A Hike Through Lion’s Head Provincial Nature Reserve
On a recent trip up the beautiful Bruce Peninsula to Tobermory I stopped to take a hike through Lion’s Head Provincial Nature Reserve. Lion’s Head is an over 500 hectare reserve located half way up the Bruce Peninsula on the northeast coast. The small town, and the reserve itself are named for the rock formation located on the escarpment’s rock cliff. The rock formation looks like the regal face of a lion with the green forest growth as its wild mane.
Cool Tip: Lion’s Head is actually exactly halfway between the north pole and the equator.
We parked in a parking lot near the end of Moore Street, where the Bruce Trail – McCurdy trailhead is located. Overly excited and anxious to hit the trail we forgot our water, breaking one of my number one hiking rules. More on that later. We headed off down the trail and through a serene forest full of song birds, providing the soundtrack to our hike. From forested trails to peaceful meadows and past fragrant cedars, the hike was peaceful. We didn’t see a soul for the longest time, having the forest to ourselves. The trail was very rugged, we scrambled over rocks of the Niagara Escarpment, thanking myself for wearing my hiking shoes.
One of the cool aspects of the reserve is that it’s home to various potholes, and I’m not talking about traffic hazards. These potholes were created and carved out of the rock by water after the last ice age. These geographical wonders come in varying sizes and one such was big enough for me to sit in and even crawl up and through.
After awhile we could feel a different sort of breeze, and smell the sweet, fresh water. We knew we were close to the cliffs. Scaling a steep rock path we stopped in out tracks at its peak. There before us the trees parted to unveil beautiful blue sky and as we treaded softly out onto the rocky cliff an incredible vista blew us away. Silence, except for the brisk wind rustling the trees. We looked at each other, both with smiles from ear to ear. It was one of many lookouts found along the trail, and not even the infamous Lion’s Head Lookout. But it completely blew me away. The reward for the hike was this stunning view over Georgian Bay, the Niagara Escarpment’s limestone cliffs, and wild, untamed nature at its finest.
Sitting there for awhile, with one foot dangling off the edge, I soaked it all in. The sweeping views, the turquoise clear waters below, and the vultures soaring overheard, all somehow grounded me – even 200 feet up on a cliff.
Did you know: The cliffs of Lion’s Head, part of the Niagara Escarpment, support one of the oldest and least disturbed forest ecosystems in North America.
Afterward we checked out a few other lookouts, including the Lion’s Head Lookout, where you can see the Lion Head rock formation. But strangely enough they didn’t touch us like that first one did. That’s not to say they weren’t spectacular. Maybe it was because we were dehydrated, as we’d forgotten out water in the car. Truth be told we were starting to lose steam, and desperately craving water. It didn’t help looking out over endless vistas of the sweet blue. We may have been a little melodramatic as we sat on the trail and wished for water, but I doubt we’ll ever forget water AGAIN!
Our hike through Lion’s Head Provincial Nature Reserve felt like a magical one. With birds singing, ice age potholes, and stunning lookouts, Lion’s Head solidified itself at the top of my list of favourite trails.
Level of Difficulty – Intermediate to Difficult
Time – 2 to 6+ hours depending on trail
Parking – Free parking lot near end of Moore Street