Length of stay: 3 days
Visited: May 2021
The Blue Mountains are located along the southern shore of Georgian Bay and feature a variety of recreational activities for every season. During the winter it is a top destination in southwestern Ontario for snowboarding, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. During the spring, summer and fall there are plenty of activities to do in and around the rugged shores of Georgian Bay, including hiking, swimming, fishing and boating.
K’s aunt and uncle, P & K, recently bought a house in Collingwood and invited us to come up to visit. Since restrictions in Ontario have been gradually easing, for the Victoria Day long weekend we decided to take them up on their offer.
Day 1: Sunset Point
On the drive up to Collingwood we stopped at Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve to knock another park off the list on our Ontario Parks Challenge. It was hot and humid with the promise of rain was on the forecast. Despite the weather, it felt great to be out on the trail. We arrived in Collingwood in the late afternoon. After taking a tour through their new house and catching up, we headed out for dinner. By this time the clouds had started to clear and the sun was out.
For dinner we decided to pick up takeaway from Mountain Shores Pizza, which is reputed to offer the best pizza in Collingwood, and drive down to Sunset Point Park to eat along the water. Sunset Point Park is situated along the waterfront of Georgian Bay and is known to be the best spot in the area to watch the sun go down. We packed a couple of bevvies and found a nice spot out on the rocks.
We stayed for a couple of hours and watched the sun melt into the horizon. I’d say the park lived up to its name.
Afterwards we headed west and drove along the shoreline to check out the small peninsula where the Collingwood grain terminals building is located. On the way we spotted a little lighthouse in the harbour and naturally stopped to take a couple of pictures.
Unfortunately it was a bit too dark by the time we arrived at the grain terminal buildings and none of my shots turned out. We then drove back to P & K’s for dessert. They had picked up a variety of desserts from a vegan bakery to sample.
Day 2: Day-Trip Around the Area
This morning we woke up to a damp and dreary day. It was blustery and lightly raining outside. According to the weather forecast the bulk of the rain had passed and it was supposed to clear up later in the afternoon. We had plans for the day to drive around the southern shore of Georgian Bay and check out the neighbouring towns. After eating breakfast we headed out to first pick up doughnuts. Priorities.
Nicky’s is reputed to have the best doughnuts in town, which are all freshly handmade. We arrived at Nicky’s a few minutes prior to opening as according to P & K, they often sell out on the weekend. Since it was the long weekend, we didn’t want to take any chances.
Once we secured our doughnuts we drove to the Blue Mountain Village, which is an alpine ski resort situated on a section of the Niagara Escarpment. Every winter thousands of tourists flock here to ski and snowboard. Apparently it is one of the largest resorts in Ontario and is the third-busiest ski resort in Canada.
It felt like we stumbled into Europe with its cobblestone streets. Much of the village felt deserted as all the shops and restaurants were still closed due to the stay-at-home order. In some ways maybe it was better this way as it wasn’t crowded.
By the time we finished exploring the Village, we drove to the nearby Craigleith Provincial Parkto eat our doughnuts by the water. Craigleith is a relatively small park that is famous for its offshore fishing, discovering fossils along the shore and it’s great views of Georgian Bay. We walked through an empty campsite and found a nice spot along the rocks overlooking the water.
After exploring Craigleith, we hopped back in the car and drove to Thornbury. We happened to pass the Thornbury Village Cider and Brew House along the way, which seemed like a good sign to pick up some cider. Unfortunately Ontario is still under a stay-at-home order and their patio was closed. However, they were open for pick-up. Alcohol is considered essential after all. We selected a few interesting sounding flavours and continued our drive along Georgian Bay.
By this time the clouds were starting to clear and the sun was poking out. We parked downtown and headed towards the Thornbury Harbour. Along the way we picked up some ice cream.
Thornbury Harbour is located at the south end of Nottawasaga Bay at the mouth of the Beaver River. Because of COVID, many of the boats were still out of the water.
During our walk through the harbour, we came across the Georgian Trail, which spans 34km along the southern shore of Georgian Bay between Collingwood and Meaford. We followed the path for a short stretch along the Beaver River and learned more about the history of the Thornbury dam.
We circled back towards the car and continued our drive through Thornbury into Meaford. We made another detour to drive by some of the houses along the shore and stopped at Christie Beach Conservation Area. With a sandy shore and picnic tables, this looked like a great place to go for a swim. Too bad we didn’t bring our bathing suits, although the water was probably too cold still.
At last we made it to our final destination of the day at Meaford. We drove through the town and stopped at a picnic area along the shore of Georgian Bay. We picked up a box of timbits (because clearly we haven’t had enough sweets today), grabbed a couple of ciders that we bought earlier from the Thornbury Village Cider and Brew House and found a picnic table overlooking the water.
The drive back to Collingwood was much quicker as we didn’t make any stops along the way. It was now time to eat a proper meal!! We spent the remainder of the evening playing cards and just relaxing.
Day 3: The Drive Back Home
We may have gotten too much sun yesterday. I had regrets about not wearing sunscreen and drinking enough water. But that didn’t stop us from going for a hike on the drive back to Toronto. I had more regrets about that later. After eating breakfast we headed out to go for a hike at Duncan Escarpment Provincial Nature Reserve since it’s close to Collingwood. It felt good to burn off all the sweets and treats from yesterday.
That concludes our visit to the Blue Mountains. While all the shops and many of the restaurants were still closed due to the stay-at-home order, in some ways it felt nice to explore this area without having to elbow our way through the crowds.