Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: June 2021
The Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve is a non-operating park located on the Niagara Escarpment just south of Georgian Bay. It offers some great hiking opportunities along the Bruce Trail and contains a few other side trails that weave through forested slopes, on top of the Escarpment, and through caves and crevices.
There are a few parking options that provide access to Nottawasaga Lookout. We parked at the most popular one along the shoulder of Osprey Clearview Townline. From there we walked along the road until we came across a sign for the park. We found an opening through the forest that leads to the Bruce Trail.
There are a few interconnecting trails which form a series of loops through the nature reserve. We hiked along all of them last summer so for this visit we decided to just hit up the highlights. It was hot and humid and we needed to make more progress on packing.
From the entrance, we turned right and followed the white blazes through the shaded forest. The path is relatively flat for the first stretch and there was a nice breeze which felt great in the heat.
After about a kilometre there’s a turnoff for the Singhampton Side Trail (190m), which provides a shortcut to another part of the Bruce Trail to form a 2.1km loop that will eventually leads back to the entrance where we parked.
We were on the side trail for a few minutes before the path branches out again. We headed right towards the Standing Rock & Caves Side Trail (630m), which is the main draw to this nature reserve. The side trail is marked with blue blazes and leads down the side of the Escarpment to a large rock pillar and series of large boulders, crevices and small caves.
The first stretch is relatively unassuming. The path continues to weave through the forest. After crossing a bridge, the terrain becomes rougher and rockier.
As we continued upwards and onwards, the rocks became bigger and bigger. We walked between large rock pillars, scrambled over and around some boulders and even had to crawl through a couple of small caves and crevices. To make things more interesting there was even a bit of ice and snow at the bottom of the ravine.
It was nice and cool down in the ravine and we were a bit reluctant to climb out. But all good things must come to an end. The plus side is that the scramble back up was a lot of fun.
Once we made it out of the ravine, it’s a few hundred metres back to the entrance of the nature reserve and parking area.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here