Duncan Escarpment Provincial Nature Reserve

Length of stay1 day
Visited
May 2021

Duncan Escarpment Provincial Nature Reserve is located just west of Collingwood along the Niagara Escarpment. Due to seasonal extremes in temperatures and the forces of gravity, large boulders have broken off from the main face of the Niagara Escarpment, creating a series of crevice caves. While Duncan Escarpment is a non-operating park, the Bruce Trail runs through here and features a few trails for hiking.

We spent the May long weekend in Collingwood visiting P & K in their new house. On the drive back to Toronto we figured we’d stop at Duncan Escarpment to go for a hike since it’s in the area. And it was a beautiful day outside. We parked at the entrance along 9th Sideroad. There’s a small parking lot, but most people just park along the shoulder of the road. I guess at some point the name of this nature reserve changed as the park sign read Duncan Crevice Caves instead.

From the entrance we followed the white blazes along the Bruce Trail through the forest. After 700m the trail leads to an open field and reaches a junction. We planned to hike a 9.7km loop through the nature reserve so it didn’t really matter which way we went. We turned right and continued along the Bruce Trail as there was another pair of hikers that went straight along the Chuck Grant Side Trail. We’d rather hike alone.

From the open field the trail winds back into the forest and along the edge of the Escarpment. There are a few scenic lookouts from the trail that provide nice views of the surrounding area.

The trail leads to Pinnacle Rock, a tall pillar of rock that broke off from the main face of the Escarpment.

From this point the path gets progressively more rugged and rocky. We followed the white blazes down the side of the Escarpment and into the valley below. The path then crosses Mill Creek before leading back up the Escarpment towards Metcalfe Rock in the Kalapore Uplands. There are a few other interconnected trails here, so we made sure to stay on the path marked with the white blazes.

The Bruce Trail meets back up with the Chuck Grant Side Trail (3.4km one-way). We turned off at the sign for the side trail and followed the blue blazes through the forest and down the Escarpment, scrambling down and around large boulders. There’s even a ladder at one point to help climb out of the rocky gorge.

The path crosses back over Mill Creek and from here it’s a short stretch back to the main trail and parking area.

Overall it took us about 3 hours to complete the hike. It felt good to be out on the trail even though we were a bit tired from spending the long weekend at P & K’s.

L

My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

69 thoughts on “Duncan Escarpment Provincial Nature Reserve

  1. kagould17 says:

    A beautiful area for sure. Love the scenic lookout shot and the scramble through boulders. The signage seems very well done. A worthy place to hike and a beautiful day for sure. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’ve always enjoyed a trail with a little rock scramble. It’s like an obstacle course of large boulders to shimmy up, down, around and through. Thankfully the trail wasn’t too busy as I imagine this area can create a bit of a traffic jam. I am terrible with directions so I really do appreciate a well marked trail, especially when there are lots of junctions and side trails. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      That it was and with fabulous weather! It’s been neat to hike through the different seasons and watch as the landscape transforms from brown and barren to green and lush. Thankfully it was still early in the spring that the bugs weren’t out yet. Pillar rock was quite the sight and my pictures really didn’t do it justice. I’m glad that I was around when that piece of rock tumbled off from the side of the Escarpment!

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always a real treat to hike later in the spring when the trails are no longer muddy, all the leaves are out, and there is so much greenery throughout the forest. On a hot and sunny day, I definitely appreciated all the shade coverage!

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was a lovely day to go for a hike! We didn’t realize how far up the Escarpment we were until we reached the first scenic lookout that provided a panoramic view of the surrounding area. It was nice visiting later in the spring to see how lush the forest was. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. This hike was definitely unique and featured its own series of natural obstacles! It was so much fun scrambling around the large boulders and I’m glad we saved this part for near the end. It’s a good thing we had such nice weather as I’m sure those boulders would have been slippery in the rain.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s amazing how the forest can look so different later in the spring when all the leaves are out. I am definitely appreciative of all the human made structures along the trail, like the ladder, to help us cross some sketchy terrain! Otherwise I’m pretty sure we’d still be stuck in that gorge!

      Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s remarkable how lush the forests are later in the spring and during the summer. It was a bright and sunny day outside and I was definitely grateful for all the shade coverage! I’m always such a fan of boardwalks. Since the ground is more even I’m able to look around at my surroundings a lot more rather than having to focus on not tripping over rocks and roots! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ab says:

    What a beautiful area and the photos you shared are lovely! Must be very nice to have a hub now out of Collingwood too!

    That looks like a nice decent and scenic hike too. Will have to add this to the wishlist.

    And maybe I’ve been couped up inside too long but the first thing I thought of when I saw the park sign was “Don’t shoot people” then later realized it meant “No hunting.” 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There is such great hiking around Georgian Bay. The trails are usually more challenging, but the views are incredible. It’s definitely nice to now have family in Collingwood! I couldn’t help but laugh that the first thing you thought of when looking at the park entrance sign was “don’t shoot people”, which pretty much is the same as “no hunting”, right? Haha. Thanks for the good laugh! Happy Fri-yay! Have a wonderful weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ab says:

        I think one of the things I will lament this summer is not getting to see Georgian Bay. Maybe if it’s still warm in Labour Day weekend, I’ll sneak in a weekend trip. 🤞🏻

        Enjoy your weekend. Woohoo! 😊

        Like

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        There never seems to be enough time (or vacation days). The early fall is probably one of the best times of the year to visit Georgian Bay as it’s not as crowded and the water is at its warmest. Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Same. It’s hard to believe that it’s already mid-July. Where does the time go!? I’m so thankful that the sun is finally out. It’s crazy how much of a difference it can make on my mood. I might as well enjoy it as the forecast is calling for more rain all next week. Enjoy your weekend as well. Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lookoom says:

    The Niagara Escarpment offers many hikes with always beautiful views of the area. In addition, near Collingwood there is a view of Georgian Bay which adds a touch of blue to the green of the forest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. The hiking is usually more challenging around Georgian Bay with all the steep cliffs and ragged rocks, but it’s usually more rewarding as the views overlooking the water are beautiful. I’d love to squeeze in some more hikes closer to Tobermory this summer, but we’ll see if we have time.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Some of the best hiking in Ontario can be found along the Niagara Escarpment. It’s incredible how long it is and it’s so amazing that we have the Bruce Trail that runs the length of it in Ontario. There are definitely many scenic viewpoints that are fabulous to visit throughout the seasons.

      I’m happy to say that we’re fully moved in. It’s been quite the adjustment. Owning a house is definitely a lot more work than renting an apartment! It seems like there is a never-ending list of things to take care of inside and outside the house. But it’s been good so far and I’m enjoying the extra space and the fact that we have an actual backyard now. I also can’t get over how quiet it is outside of the city and how I don’t have to wait in traffic or in line very often!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Christie says:

        Glad to hear you are settling in! That’s a big step, and you might need the whole year until taking care of everything, but hey there is always next year LOL LOL The quietness is something, but you might end up enjoying it🙂

        Like

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        That’s so true! It’s so easy to push something off because there are a million other things to take care of! I can definitely see it taking a year (or years!) to take care of everything on our list. It’s always nice to have something to work towards though and I’m sure it’ll help keep us busy.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. alisendopf says:

    I have heard so much about the Niagara Escarpment. Thanks for doing a trip to that area. I would love to see more. For a non-operating park, this trail has some seriously good signage and distance markers. Definitely makes navigation easier.
    I love the low boulders to scramble through. The ladder is a nice touch, as I imagine the green moss is fairly slippery.
    As always, I’m learning so much about Ontario. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s amazing how we have a trail in Ontario that spans the length of the Escarpment from Nigara to Tobermory. It’s nearly 900km and we’ve hiked just over a third of it to date. I’d love to be able to hike every section someday. Agreed, non-operating parks can be hit or miss in terms of signage, but the trails in this one were very well marked. Rock scrambles are my favourite. This one wasn’t very intense, but it was still fun to shimmy up, down, around and through some of the large slabs of rocks. It helps shake things up and provides something different while hiking!

      Liked by 1 person

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        The Bruce Trail is pretty incredibly. They are still actively purchasing property around the Escarpment to expand the trail. It’s nice that we have so many hiking options in Ontario. It usually requires a bit of a drive to escape the crowds though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure. There’s been a real demand for green spaces even prior to the pandemic (and the pandemic only made it worse). The only issue is that it’s hard to expand or create new parks anywhere close to the Greater Toronto Area.

        Like

      • alisendopf says:

        I can only imagine! GTA is massive, and only getting bigger. Hence their desire to build on top of that ancient moraine you wrote about earlier. The pressure must be intense.

        Like

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        You bet. Housing is pretty much the only thing propping up our economy right now, so I don’t imagine they’re going to cool the brakes on new developments anytime soon. And there’s clearly a huge demand for housing.

        Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was a warm and sunny day, so I was quite thankful for all the shade coverage from all the trees!! The trail was a bit challenging with all the ups and downs and rocks and boulders to scamper around, but the views overlooking the Escarpment made it well worth the effort. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for reading and for your kind words. It’s amazing how we have the Bruce Trail that spans the length of the Escarpment in Ontario. Some of the best hiking can be found along here. The terrain can sometimes be challenging, but it’s usually always worth it for the views.

      Like

  5. ourcrossings says:

    As well as burning some calories, hiking is a great way to explore Ontario parks, isn’t it? All you need is a pair of sturdy shoes, a rain jacket, some lightweight gear and you’re good to go. I have to say that the views from the scenic lookout over those lush forests that just seem to be going on for miles are truly staggering. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It sure is!! Exploring Ontario’s parks has also been a great way for us to learn more about the history and geology of a certain area. Hiking has been a great form of exercise for my body and my mind. It’s amazing how you really don’t need much gear, but proper shoes and a good attitude! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. rkrontheroad says:

    I have been on the northern end of the Bruce trail, up by Tobermorey. My brother has a friend who lives up there. Great place to hike. These are all so well maintained, nice to find a ladder to help you up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Tobermory is such a beautiful area in Ontario with its rugged coastline and crystal clear water. The hiking there is incredible. The terrain is usually more challenging, but the views are simply stunning. It’s always such a pleasure to hike along a well-maintained and signed trail.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was a hot and sunny day outside so we were thankful for all the shade coverage from the trees. It’s incredible how much cooler it feels in the forest than out in an open meadow. Hiking is always a great way to ease stress, relax and get some exercise in! Thanks for reading and commenting. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There are no shortage of hiking options in Ontario thanks to the Bruce Trail! We’ve hiked about a third of the entire trail. The only issue now is that if we want to hike along a new section, it’s a bit of a drive!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s