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