Bruce Peninsula National Park – Camping

We’re Baaaak from CYPRUS LAKE…

The weather was perfect, the water was crystal clear and warm, the sun was always shining, and at night the stars were most brilliant overhead.

This was three days in Heaven…

This picture on the left is a few steps from our lakeside campsite, a simple portage and the canoe was ready to go.
The swimming was amazing, especially at the Grotto on Georgian Bay; the hike took about twenty minutes from our camp. A must see, the Grotto, and a must dive and swim area.

We reserved two campsites via the Internet back in February to ensure this trip’s success. The camp ranger said this was a good idea, in that this is becoming the only way to get a campsite these days. “People come from all over the world to camp here,” she said as I was registering our vehicles.

This is campsite 116, the second site from the swimming area. In the background is Cyprus Lake, a minute’s walk.

This fire would have kept the bugs away, except we were lucky; there were no bugs.

On the second day we ventured out from our camp and headed east along the trails leading to the Grotto on Georgian Bay. The hike took about thiry minutes with a few stops for photo-ops. One stop was mandatory; a woman, hiking alone, warned us to “watch out for your dogs as there is a rattler crossing the path ahead.” We thanked her as she did not stop to chat and continued eastward. I had previously warned the group they should get some walking sticks, but only the two grandsons adhered to this request. Good thing. We led the pack with our sticks swaying back and forth in hopes to see this dangerous creature. Rounding the second curve in the bark covered pathway we saw the snake. All of the group held back on the path, stopping in just a spot so they could get a peek, but not a bite. The grandsons and I kept on, looking on both sides ot the path into the foilage for any signs of this monster. A sudden scream let loose from one of the boys as he spotted the villain crossing directly before us. The mothers in the group were frantically issuing orders to stay away, of course that fell on deaf ears as we inched our way closer to get a good look at the Massasaga Rattler. “Don’t get any closer we can hear his rattle,” they cried out. I quickly grabbed my Sony Cybershot P72 and snapped a couple of pics for future reference and proof of course. The snake continued on his slippery way, slithering across our path and disappearing into the bush.

It is said that, “Dividing Lake Huron from Georgian Bay, Bruce Peninsula belongs amongst thoses places in Canada famous for their rare beauty and ecological importance.” Of further interest is the rock formations on the Georgian Bay side of the park: the grotto. These cliffs offer an interesting cave, one that you can climb down into (providing your body will fit through the very narrow entrance) and come out at a grotto filled with a pool of cool, clear water. The cave is dome-shaped, rock all around with a pool of water jutting against the east wall of rock. Directly below this wall is another cave, an underwater cave that leads out into Georgian Bay. This is where the scuba divers come from the dive boats anchored off shore on the other side of the massive cliff. This picture on the right shows the entrance to the groto from the side (to the right of Jason’s backpack), and the top entrance is directly above by the trees.

To swim under this cliff you enter the underwater cave from the grotto in this picture and swim out below the rock until you reach Georgian Bay where the dive boats wait. The picture on the left, Jason is standing on the west side of the wall with the grotto entrance to his right. Watch out though, the rocks are extremely slippery to walk on to get inside the cave. Once you are in the cave, an area about 60′ X 40′, you will find the pool. At the southern end of the pool you can stand up and still breath. Small children jump off the rock’s edge in this area, but there are warning signs that people have died jumping in this cave, so beware. The pool of water you come to first while inside is deep, yet the water is crystal clear with an extreme visablity so you can see the bottom, but it will be over your head. This is where, if you have the nerve and capability, diving under the cliff and out into the waters of Georgian Bay begins. A warning though, make sure you are a very good swimmer for underwater dives, if not you probably will not make it alive. Be careful: while swimming through this underwater tunnel you will soon see sunlight and think that you have made it out…you have not. It is just the clearness of the water reflecting the sunshine. You still have quite a ways to go yet, as the rock overhead will stop you from getting any breath of air until you are completely outside of the tunnel. Good luck. I made it, but barely. Oh yes and one more thing, once you have made it out there is no place to stand, you have a high rock cliff to swim around northwest back to where Jason is standing. And again, the rocks are very slippery and dangerous. Have fun!

After I finally swam out of the underground cave and back to the grotto entrance we climbed back out of the cave (much harder to get out than in) and passed off a few looks from my wife for attempting the dive, we had lunch atop the cliff. What a view! Out to the east you can see several islands, including Flowerpot Island which is famous for the strange rock shoreline shaped as flowerpots. Originally there were three huge flowerpots, sixty feet high overlooking the Georgian Bay, created by the pounding waves, however one toppled over in 1903.

After a meal of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, a few munchies and drinks, we headed north over the rock and followed the curve westward heading back towards our camp. As you can see from this picture on the left, the rock continues along the entire shoreline. The water is very clear making this a dive-haven for those who like to risk lives LOL. We tried swimming in this area but again, the rocks were far too dangerous for a proper footing. It would be ok if you have snorkle gear, although mine was forgotten back at camp. Forgotton on purpose that is, because if I brough along my equipment, the grandsons would demand to bring theirs as well…not a good thing at the Grotto.

The hike took us further westward, still on rocky ground, however when one nears Horse Lake the pathway becomes easier in that there is not as much rock, however the inclines are testy. Make sure you have good hiking shoes as my daughter wore out the sole of her fairly new runnign shoes. Also, I do recommend you do some workouts prior to attempting any of these various activities. Hiking sounds so simple, yet in this section of the park it is just the opposite, but certainly worth the walk. Another warning is to be on the lookout for snakes, bears, and any other creatures that you fear. Make sure you have lots of water too as there is nowhere you can get a drink, MacDonalds and the other junk food joints are millions of miles from here, hopefully forever too.

Stopping at the crossroad junction, signpost diretions to Mar Lake, Georgian Bay Trail, and the Bruce Trail, an old hiker takes a well deserved rest break Of course, for the younger hikers on the right, well they took advantage of the stop to have some fun with the many bending trees in the forest. We are nearing our camp, travelling along the Cyprus Lake Trail which goes around the entire lake. We did not do this entire trail, however we did canoe across the lake to check out part of this trail.

MORE TO COME SOON…canoe and lake pictures…


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One Response

  1. Greg, your pictures are outstanding! By any chance are you Greg West whose mother’s name was Ione and whose sister’s name is Pam? If so, please contact me. I am Julie (Jackson) Hansen, your cousin.

    My e-mail address is: hfamily6@earthlink.net

    I sometimes connect with Grant and Brad on our family webpage.

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