Hike #14: Pretty River Valley Provincial Park

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Distance hiked: 7.4km
Location: Bruce Trail, Ontario
Date: May 16, 2020

We’ve been under lockdown for the past couple of months, and as of this week, provincial parks and conservation areas in Ontario are back on the menu. What better way to spend the weekend than hiking. Especially since the weather was (finally) cooperating (i.e. not raining).

We hiked through the Pretty River Valley Provincial Park, which contains geological features related to glacial and post-glacial processes, such as meltwater channels, moraine and talus slopes, along one of the highest points of the Niagara Escarpment. We parked along the Pretty River Road and took the Pretty River Access Trail to get to the Bruce Trail. The trail winds through a dense cedar grove before heading down into the valley to cross the Pretty River.


The water level was pretty high, so it took us a while to find a good spot with sufficiently large enough rocks to cross over. Once we made it to the other side of the river, the path steadily made its way up to the top of the escarpment, providing (a good cardio workout and) sweeping views overlooking Collingwood and Georgian Bay.



The path continues along the edge of the escarpment before winding back down. We followed the white blazes along the main trail and turned around at the second access point for the Russ McConnell Side Trail. We hiked along the side trail as it provided a short-cut back to the main trail and change of scenery.


The side trail meets back with the main trail, which we followed for a few kilometres before reaching the Pretty River Side Trail. We followed the path through the forest, which turns onto an old logging road. The trail then leads to a small pond before heading uphill into the bush, connecting back up with the main trail. It also provided another short-cut back to the car.



By the time we finished up, the whole side of the road was lined with cars. We were not expecting that as the main reason we chose to hike through the Pretty River Valley Provincial Park was because it was pretty far from Toronto (just under 2 hours drive). I guess everyone else had the same idea. For the most part people were pretty good on the trail and tried to keep their distance. Who knows, maybe this is the new normal where more people get into hiking than ever before. I can’t blame them, hiking is one of my favourite activities after all.


My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here

15 thoughts on “Hike #14: Pretty River Valley Provincial Park

  1. kagould17 says:

    So good to get out, but so tough not to find a trail mobbed with people. A lot of hikers is OK, if they follow the social distancing rules, but we are not finding that as the case in Edmonton. They continue to congregate, straggle all across the path and stop at awkward spots where we can not pass safely. The same happened over the weekend in our reopened Provincial Parks. Glad you are getting out for good hikes. Hope everyone goes back to work soon, so we can hike again. Stay safe. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      When the weather is nice it seems to draw everyone outdoors. Hiking can be incredibly frustrating when the trails are congested, but even more so during the middle of a pandemic. I’m also worried of the impact of all these extra visitors on the trail, especially when it comes to their trash. Hoping things go back to “normal” too and that I can hike in solitude once more. Take care.

  2. ourcrossings says:

    I’m glad you guys are able to freely explore the parks again, especially after living in isolation for such a long time. We are still asked to stay at home and avoid non essential travel, but I can see that many people are already braking the rules and driving to the shops just to get an ice cream. Hopefully the world be back to normal soon, with people behaving and acting accordingly. Thanks for sharing such beautiful photos, this looks like an amazing hike. Aiva 😊

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was so nice to be out on a proper hiking trail again. Even though the trail was busy, it was significantly less packed than the walking paths in our neighbourhood and much more scenic. Hoping things go back to normal soon too and that everyone follows the rules so we don’t have to go back to the way things were in lockdown. Take care.

  3. Oh, the Places We See says:

    You found what we are finding in our nearby Great Smoky Mountains: people are out of their houses looking to the great outdoors to ease their pain from sheltering in place. And judging from your pictures, this is a beautiful place for an escape.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Parks are one of the few things open these days and as the weather starts to get warmer, it just brings everyone outdoors. There was a park here in Toronto, Trinity Bellwoods, that made the headlines over the weekend as thousands of people crowded the park to enjoy the warm weather. We’ve been trying to explore some of the provincial parks and conservation areas in Ontario off the beaten path, such as this one, but I guess other people all have the same idea. Hoping this isn’t the new normal. Regardless, this was a lovely area to hike though.

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