Hike #21: Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve

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Distance hiked: 9.3km
Location: Nottawasga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve, Ontario
Date: June 7, 2020

Nestled high up on the Niagara Escarpment near Collingwood, the Nottawasga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve features some great hiking trails along a cliff, forested slopes and through caves and crevices. There are also a number of great viewpoints overlooking Georgian Bay along the way.

We parked along the side of the road near the southern edge of the nature reserve. The first stretch of the path was relatively flat and followed along the edge of the Escarpment through a dense forest. The mosquitoes were out in full force, but after hiking in Bon Echo Provincial Park a few weeks ago (and nearly being eaten alive), I was extra prepared with insect repellent in hand. 

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We hiked along the Bruce Trail and turned around at the western edge of the nature reserve when the path crosses the road. The trail itself was pleasant enough, except for the end where it’s just a straight decline down the Escarpment (and then back up again on the return journey back), but the real highlight of the Nottawasga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve is the Standing Rock & Caves Side Trail (630m).

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The side trail heads down the Escarpment to a standing rock pillar and leads through, under, around, and above large boulders, cervices and small caves. 

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Despite the fact that it was June, there was even a layer of thick snow and ice at the bottom of the valley. This made for some interesting maneuvering through some of the narrow wedges between the rocks. 

We even contemplating turning around at one point as the ice was quite slick. But then we saw this couple with two young kids zoom by and were able to slither through some of the tight spaces. We figured if they could do it, so could we. And we’re glad that we did because it was actually a lot of fun scrambling through the rocky (and icy!) debris.

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We felt a sense of accomplishment when we made it back to the top of the Escarpment. We followed the white blazes on the main trail for a couple hundred metres to get to the Singhampton Side Trail (190m), which provided a nice short-cut back to to where we parked the car. 

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My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here

4 thoughts on “Hike #21: Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The bugs were pretty bad, but wearing insect repellent helped a lot. They always seem to manage to find the one or two spots that you missed though. We noticed them more when we were navigating through the obstacle course of large boulders as we were going pretty slow. That’s always the risk when hiking this time of year: that the bugs are out of control.

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  1. Lookoom says:

    The entire Niagara Escarpment area around Collingwood is spectacular with the sparkle of George Bay in the distance and the clumping of boulders and trees on the trails. Just last fall, I went to the nearby Scenic Caves Nature Adventure, especially for the suspension bridge, it’s a beautiful way to reconnect with nature. Thanks for the post.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Georgian Bay is one of my favourite areas in Ontario. It is so incredibly scenic with its rugged coastline and crystal clear (but cold!) waters. The Scenic Caves is a lovely area, especially in the fall when all the leaves are changing colour. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

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