Length of stay: 1 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.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here
69 thoughts on “Duncan Escarpment Provincial Nature Reserve”
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
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.
Another fine hike. That incredible sweeping canvas of green from Pillar rock is impressive.
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!
Wow! That looks so green there!
It’s crazy to think that about a month ago this area would have looked completely different as by then the leaves were only starting to bud. In the spring the forest seems to just transform overnight. It was a bright and sunny day so I appreciated the abundance of shade from all the trees!
I bet the shade was welcome! I love the cooling effects from trees. You can really feel it on a hot day!
Definitely!! It’s crazy how the shade can create a huge difference in the temperature on a hot summer’s day!
That’s why I love trees!
Trees are so underrated. I recently bought a book that provides more information on the types of trees found in Algonquin Provincial Park.
It’s so lush and green, I love it!
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!
If only that lush greenery could last all year…
Ha! If only! My favourite time to hike is actually in the fall when the leaves are changing colour. Soon after they fall from the trees and the first snowfall is right around the corner. It’s pretty incredible how the landscape changes so drastically with the seasons.
It looks like you had good weather and a terrific hike. We are starting to get our hiking legs back under us – starting off gently. 🙂
That we did! It’s always great to take advantage of the nice weather on the weekend and spend time outdoors. I don’t blame you for starting off gently given the recent heat wave in BC!! Happy hiking!!
Looks like it was a beautiful day for a hike. Love the view overlooking the treetops.
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.
A bit of everything on this route … beautiful views (over so much greenery), a rocky pathway with a ladder and even a boardwalk towards the end! Sounds like the perfect hiking day (with great weather 🌞).
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.
Very green. Nice ladder and wooden walkway. Could’ve done with such things on a recent hike!
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!
Everything looks so lush and green and I love those elevated board walks!
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.
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.” 🤣
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.
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! 😊
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.
That’s a good point re: fall. And agreed. I always feel like summer is just flying by. Enjoy your weekend!
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.
There seems to be a lot of rain forecast this summer! But at least it helps keep it cool. Enjoy the sunshine! 😊
That’s true!! I haven’t had my AC on in almost a week. It’s kind of funny how they were calling for a hot and dry summer here and it’s been the complete opposite!!
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.
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.
Your descriptive posts and enticing photos prompted me to get out and do a little hiking this past weekend. Thanks for all of the inspiration.
Oh that’s wonderful!! Being out on the trail and spending time in nature is my happy place. It’s a great way to get some exercise and fresh air and just clear my head.
We are so lucky to have the Niagara Escarpment so close, offering us so many scenic opportunities.
Hope your big move is going well!
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!
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🙂
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.
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!
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!
900 km is pretty darn impressive. Wow! Again, I learned something today. You are an amazing resource!!!
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.
Considering how old the province of Ontario is, it’s good to see they are still expanding the parks. Well done!
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.
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.
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.
A great place to hike. Beautiful images.
Thanks for your kind words. The Bruce Trail is always a classic area to hike in Ontario. It spans across the Niagara Escarpment and there is no shortage of great trails to chose from.
Loving all the green! Looks like a beautiful day for a hike 🙂
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.
The view from Pinnacle Rock is very special! Lifts the spirit for sure 🙂
I wish I took picture of one of us against Pinnacle Rock for scale. It’s incredible how large that rock is. Glad we weren’t around when it broke off from the face of the Escarpment!
Those escarpment views … wow! Beautiful photos.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
Beautiful peaceful greens. Thanks for sharing a very calming hike.
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.
The Bruce Trail is a real gem. I have only explored small segments. This looks awesome—so lush and green.
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!
It’s all worth it when you see Pinnacle Rock! And also I love those boardwalks. Nice post.
Thanks for your kind words and for commenting. In retrospect I should have taken a picture of one of us infront of Pinnacle Rock for scale as it really is massive. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have been there when this portion of rock split off from the side of the Escarpment.
I would have loved seeing that photo. Maybe next time?
Next time for sure. I have a tendency to just focus on my surroundings and take pictures of that and forget to snap a couple pictures of us.