with these sites is that during heavy rainstorms like we had some of them can get a bit flooded.
During our mid-week visit in July the Maples camping area was nearly empty. The sites are large and area forested. Besides the porta potty and closest washroom is a bit of a walk near the park office but does have showers ($1) and laundry facilities.
Some people do prefer the so-called Rough Camping Area with the large sites along the shore offering great views. There are only portable washrooms in this area.
The Park office offers ice, fire wood and water for sale but they frequently ran out and we had to drive into Wiarton for supplies.
Cape Croker Park has welcomed visitors since 1967 and offers 315 campsites. It is owned and operated by the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.
Jones Bluff Hike
The Bruce Trail follow a path up a hill connecting the Beach and Maples campgrounds and continues past the park office and along Park Road, turning right for a short distance on McIver Road before turning into the forest, a distance of 2 km.
A further walk of 0.4 in the dense forest brings you to the Jones Bluff side trail sign. However, continue following the white blazes of the main trail for the next 7.1 km. This entire section is heavily forested with lots of roots and rocks to walk over. Even better are the many lookout points over Sydney Bay including our campsite in the distance. Expect to see many different types and colours of mushrooms along the route.
This section is a loop with the far side slightly descending with many short gaps in the rock to cross before you reach a parking lot. From here you will be following the blue blazes of the Jones Bluff Side Trail for 879 metres. You then return to Cape Croker along the original route having walked about 12 km.
Reference: Bruce Trail Peninsula Club Map 36 – Malcolm Bluff
Sydney Bay Bluff Hike
Start this walk near Guy’s Fish and Chips Trailer (near the washroom) which is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Each morning at 5:30 a.m. Guy heads out in his boat to Isthmus Bay just north of Lion’s Head. The menu varies depending on the catch as one day white fish and trout were available while on the day, I was there they also had pickerel. You can also order just fries; poutine and hot dogs. For $16 I received a generous portion of both the white fish, home made tartar sauce and chips which I highly recommend.
Back to the hiking as we walk past the trailer and into the woods before reaching the Snake Trail Boardwalk. Crossing Park Road, the main trail continues a short distance before you climb a set of stairs up the steep limestone rock face to the top of the Escarpment.
Similar to the previous day hike the Sydney Bay Bluff Trail (white blazes) forms a loop around the peninsula with views of both Sydney Bay and Hope Bay before meeting up with the Hart’s Tongue Side Trail (blue blazes) which takes you back to Cape Croker, a slightly longer walk than the previous day. Highlight is the 100 metre Sydney Bluff Lookout Trail.
Reference: Bruce Trail Peninsula Club maps 36 & 37 – Malcolm Bluff and Hope Bay
Other Bruce Peninsula Hikes
In the park itself is the Caves Trail (Waazh), a short very rugged hike with a ladder leading to the caves.
Nearby is the trailhead for the Boundary Bluffs Side Trail a challenging hike up and down the Niagara Escarpment.
More popular is Lion’s Head with views. Access from Country Road 9 along Cemetery Road although I found the parking lot very small and this trail is much further from the lookouts. Most hikers turn right in the town of Lion’s Head and drive to the main entrance just down the road.
Reference: Bruce Trail Peninsula Club map 38 – Lion’s Head
Cape Croker Bruce Trail Hiking offers magnificent scenery along some of the best sections of the trail, well worth a visit.