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
39 thoughts on “Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve”
What an interesting place. Love the shady trail shot and the rocky area reminds me of the large landslide we had to clamber through on our 3 day back country hike at Citadel Pass. Thanks for sharing. Allan
I find maneuvering over, under, around and through large boulders and rocks so much fun. It adds an extra layer of adventure to the hike. I doubt I’d enjoy it as much with a multi-day backpack on though! Thanks for reading. Take care.
I just love caves and crevices. Looks like a nice park!
Same!! I love the earthy smell. Plus I find it so much fun to shimmy around and through small spaces (as long as it’s not muddy). It was much cooler down in the ravine, which made hiking in heat much more tolerable.
It looks a fun place for a hike with the shade from the trees and some negotiating around the boulders. Hope your week is going well. Marion
For sure. It was great that the path was well-shaded from the sun. Plus being down in the ravine provided some momentary coolness. I’ve always enjoyed a trail that involves a minor rock scramble. It becomes a bit of an obstacle course, which adds an extra challenge. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Enjoy the rest of your week.
You’re right, it definitely looks like fun towards the end 😁! Glad you could enjoy some shade and cooler temperatures down in the ravine.
We were saving the best for last! We were surprised to still see some ice down in the ravine considering it was June. I’m just thankful the ice wasn’t in any of the small caves we had to walk through as that would have added an extra challenge to the hike!
Sounds like another place to go to beat the heat!
Haha, you bet. It’s not your traditional way to stay cool! I’m glad the trail wasn’t too crowded as I can imagine the cave section being quite the bottleneck.
Looks like quite a rigorous hike you went on. Definitely keeps you guessing and on watch! And how is it possible that there’s snow and ice at this time of the year?!! You must’ve stepped through a portal or something. 🤣
The Standing Rock & Caves Side Trail was easily the highlight of this nature reserve. And yes, it definitely keeps you on your toes with having to maneuver around and through the large boulders and small crevices. It was wild seeing snow and ice at the bottom of the ravine considering it was June and how hot it was. No complaints as it was nice and cool down there and thankfully it was only in a small section.
The weather this summer has been wild for sure. I even remember hail at one point.
Have you encountered areas near the forest fires on your recent travels? I know that’s been a big issue this summer.
While we haven’t been near the forest fires (most of which are in northwestern Ontario), we’ve experienced a lot of haze from the smoke. It looked very eerie, almost overcast with the sun that looked faded.
Seems like a lot of fun! Those shaded hikes are great for hot summer days.
For sure. It’s always nice to shake things up and add an extra layer of adventure to a hike. The fact that this trail was shaded on such a hot summer’s day was a huge plus.
The rock formations are so interesting and a couple of your photos look a bit jungle-y. Must have been such a great hike. Nice that you hit a bit of a break from the heat. Cheers, Lynette
Some of the rock pillars were quite impressive. This was such an adventurous trail and I enjoyed climbing around and through the rocks. It was surprisingly quite lush in the ravine with all the moss and it was nice and cool!
That’s amazing to see ice in the summer, but it must have been refreshing in the heat!
Yes, it was very unexpected to see a bit of snow and ice still remaining on the ground in June. I’m glad that it didn’t obstruct our path otherwise this hike would have been super challenging. It did feel refreshing down in the ravine and it was a great way to beat the heat, that is until we had to climb back out!
Danger makes all experience thrilling. The adrenaline rush and satisfaction of being able to over challenge is unforgettable. Thanks for sharing this awesome adventure. Ravines are irresistible, butterflies in my tummy but will go closer anyways. Take care.
That it does. It’s good to get the heart racing sometimes and feel that sense of adventure. I’ve always enjoyed trails with a rock scramble and it’s a good way to sneak in some arm work as well! Enjoy the rest of your week. Cheers.
Getting a cool breeze is so nice, especially in one of these hot and humid days😀. Great hike, Linda!
Have a beautiful afternoon, Christie
For sure. We’ve had no shortage of hot and humid days this summer! Enjoy the rest of your week. Take care.
The rocks do add some variation to the wooded landscape. In my experience, as soon as they become difficult to cross in this area they are equipped with steps.
It’s always nice to shake things up on a hike. It was so much fun climbing around, over and through the large rocks and pillars. And yes, it’s always nice to have some built-in steps to help cross a particularly steep and challenging section.
What a lovely hike, Linda, with lots of forest shade which must be a very welcome bonus on a hot summer day! 🙂 The size of the boulders covered with green moss look gigantic, but I’d say you have to be careful in wet weather as they might be slippery. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva xx
For sure. It’s funny how the weather or season can create a totally different hiking experience. I definitely wouldn’t want to attempt this hike in the winter or early spring (because of the ice) or when it’s raining (because the rocks would be slippery). It was a fun way to spend the morning and a good way to stay cool while getting some fresh air. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend. Linda
Ice in the summer is crazy!!!
It was quite the surprise. I’m glad we didn’t attempt to hike through here earlier in the spring as I’m sure there would have been even more ice. It was nice and cool down in the ravine though, which was a welcome relief from the heat. Thanks for reading.
Thank you for taking us through another beautiful Ontario park. You sure know how to get off the beaten path. Are these parks busier or less busy on certain days or times of the day?
Thanks for your lovely comment. We’ve been making the most of spending time in Ontario. The parks have definitely been busier this year, especially compared to last year. We usually try to head out first thing in the morning before the trail becomes crowded. Weekdays are significantly less busy than weekends. Now that public health restrictions are easing and we’re able to travel outside of Ontario, the trails haven’t been nearly as crowded. Hopefully it stays that way!!
That would definitely be nice. I prefer nature when it isn’t too crowded. But then I prefer most places when they are not crowded. 😉
Same, it’s such a great feeling to have the trail all to yourself. I don’t feel rushed and I can take my time without having to worry about other hikers trying to get around me.
Nice!!!! There’s an app I use for finding hiking trails and navigating paths/routes (here in NY). Do you know if there’s such an app there?
Someone recently told me about the AllTrails app, which is supposed to help with navigation and identifying trails in the area. I’ve been meaning to download it to try it out. So thanks for the reminder!
You’re welcome. That’s actually the app I have. It’s good. Didn’t realize it also covers Canada (I guess that makes good sense) and good to know.
Awesome! Good to know that it works well and that it’s being used in the US too. All the more reason for me to download it.
Yeah I think you’ll find it handy