Hiking the Bruce Trail: Fairmount to Epping

Some of my most cherished childhood memories involve hiking with my father on the Bruce Trail, a 800-kilometre hiking trail that snakes along the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario, from Niagara Falls to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula in Lake Huron.  My father was a busy man during my childhood, often working two and three jobs at a time so my mother could be at home with us three boys most of the time.  This is something I now deeply appreciate.  At the time, all I knew to feel was that these moments on the trail were special because of my father’s busy schedule.

Today, hiking the Bruce Trail is far more than a walk in the woods.   These walks connect me to a deeply emotional sense of identity.

So, I set forth a few years ago a goal to hike the entire 120+ kilometer Beaver Valley Section of the Bruce Trail, that section closest to where my parents live.  This is not an easy task when you live 700 miles away from the trail and cannot spend more than a half-day hiking each time we visit my parents.  Slowly but surely, in 5 to 10 kilometre spans, I am making progress.  I am about a third of the way to my goal.

The Beaver Valley Section

What follows are pictures from my most recent hike in late December (click on the pictures for larger versions).  This two-hour hike took me from kilometer 72.4 at the 3rd Line and Sideroad 22 up the escarpment, past the Seigerman and Fairmount Side Trails, to the 4th line by the Epping Lookout, past the Beaver Pond Lookout, and to my car on Sideroad 19 at kilometer 66.4.  Though it was only a few days after Christmas, there was not as much snow as you might think.  However, it was cold, especially at the top of the escarpment as the shrill north wind blew in from the lake.  There was not a single soul on the trail this day and, though there were animal tracks all about, no wildlife was spotted save a large chipmunk staring at me from a hole in a tree and two big dogs some farmer sent out after me when I accidentally stepped off the trail on to his property.

Looking back down the trail into the Beaver Valley along Sideroad 22

Middle of a Hardwood Bush

The crumbling foundation of an old structure near kilometre 70

Looking east to Loree Forest and the Georgian Bay near Collingwood from the top of the Escarpment

White blazes and single track -- iconic Bruce Trail

An icy Beaver Pond Lookout at kilometre 67.3

Bracket fungi

Looking southeast from Epping across the Beaver Valley towards Duncan and Metcalfe Rock