With Canada’s big 150th birthday this year, Parks Canada is giving away free passes to their many parks throughout the country. I eagerly grabbed one as soon as it was announced that I was going to be able to travel to some of my most wanted places without spending a dime. I took this time to plan a much-needed road trip to Tobermory. With the hopes of arriving at the Bruce Peninsula National Park early, we were looking forward to taking a hike to the grotto and being some of the first people into the cool water that day. We had plans of jumping from the cliffs, exploring the unique terrain and showing our friends just how beautiful Canada can be. Well, we arrived at the park an hour and twenty minutes after it opened and surprise! Every other hiking connoisseur and adventure seeking Canadian had the same idea. Parking was completely booked for the entire day and we were just a little out of luck.
Now, to say that we were a little disappointed would be an understatement but anyone who has been to Tobermory will know that the area is bursting with beauty and we were determined to experience some of it. We ended up in the Fathom Five National Marine Park, an eight minute drive from our original destination. Stepping out of the car we reached a visitors center with a mini gallery, informative staff and god-bless ’em: running water and bathrooms. We started along the Bruce Trail, detouring on the scenic Burnt Point Loop, a 4.5km hike with ample views of the Georgian Bay.
Lookout spots along the sideloop trail
There are many lookouts along the way as well as areas for a nice cool dip. After completing the loop we continued on the Bruce Trail for a whopping six hour hike. The terrain and views were unlike anything I had experienced before. There were rocky parts, sandy bits, deep woods, shorelines and even a rope to use to assist you up some particularly challenging boulders. This is a perfect area for both experienced and first time hikers – and did I mention that the views were breathtaking?
After returning to the parking lot we climbed the look-out tower and took in our surroundings, high above the tree tops we could see the Georgian Bay and surrounding islands. You should be warned that this structure sways in the wind and is quite the spot for tourists. We ended the day with all you can eat fish and chips at a dive called Shipwreck Lee’s Pirate Bistro. A bit of a kitchy place with a warm heart and cold beer. Plus, all of the wait staff were dressed in Pirate attire and I think we were all thinking that this is the most amazing way to end off our unexpected day.
While our time in Tobermory didn’t quite go as planned we all know that there will always be another day, another adventure and another six in the morning wake up call to make it to that grotto.