Bruce Trail Part 1 – Queenston Heights to Woodends

We started the trek on a pretty darn cold winter day but it turned out to be quite sunny so that made up for the chilly temperature. Once we got into a more wooded area, it helped shelter us from the wind.

Back in November 2013, as my friends and I discussed the possibility of hiking Kilimanjaro, we decided that as part of an on-going training routine, we’d work away at completing the entire Bruce Trail. It is approximately 890km (885km according to wikipedia) so it’ll take a while given that we intend on completing the entire trail in parts. I figured we’d begin in January but there have been some delays with myself getting the flu twice and other things in life that keep us busy. My optimistic self thought we might be able to tackle this in a year if we divided up the complete length of the trail into 52 weeks allowing us to tackle about 17km each week. Given that we’ve missed a number of weeks and we’re not tackling 17km just yet, I’ll aim for 2 years to complete this journey 🙂

The trail goes from Queenston in the Niagara region all the way up to Tobermory. I’d highly recommend purchasing a Bruce Trail membership and map because it isn’t the most straight forward trail with a lot of side trails and sections that pass through shared pieces of private property. I doubt we’d be able to find the trailhead in Queenston without the trail map!

We started the trek on a pretty darn cold winter day but it turned out to be quite sunny so that made up for the chilly temperature. Once we got into a more wooded area, it helped shelter us from the wind.

Starting off at the Bruce Trail Cairn in Queenston

Locating the cairn was pretty amusing.  We drove around and around this restaurant and Queenston Heights park until we finally spotted it.   Made for a great group photograph with some sort of government building in the backdrop.

Icy conditions on the trail, it was an interesting downhill slide

While the beginning of the trail was a walk through part of parking lot, it eventually transitioned into a more wooded area.  The trail began to get more interesting as we got closer to the sections of the trail that covered parts of the escarpment.  Some areas due to the conditions of the trail and the weather we were having in Ontario were pretty icy.  To avoid the really icy areas, we sometimes had to improvise and find a different route to get down hill.  I guess we could have tried some bum sliding!

Heading down some well maintained steps along the trail

I am pretty accustomed to actually hiking trails that are quite isolated from urban environments so it was a different experience to be walking through the wooded area and see that the road was just next to us.  I understood why — it was just … different, but I appreciated it because it made for an interesting juxtaposition and perspective of urban development and growth in these areas against the conservation efforts of many organizations and individuals.

Sections of complete layers of ice on the trail made for a longer trek

Along the way, there were sections of the trail involved walking down small gravel roads meant for vehicles.  Unfortunately these had turned into one long skating rink.  This meant a lot of shuffling on our hiking boots.  Fun for the inner kid, but made for a longer trek.  We came across other hikers who were shuffling along as well and were mutually amused by our situation.

Trekking past a nice partially frozen pond or reservoir

Once we got past the “treacherous” skating rink, we came across a beautiful pond or reservoir near some undeveloped land.  I’m guessing the land was cleared but it just wasn’t put into use … yet.

Tranquil wooded area and stream along the way on the Bruce Trail

There were a lot of sections of the Bruce Trail that were just plain road or in some cases crossing through a part of the backyards of suburban areas.  We’d joke about how we’d probably end up hiking past a Walmart at some point but thankfully, we enjoyed sections of the trail where it was more tranquil.  We also stopped on a part of the trail near the railroad tracks to enjoy lunch.

We were supposed to cross through this tunnel but due to water levels, we went another route

Further into the trail, we had to cross bridges and some pretty deep streams (only because of the weather).  This meant a lot of stone hopping or creative bridgework.  At one point, the trail map had indicated we were supposed to walk down this tunnel below the railroad tracks but the water level was too high for our boots so we climbed up and over the railroad tracks over to the other side.

Dirt road section of the Bruce Trail

Eventually after making our way past some more suburban backyards, we found ourselves on this dirt road.  Heading down this road, there are some side trails that you can take so keep your eyes peeled.

Finishing off the first part of the Bruce Trail - note the mall in the distance

There are some more interesting sections of the escarpment to see along the way and we finally ended the hike at Woodend Conservation Area.  Not too far away from the conveniences of civilization too.  While it wasn’t the most exciting hike I have been on, the trail has been interesting — especially in the way that it winds through neighbourhoods and some areas with historical significance — like Laura Secord’s route to warn the British of an American attack.

Looking forward to tackling the next part of the Bruce Trail!  In the meantime, take a look at the full gallery from this trek.

Author: Ehren Cheung

An explorer of life and data. Reluctantly philosophical. A seeker of the ultimate cookie. Another tree-friendly soul with an affinity for hiking and sketching.

2 thoughts on “Bruce Trail Part 1 – Queenston Heights to Woodends”

  1. Hi there! Just perusing your blog—I’m looking at embarking on the Bruce Trail in sections, and I’m wondering how you deal with transportation. Assuming you drive to the trailhead, how do you retrieve the car when you’re done the section hike? I’ve only ever hiked loops. Any tips?


    1. Hi — thanks for dropping by! We’re actually in a fortunate situation where we use two cars so we are able to cover a lot more distance than quite a few other folks I’m aware of who are also hiking the Bruce Trail. Some folks turn around and hike all the way back, others hike on the road back to their car.
      As an alternative to using two cars — what you might want to consider is a bicycle. My friends and I have given it some thought and discussed it at some point. You can lock a bike to a nearby tree or metal post (if one is available) that your finish point is located — then drive to your starting point. Then you can unlock your bike and cycle on the road to your car afterwards. Good luck and enjoy!


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