Hike #2: Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area

Distance hiked: 6.5km
Location: Bruce Trail, Ontario
Date: January 19, 2020

It’s been a mild winter in Southern Ontario. So after a snowstorm on Saturday (we got around 15cm of snow), the only thing to do was to play outside in it. Or rather, snowshoe outside in it.

We drove all the way up to Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area, which is about an hour and a half from Toronto. The conservation area spans across 400-acres and offers a number of different trails through hardwood and coniferous forests, open meadows, and  along small crevices in cliffs.

We parked at the small parking lot located at the northern entrance of the conservation area. There was a sign indicating that daily parking was $6.50 a day, but the actual machine to purchase the parking ticket was buried underneath a snow bank. There were a few other cars in the lot, which we took for a promising sign that the snowshoeing must be good here.


We hiked along a loop, starting first along the Bruce Trail (an 885km trail that we’ve been slowly completing over the past few years) for 700m before taking the Betty Carter Side Trail (800m). It was an interesting snowshoeing adventure as the weight of the snow and ice on the trees made for some interesting maneuvering over, under and through tree branches.


It was sometimes unclear where the path continued as many of the blazes were covered in snow. We were also forging a new path for part of the trail so we couldn’t even rely on footprints from other hikers or snowshoers. Either way, it was a lot of fun trailblazing through all the snow.

The Betty Carter Side Trail intersects with the Bruce Trail again. We followed this for 1.8km before reaching the Keyhole Side Trail (740m).


The Keyhole Side Trail was easily one of the best sections along the trail. The path leads through a pass between large rock boulders and features a tight squeeze through a hole in the wall. This was a bit interesting to get through with our snowshoes, but we managed without having to take them off.


The Keyhole Side Trail leads back up with the Bruce Trail, which we followed for another 3.2km before looping back to the parking lot.


We were pretty exhausted by the time we reached the car. This has been our first opportunity to snowshoe this year (we haven’t had any snow), so we were happy we were able to enjoy before it melts (which will probably happen later in the week).


My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here

15 thoughts on “Hike #2: Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was our first substantial snowfall of the year. As someone who enjoys the snow, I naturally had to take advantage of it. Who knows whether it’ll still be here in a couple of weeks. Hope you’re staying warm. Thanks for reading.

  1. bernieLynne says:

    Snow shoeing is a lot of work and breaking trail adds to the task. I am not surprised that you were both exhausted when you get back. Walking 6.5 km is definitely not the same as walking 6.5 km!! Good on you guys. I love getting out snow shoeing and just going wherever we desire to go — no trails just free flow!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I always seem to underestimate how much more time it takes to hike a trail that is covered in snow. It takes nearly twice as long and requires much more effort. On the plus side, the snow makes everything look magical and there are usually less people on the trail (and there are no bugs!).

  2. Janet says:

    That’s a lot of snow. It’s so pretty. Wish we’d get some here in California. We tried going snowshoeing a couple weeks ago in Yosemite, but…nothing. Then a little flurry came through the next day.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This was our first real snowfall of the year, so naturally I had to take advantage of it. Can you believe that most of it melted within less than a week? I planned to go snowshoeing the weekend after, but with all the rain, most of the snow was gone by the weekend. It hasn’t been a good season for winter activities. Fingers crossed that you get more snow in California.

  3. usfman says:

    I am curious as to how do you find your way on those snowy trails when the trail markers are buried in snow? Have you ever snowshoed in Colorado?

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Good question. Navigation was a bit tricky as many of the markers were buried in snow. Luckily there were others that forged part of the trail before us. Even following their footprints sometimes led us down a dead end and we had to backtrack. I have never been to Colorado before, but would love to. The hiking looks incredible all year round.

Leave a Reply