Canadian Running

Cana­dian Trails

Bruce Trail, Ont.

- By Al­lan Wil­liams Hiking · Travel · Outdoor Hobbies · Hobbies · Ontario · Dufferin County · Toronto · Milton · Caledon · Orangeville

Run­ners in south­ern On­tario are very lucky to have the Bruce Trail in their back­yard. Eight mil­lion peo­ple live within an hour’s drive of some part of Canada’s old­est con­tin­u­ous hik­ing trail (which opened in 1967), much of which goes through pri­vate land.

Many of my most mem­o­rable runs of the past decade have been point-to-point trail runs on the Bruce with friends. Early on a week­end morn­ing, mul­ti­ple ve­hi­cles con­verge on the planned fin­ish­ing point, and ev­ery­one crowds into one or two ve­hi­cles for the drive to the start­ing point, leav­ing one or two cars be­hind for the post-run ride back to the start. There can be hic­cups when you dis­cover that some im­por­tant item – a change of clothes, wal­let or car keys – is at the op­po­site end of the route when it’s needed, but that was al­ways part of the fun of run­ning the Bruce.

Al­though car­pool­ing is in­ad­vis­able dur­ing a pan­demic, out-and-back routes make it un­nec­es­sary, and loop routes, where you never have to run any sec­tion twice, are even more sat­is­fy­ing. The main Bruce Trail, marked by white blazes, is one 900-km-long, point-to-point route di­vided into nine sec­tions, each with its own branch of the Bruce Trail Club that’s re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing the trail in that sec­tion. From north to south, they are Penin­sula, Sy­den­ham, Beaver Val­ley, Blue Moun­tains, Duf­ferin Hi-Land, Cale­don Hills, Toronto, Iro­quoia and

Ni­a­gara. When you add in the 400 kilo­me­tres of side trails, marked by blue blazes, there are plenty of op­tions for loop routes. Here are three favourites that can be done as day trips from your base in south­ern On­tario.

The new, 30th edi­tion of the Bruce Trail Ref­er­ence Guide, avail­able at bruce­trail.org, con­tains 42 topo­graph­i­cal maps, his­toric and ge­o­log­i­cal high­lights, the Bruce Trail Users’ Code, in­for­ma­tion on park­ing and any lo­cal re­stric­tions – for ex­am­ple, dogs are pro­hib­ited in a few places where the trail passes through cat­tle pas­ture.

Hil­ton Falls loop

This 2 4.6 km loop is in the Toronto sec­tion, north­west of Mil­ton. It in­cludes 10 km of the main trail, the 9.2 km Hil­ton Falls side trail and about 5. 4 km on 15th Sideroad and Sixth Line. The ter­rain is tech­ni­cal, skirt­ing the ridge of the Ni­a­gara Es­carp­ment, and of­fers spec­tac­u­lar views. It also in­cludes the scenic Hil­ton Falls. For a 30 km op­tion, add 3 km of the main trail and re­turn via Van­der­leck Side Trail.

Hock­ley Val­ley loop

This 2 4.1 km loop is in the Cale­don Hills sec­tion, north­east of Orangevill­e, and in­cludes 17. 4 km of the main trail and the 6.7 km Hock­ley Heights side trail. It’s a beau­ti­ful wood­land trail with some gravel roads. There are lots of climbs and de­scents, but it is less tech­ni­cal than the Hil­ton Falls loop.

Beaver Val­ley loop

This 22. 4 km loop is i n the Beaver Val­ley sec­tion, south­west of Colling­wood, and in­cludes 20. 4 km of the main trail and the 2 km Camp­bell’s/Graham’s Hill side trail. The route of­fers fre­quent scenic views across the nar­row Beaver Val­ley, and passes Eugenia Falls and Hogg’s Falls. For a longer, 30.7 km op­tion, take the Val­ley Cross­over side trail fur­ther north in­stead.

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