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Ride The Bine – Safe Wine and Beer Tours in Ontario

Amanda from Ride The Bine hosted me (again) and my colleagues on this tour so we can witness first hand how to safely take beer and wine tours during our current times.

Welcome to the summer of 2020. It will affectionately be forever known as the summer where we couldn’t go anywhere except exploring in our own backyard. While the past few months have been utter emotional garbage for many, including myself, I’m turning my thoughts to the silver linings. There are a lot of positives on staying local, less travel time in the air with the kids and hearing them ask “are we there yet?”. I’m becoming an expert in southern Ontario. Seeing some of the same highways in different directions and at different times of day means seeing something new all the time. On that vein, once again, I find myself in Norfolk County.

Happily, I’m back on Ride The Bine, a fully guided beer and wine tour with my friends and fellow co-founders of the Toronto Bloggers Collective, Chris Mitchell and his wife Bri, Chris Rudder and Kevin Wagar. We are safely, in our new COVID style world order, reconnecting and enjoying some social distancing fun.  It’s been months since we’d all laid eyes on each other in person and I cried like a baby all over Chris Rudder’s shoulder. For real, wrecked my eye make up before I even left Toronto. This period has been hard on everyone.

Back to our day trip – Ride The Bine was started in March of 2017 by Amanda and Susan – 2 local girls with a passion for all things Norfolk. Amanda was our tour animator for the day and she is FUN!

We are just about to board the Ride The Bine van at the Sobey's in Simcoe, it's bine time!

Ride The Bine New Safety Measures

Since the last time I had been on Ride The Bine, there’s been a bit of a change in the world. A global pandemic, health safety measures, that kind of thing. Not to sound too blaise about the whole scenario, but at this point in the journey, we have to have a laugh about something somehow. And really, I need a laugh, so bear with me.

Boarding the Mercedes Benz sprinter van, all passengers are required to put their masks on. There is a clear plastic barrier between the driver and the passengers in the back. I’m going to admit, it’s right out of a strange parallel world. I’m a hugger and very physical. Yet, I’m restricted from touching others. Hands to myself! I can do it, I can do it…

Boarding the Ride The Bine van with hand sanitizer

We were limited to a maximum group amount of eight people. In total, our group size was 5. We were able to safely spread out between the four rows of the cab. We also had generous amounts of hand sanitizer pumped into the palms of our hands as we boarded. Hand sanitizer was everywhere we stopped.

Inside the sprinter van with Ride The Bine - barrier between driver and passengers

Stop # 1: Bonnieheath Lavender and Winery

Like many places in Norfolk County, Bonnieheath Lavender and Winery is a former tobacco farm. As we were lucky enough to visit in July, the lavender fields were IN FULL BLOOM. Like, perfect. Lavender is in bloom from approximately the last week of June through to the first week of August here.

If there is a reason to come to Bonnieheath in the summer, this is it. Excuse me, here are some obligatory lavender field photos with us.

The founders of the Toronto Bloggers Collective in the lavender at Bonnieheath Lavender and Winery
Photo courtesy of Ride The Bine

Bonnieheath Lavender and winery, Kevin Wagar dancing through the lavender fields

Bonnieheath Lavender field with me in it. Photo taken by Kevin Wagar

Onto the winery! I visited Bonnieheath two summers ago and fell in love with their ciders. Happy to say that they are just as good as I remember! Known for their Folkin’ Hard ciders – named after the county of Norfolk, they are a blend of 100% Norfolk apples, along with other local seasonal fruits including sour cherries, blueberries, and strawberries. Good information to note – Amanda from Ride The Bine is an apple grower and her apples go into the cider blend. Hometown proud!

The tastings here were done in their production facility, which is inside. We were served by the owner who was wearing a face mask and a face shield.

Tasting the ciders in Bonnieheath, owner is wearing a face mask and shield, safety first!

We sampled their Fresh Apple, Cherry Bomb (cherry), True Blue (Blueberry and Lavender), and their Sweet Lips (strawberry and maple syrup) ciders. My favourite is Cherry Bomb by a long shot. It’s all for sale in their shop and yes I bought a couple of bottles to take home. 

Also for sale in the shop is lavender products! Lavender is harvested and distilled in former tobacco kilns on-site. From there, they create their array of lavender products including soaps, pillow sprays, essential oil and sanitizer.

Bonnieheath Lavender and winery 3 - the ciders, We sampled their Fresh Apple, Cherry Bomb (cherry), True Blue (Blueberry and Lavender), and their Sweet Lips (strawberry and maple syrup) cider

Stop #2: Burning Kiln Winery

 

For the third time, I find myself at one of the biggest and best wineries in all of Ontario – Burning Kiln Winery. The wines here pay homage to farm’s history as they are named after some element of tobacco farming. 

Before I talk about the wines, I’m going to tell you about their safety measures. In a usual year, Burning Kiln is host to multiple outdoor concert events and the vineyard provides a stunning backdrop for hosting weddings. The tastings were taking place in the outdoor canopy as weddings are not happening on the property this year. The staff all behind plexiglass poured the sample into a shot glass and then the shot glass into our sample glass. The sample glass was reusable and we all got to take our individual glasses home with us.

Burning Kiln winery safely serving us the sparks

Having sampled some wines there in the past, I know a little bit about what I like the most here. Normally I go for a red, however since it’s summertime, a chilled white wine is my preferred drink. On this day, my favourite was the Sparks, a sparkling rosé made in the Cuvée Close method. Since I was there, I also bought the flagship red wine, Kiln Hanger. At $50 for a bottle, kiln-dried grapes, and barrel-aged for close to 3 years, it results in an incredibly flavourful and complex red. I’m going to save it for a special occasion.

Burning Kiln social distance tastings

Lunch: Canned Heat on the Patio at Burning Kiln

Canned Heat is in its 2nd year running food service on the patio at Burning Kiln Winery. With a huge focus on local food and ingredients and showcasing the best of what Norfolk, Ontario’s Garden has to offer, daily menu items feature local seasonal produce and a great variety of local fish fresh from lake Erie and local beef and lamb. Spoiler – I had the lamb burger and it was divine!

 

Stop #3: Hometown Brew Co. at Long Point Eco-Adventures

A couple of summers ago, my kids and I stayed at Long Point Eco-Adventures. Some craft beer on-site would have been nice. My wish has seemingly turned into a command!

Started by 3 local young guys in their 20s, here you can sip on brews and enjoy incredible views of the Turkey Point marsh, Lake Erie and Long Point. Hometown Brew Co. has several beer styles available to try including their famous Blueberry Saison featuring blueberries from the farm of one of the owners. The logo for Hometown Brew Co. features a lighthouse – reminiscent of the one in Port Dover and also Long Point. Being “home” at the lake is huge for Norfolk County folks – many residents own boats, cottages, or simply just enjoy being down at the beach after a long week of work, or a long hot day of working on the farm.

Hometown Brew tasting flight at Long Point Eco-Adventures

Here physical distancing is not a problem. Lining up for your beer, you have to adhere to markers on the patio. Tables are spaced fairly far apart so you can cheers your friends from a distance.

My favourite beers to try here are the Southern Ale and Southern Light. I also sampled the IPA and the Blueberry Saison.

Hometown Brew cheers to Christopher Rudder from Rudderless Travel

Stop # 4: Inasphere Wines

 

Want to know where to enjoy incredible views of the Inner Bay of Lake Erie and Long Point? It’s at Inasphere Wines? Currently a family-run, working vegetable farm and winery, this is the lowest elevation farm in all of Norfolk County.

Ryan and his wife Shantel, are the 3rd generation to own and work the farm. Ryan is a winemaker and studied at Niagara College and Jackson Triggs to hone his winemaking skills. What’s incredibly unique is that he has grown up on the property, manages the vines and also produces the wine. Very intimate knowledge of the land and what he is putting in bottle for people to enjoy.

Admiring the view with my glass of wine at Inasphere Winery in Norfolk County

We didn’t enter their building except to use the washroom, we conducted tastings outside from a distance. We sampled their Dry Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Grey Area (lightly pressed Pinot Noir – red grape but produced as a unique white wine), and also their Cabernet Franc. Grey Area was fantastic!

Enjoying the view at Inasphere winery

Having done this tour with Amanda and Ride The Bine, I can unequivocally say that our safety, social distancing and hygiene was of the utmost importance. I have confidence recommending this tour to anyone wanting a safe and enjoyable guided beer and wine tour with a fantastic animator who knows everything there is to know about the area!

And as a bonus, you might even be able to get a stop at Cider Keg Farm Market, a popular stop for boaters and cottagers to grab fresh, local produce to enjoy on their way to the lake. Ice cream, baked goods, meats, snacks, cheeses, preserves and a plethora of local produce is available for purchase. Heck, you’re in Ontario’s Garden, enjoy it!

Ride The Bine - Safe Wine, Beer and Cider Tours in Norfolk County. We safely re-connected, sampled some of the best cider, beer and wine Ontario has to offer and enjoyed some social distancing fun #itsbinetime #ridethebine #beertour #winetour #ontariosgarden

The Port Rowan Inn – Small Town Gem On Lake Erie

I was hosted at The Port Rowan Inn in January 2020 for a solo stay.

It was lovely and I would do it again. I’m not being coerced into a nice review.

The pace isn’t fast in the small town of Port Rowan in Norfolk County, in Southern Ontario. In this town with a population of 1300 on the shore of Lake Erie, you won’t find fast food establishments. In Port Rowan, you will find the County Fork, a local restaurant just over 3 years old that is happy to offer home-style breakfast, lunches, dinners, local goods, giftware and catering. There’s also The Boat House, a quaint fish and chip homestyle dinner restaurant overlooking the water. There are food trucks in the summer and a well-known ice cream shop. At the centre of it all is the newest gem of the town, The Port Rowan Inn, a boutique hotel with four eclectically decorated rooms and cozy modern amenities.

Owners, Sara and Ian took possession of the former CIBC building in November 2018. The PRINN opened on September 9, 2019.

Front vestibule of the Port Rowan Inn in Norfolk County

 

How The Port Rowan Inn Came To Be

Owners of The PRINN, Sara and Ian are proud Port Rowan residents. Almost by accident, they saw the unique home they now own, loved the quiet and fell in love with the contrast to the busy city.

After commuting to their jobs in downtown Toronto for years, they decided after starting a family they had enough of Bay Street and wanted to change up their work and life situation. The opportunity to purchase the former CIBC building came up and they jumped on it.

The address of the Port Rowan Inn has a long history in the town. Hanson House was a 1900 turn of the century establishment that burned down thanks to a kerosene lamp in 1907. From these ashes rose the St. Charles Hotel on this site. Rumour has it, a brothel was once operated in that hotel and as recent as the 1960s, a lady could not enter the Men Only Door or even Ladies and Escorts without an Escort.

Fire strikes again in the 1960s and St. Charles Hotel burns to the ground. A building was erected for National Trust in 1972, which later became CIBC. In July of 2018, the bank closed its doors.

Exterior of Port Rowan inn with historical photo in front of it marking the history of the block

 

Step Inside The Hotel In Port Rowan

Walking into the lobby, you’re wowed by the interior design, layout and artwork. Pride of ownership shows in every corner. It’s a considerable place to gather with friends or those who would be friends to have a glass of wine and an amazing conversation.

No restaurant on-site for guests, but there is a kitchenette to store some food and a coffee maker to get you going in the morning. The venue is licensed for alcohol,  but there isn’t a bar per see. If there is an event booked, or the whole venue booked, service can be arranged.

Lobby of the Port Rowan Inn

There are four cozy guest rooms in this converted bank. They are the signature Anchor Suite, The Bay Room, The Dockside Room and The Rowan Room. The names a nod to the nautical nature of Port Rowan being on Lake Erie.

Each room sleeps two people comfortably with either a King or Queen sized bed. I had the pleasure of staying in the signature Anchor Suite during a solo retreat.

Anchor Suite at Port Rowan Inn

While it was more space than I physically needed, it was a mental space that I treasured. A fancy washroom all to myself? Sliding into a king-size bed at night with no one to bother me? Freedom to move around? Check!

Each room has a walk-in shower, a flat-screen TV and there is complimentary wifi in the building.

The vast majority of the artwork in the lobby and the guest rooms is done by a local artist named Scotty. Scotty lives right up the street and all the artwork in there is for sale.

Reverse shot of the anchor suite in Port Rowan inn

 

Wine, Dine And Stay By The Bay

The Port Rowan Inn is perfectly situated for short getaways from hustle and bustle. Only 2 hours from Toronto, it’s an easy drive with great scenery. Plus you can walk out the front door of the Inn to the lake for stellar views.

Be sure to check out Ride the Bine – go for a wine tour (tell them I told you to!), have a nice meal in town and then stay at a cool hotel. There is a package you can book with the PRINN and Ride the Bine and you won’t have to think about doing anything other than reserving that package.

Seating area facing the door in Port Rowan Inn

How To Find The PRINN

Google maps decided to name the town of Port Rowan, Vittoria. No clue why. The PRINN can be found at 1007 Bay Street in Port Rowan, Norfolk County, Ontario.

Sara and Ian hope people come here and find what they love so much. The owner’s pride in the quaint town amenities and aesthetics. It’s a unique place. To make a booking at The Port Rowan Inn, be sure to visit their website linked here and tell them I sent you!

 

Things To Do In Port Rowan

Port Rowan is in Norfolk County in Southwestern Ontario and I have mentioned this area a few times in my writing. There are a few things I recommend doing and a lot you can find in this post here: Family Friendly Fun in Norfolk County, Ontario, looking to do a wine, beer or cider tour? Definitely contact and book your selves with Ride The Bine! Find out about my wine tour with the hostess with the mostess, Amanda here: Three Wineries In Norfolk County You Need To Get To With Ride The Bine

Just visiting the area for the day? Definitely take the time to revel in a trip on the lake with Long Point Island Hugger Tours and enjoy some time on a pontoon boat with Captain Graham. Visit Long Point Beach, take the kids to Carousel Stables, Backus Mill Conservation area, Long Point Bird Observatory Studies (once it reopens to the public), and of course, since you are in Ontario’s Garden, be sure to look for some fresh berries to pick, seasonally dependent.

There is quite a selection of antique and thrift stores in Norfolk County. If picking through dead people’s things is your hobby, the options are there! That is not a dig at antique shopping. merely the name of a popular antique store in Prince Edward County.

Top 5 Things to See And Do In Tobermory Ontario

One of my family’s favourite summer destinations is Tobermory, Ontario on the Bruce Peninsula. The first time we visited was in the summer of 2017. We designated Tobermory as a two night stop on our way to Lake Superior Provincial Park from Toronto.

The drive to Tobermory from our home in downtown Toronto is approximately 4 hours. However, with the rate at which my children (and ex-husband) need to exit the vehicle for a pee, hunger and leg stretching, it honestly took closer to 6, yes SIX hours at that time.

We enjoyed our time in Tobermory that summer so much that we decided we would return in the summer of 2018 as well. And you know what? It is safe to say, I will return again. Tobermory has an abundance of things to do!

Tobermory, Ontario Lighthouse

Here are our Top 5 things To See And Do In Tobermory, Ontario!

 

1.) Take a Boat Tour to see the two Shipwrecks in Big Tub Harbour

Really and truly, nothing beats scuba diving shipwrecks if you are a certified diver. If you are not a diver or a snorkeler or you are travelling with your children and do not have other care for them while you are on a dive, then viewing from a boat is the next best thing here. The two wrecks you can see in Big Tub Harbour in Tobermory are called Sweepstakes and City of Grand Rapids.

The Sweepstakes went down in 1885, spoiler alert – no treasures left and currently lies in roughly 6 metres of water. It is one of the best-preserved shipwrecks of its time in the Great Lakes. The City of Grand Rapids wreck is from 1907, it was a double-decker steamer that caught fire while mooring. It was released from the dock and left it to burn in the harbour. It sank where it lies.

Totally worth seeing – see if you can get on one of the glass bottom boats to do this!

Sweepstakes, shipwreck in Tobermory - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory #shipwrecks

 

2. Take a boat to Flowerpot Island

Flowerpot Island is only accessible by boat from Tobermory and is one of the best experiences in Fathom Five National Marine Park! The island is famous for its natural “flowerpot” rock pillars, caves, historic light station and rare plants. This is a great spot for easy to moderate level hikers – my kids had no problem. Here you will find great swimming and snorkelling, picnic areas and overnight camping if you are adventurous. Be sure to bring your bathing suit in a day bag with you and have sturdy shoes. Hiking pro-tip: I don’t recommend that you come in flip flops and try to do the hiking.

Flowerpot Island 3 - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

We were not prepared for the beauty here – it is so awe-inspiring! The water really is the colour of these photos – no filter! The rookie mistake we made when we went was not packing a cooler. There is really nothing to purchase here, bring your own food and water! Also, there are not a whole lot of places to dispose of garbage here, so please plan to take back with you what you bring.

Word of wisdom to the Instagram Models of the world – please do not try to climb the Flower Pots. It’s dangerous to you if you fall, but it’s also disruptive to nature. Imagine being the asshole who damages one of these natural structures so terribly that it changes the appearance?

Flowerpot Island 1 - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

There are a couple of boat charter companies to get you here from Tobermory, Ontario. You do have to pay for tickets to get out to the island and back. You can combine a shipwreck viewing tour or simply take an express boat direct and they have ticketed return times when they drop you off. According to the Parks Canada website, they recommend that you spend 4-5 hours to hike and see it all. Plan to spend the day – at least an afternoon, please don’t short change yourself on time here. Buying tickets from any of the suppliers in the harbour area of the town in advance is a good idea to ensure your plans for the day are not disrupted.

Flowerpot Island 2 - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

 

3.) Visit The Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park

The Grotto, found in Bruce Peninsula National Park, just outside of Tobermory, is a place that is so popular, we couldn’t get in the first year we tried. I severely underestimated that it is one of the top attractions in the province and that just showing up would suffice. It turns out it requires a little more planning to be able to see and experience this magical place.

We did our planning and did get into the Grotto in the summer of 2018. During the peak season of July and August, there are a couple of ways to make sure you are in Bruce Peninsula National Park and can access the Grotto:

1.) Be there already as a camper at one of the backcountry sites along Georgian Bay or in Cyprus Lake Campground.

2.) Reserve parking in advance if coming from outside the park. Parking is assigned by time blocks and only a certain amount of cars are permitted per time slot.

3.) Head up there in the off or shoulder seasons of April/May/June or September/October when the demand to visit is much less.

There’s a twitter hashtag you can follow for more information – #GrottoParking

As of June 1, some Parks Canada places began a safe, gradual reopening of some outdoor areas at national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.

Reservations for parking at the Grotto for the remainder of the 2020 season opened on Monday, June 29th, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. EDT. Important to note – Visitors will not be permitted to climb into the Grotto since physical distancing is not possible. Parks Canada is asking that you enjoy the view from above.

feet over ledge at grotto - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

 

4.) Have ice cream at The Sweet Shop on Bay Street

There’s this sweet little ice cream shop with a lot of brilliant Canadian flavours of yummy ice cream. Located at 18 Bay Street, overlooking Little Tub Harbour, the locally owned Sweet Shop makes candy, fudge, chocolate and brittle onsite. Come after dinner, sit and relax! Walk around and see the boats in the harbour with ice cream in hand, you won’t be sorry!

5.) Visit Singing Sands Beach

Singing Sands Beach is located off of Dorcas Bay Road south of Tobermory. This large sandy beach with shallow waters is part of Bruce Peninsula National Park. I admit, when my family rolled up to this beach, we were not impressed. It looked like it was full of weeds, there were not a lot of people there and it was windy. My family is a little spoiled. The kids are used to Prince Edward County and Caribbean beaches.

The water was warm and you could walk really far out before the kid’s lower bodies became submerged. The kids even had a good time. For those who are squeamish about things touching their feet in the water, I recommend wearing a pair of water shoes. It’s not really so bad once you walk out in the water for a bit. Admission here is free.

Tobermory Beach, singing sands beach - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

And as a bonus for you history buffs – there are historical walking tours available in town.

mariner's monument on Bay Street in Tobermory, Ontario

For those of you looking for the video blog – here you go!

 

 

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What You Need To Know About Going to The Grotto at Tobermory

The Grotto, in Bruce Peninsula National Park, has become one of Southern Ontario’s most popular tourist destinations in the summer. Located near Tobermory, it’s close to lots of other tourist destinations such as Fathom Five National Marine Park where you find Flower Pot Island. I have been the poor soul who once tried to get into The Grotto and was turned away due to the volume of people already there for the day. I learned the tactics and did make it in the following summer! Seeing quite a few posts on Instagram and Facebook during summer months from others who attempt to go to the Grotto and are turned away, I decided to put together this question and answer post of What You Need To Know About Going to The Grotto at Tobermory for other travellers before they attempt the journey and are disappointed.

What You Need To Know About Going to The Grotto at Tobermory

Due to the health pandemic that has spent the world, Canada is still being cautious. As of June 1, some Parks Canada places began a safe, gradual reopening of some outdoor areas at national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.  It will be at least June 29 before the following areas are reopened: The Parks Canada Visitor Centre, Grotto, Halfway Log Dump, Cyprus Lake Campground and the portion of the Bruce Trail between Crane Lake and Little

Reservations for parking at the Grotto for the remainder of the 2020 season opened on Monday, June 29th, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. EDT. Important to note – Visitors will not be permitted to climb into the Grotto since physical distancing is not possible. Parks Canada is asking that you enjoy the view from above.

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What Is The Grotto?

The Grotto is a shoreline sea cave with beautiful blue waters. It looks like it’s straight out of the Caribbean! The Grotto is a unique natural wonder and memorable place to experience. An underwater tunnel extends from the pool inside the cave through the cliff to Georgian Bay. This often makes it appear as though the pool is glowing on sunny days.

I do not believe there are other grottos located in Canada. If there are some that anyone else knows of – please let me know.

man on Rock Face at the Grotto
Rock Face at the Grotto

 

Where Is the Grotto?

The Grotto is specifically located close to the Cyprus Lake Campground in Bruce Peninsula National Park. The national park is on the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula, just outside of Tobermory, Ontario. It is about 300 kilometres or a 4-hour drive northwest of Toronto. It’s on the Bruce Trail.

How to get to the Grotto
map courtesy of Parks Canada

 

 

How Do I Make Sure I Can Get Into The Grotto?

During the peak season of July and August, there are a couple of ways to make sure you are in Bruce Peninsula National Park and can access the Grotto:

1.) Be there already as a camper at one of the backcountry sites along Georgian Bay or in Cyprus Lake Campground, then hike over there.

2.) Reserve parking in advance if coming from outside the park. The fee to park is $11.70 per vehicle plus an applicable reservation fee ($6.00 online, $8.50 by phone) and an individual fee. Parking is assigned by time blocks and only a certain amount of cars are permitted per time slot. Parking does book up well in advance on weekends. You might have more luck during the week if you can try to go then.

3.) Head up there in the off or shoulder seasons of April/May/June or September/October when the demand to visit is much less.

What You Need To Know About Going to The Grotto at Tobermory - my selfie in the grotto
“What You Need To Know About Going to The Grotto at Tobermory” Me at the Grotto

 

How Do I Get To The Grotto?

To get to the Grotto, you will have to hike the Georgian Bay Trail from P1 of Cyprus Lake Campground. It takes roughly 45 minutes with younger kids. It can be done in 30 minutes if walking at a good pace. The trailhead to the shoreline at Indian Head Cove is rated as easy. It’s a man-made trail that is wide and scenic. Once you get to the shoreline, it’s a rocky hike. It is not wheelchair or other mobility device accessible. Watch your footing and keep children supervised. The portion of the Bruce Trail leading to the Grotto does require some climbing over slippery rocks and tree roots.

Once you reach Indian Head Cove, the Grotto entrance hole is approximately 100 metres away to the west, so don’t be confused when you arrive. Indian Head Cove is a great place to swim. As you carry on to the west, you will come across the Natural Arch, you can see the water through the hole, you’re still not there yet. Keep going.

Indian Head Cove, east of the Grotto
Indian Head Cove

There is a hole that you have to slide down to get into the actual Grotto and it’s not marked, no signposts. Watch for others going in and out. Once you corkscrew down through the hole, you have to climb down a small escarpment.

I had to remove my backpack and have it passed down to me as I did not fit with it on my back.

Side note – the climb in and out is not something you can do if you are excessively overweight. You won’t fit through the hole. You will have to attempt a climb down and back up the rock face or swim around from Indian Head Cove.

The climb can be done wearing running shoes or barefoot if you are comfortable. I do not recommend attempting this with flip flops or water shoes that do not have good grips.

If you are not physically fit, you might need to rely on assistance from others to get back up and out.

 

Is The Grotto Safe For Kids?

The hike from Indian Head Cove to the Grotto can be challenging for children, elderly and those with mobility issues. Kids have to recognize that there are dangers to running off on their own here and parents need to understand that there is a risk of injury or serious consequences if children are not kept under control. There is no barrier on the hike and there is no life guard to supervise in the water. 

As mentioned, you have to slide down a hole and climb down an escarpment to get into the Grotto. My children, ages 9 and 4 did it with assistance from myself and their father. We are both fairly fit (gym rats) and assisted the children with no problem. This is not something the kids could have done on their own.

We did have to assist other kids with families coming into the Grotto through the hole and climbing back out.

The water will be cold for them and the rocks are slippery. Please keep your children close to you at all times. The water is shallow enough close to the cave that they can walk around and the water won’t be past most older kid’s shoulder height.

Girl at the grotto
My daughter at the grotto

 

How Cold Is The Water At The Grotto?

We visited the second week of August and I found it cold, but tolerable. I’m also a hearty Canadian who can swim in lakes and bays, so take my opinion on this with a grain of salt. My kids froze, their dad froze, they enjoy pools heated to over 80 degrees. If I could have carried more items in my backpack, I would have brought a wetsuit for the kids as well as floatation devices.

feet over ledge at grotto
My feet looking at the grotto

 

Where Else Is There To Stay In The Area?

If you are not camping in Bruce Peninsula National Park, there are many BnB’s, AirBnb’s and motels in the Tobermory Area. We’ve stayed at Cedar Vista Motel and also at the Blue Bay Motel. We recommend Blue Bay Motel. Accommodations in Tobermory fill up fast in the summer time. Be sure to plan and book your trip in advance or try going in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.

BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATIONS IN TOBERMORY HERE:



Booking.com

 

I made a little video with my GoPro camera that we took down there… Check it out!

 

 

I hope this helps you with What You Need To Know About Going to The Grotto at Tobermory. Did I miss anything you need or want to know? Ask below! I’ll get back to you.

 

What You Need To Know About Going To The Grotto outside of Tobermory in Bruce Peninsula National Park #grotto #tobermory #brucepeninsula #discoverontario #parkscanada #grotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #tobermorygrotto #hikingthebruce #brucetrail #dangerousplaces #rockyterrain #bestfamilytraveltravelblogger #ontariofamilyadventures

*** This post contains affiliate links that supplement my income if you chose to make a no-obligation booking or purchase ***

Three Wineries In Norfolk County You Need To Get To With Ride The Bine

Living in Ontario has so many perks! Aside from a decent climate in terms of being in Canada and access to world-class cities such as Toronto, Montreal and New York, USA within a handful of hours, the food and drink scene here is exploding. Over the past decade, the craft beer and wine industry have seen a huge boom and changed our consumption for the better. The three bigger areas in the province for wine are Prince Edward County, Niagara Region and Norfolk County. I’m taking you on a tour to show you three wineries in Norfolk County you need to know about.

NOTE – this tour was done pre-COVID. For updated safety on the tour and what the wineries and breweries are doing to keep patrons safe, read about my most recent experience on Ride The Bine by clicking here.

Three Wineries In Norfolk County You Need To Know

When it comes to Ontario Wines, I’m really picky. Let me just say up front that there have been some that have not sat right in my stomach. Or have not gone past my palette in a favourable way. Clearly, I will not focus my attention in that direction or recommend anything to you that I don’t like. In the true spirit of being authentic, if I won’t buy it for myself to consume, I won’t tell you about it.

While Norfolk County does have a lot of wineries that are flourishing, I’m going to focus on my favourites at the moment. These three wineries in Norfolk County are Dover 13 (Smoke and Gamble and Friskey Beacher Wines), Burning Kiln and Blueberry Hill Estates. I visited Burning Kiln in the past and I’m glad I was able to make a return trip!

Read more: Family Friendly Fun in Norfolk County, Ontario

While there are some LCBO locations in Ontario that you can walk in and purchase wine from these businesses, local restaurants are their strongest partners. Also, tourism is the biggest driver for awareness and sales. Meaning, online orders that deliver as well as drive-up business is what keeps them alive.

These wineries are also found on the Toast The Coast Trail, which are outstanding wineries from the town of Simcoe in the east to the town of St. Thomas in the west

Vineyard at burning kiln winery

Where Is Norfolk County?

Norfolk County is in Southern Ontario. To reach the area, it’s just over two-hours driving from downtown Toronto. It’s become a very accessible place for local tourists from the areas of London, Kitchener/Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton and the rest of the Greater Toronto Area. The great cycling food and wine has brought patrons from Quebec as well.

Tourism data shows local beverages are the big driver for visitors. Norfolk County has a strong beach and boating culture, being situated on Lake Erie. Many people have owned cottages in Turkey Point and Port Dover going on 3-5 generations back! This is an area that is also popular for sport fishing and kite surfing. Cycling has seen increasing popularity over the years as has hiking.

Eat, Shop and Stay in Norfolk sign

RIDE THE BINE

The only way that I recommend visiting multiple wineries or breweries in one day in Norfolk County is by talking Ride The Bine. Ride The Bine was founded in 2017 by Amanda and Susan – both country girls from Norfolk County and are now raising their own families there. They have a huge, invested interest in seeing the area succeed. Amanda treated me to our afternoon tour and she is a blast. I can get along with pretty much everybody, but she’s genuinely enthusiastic, incredibly knowledgeable, humourous and full of personality.

Ride The Bine is a beer, wine and cider tour company. They have a couple of big vehicles, like a mega-comfortable Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and they drive you from tasting to tasting, providing exceptional commentary and company along the way. They can take you and your closest friends, colleagues, bachelor and bachelorette parties, divorce parties, custom tours, you name it. If you’re looking to sample some of the beer, wine or cider from Norfolk County, Ride The Bine is the safe and easy way to go. Way more fun than calling your Mom to come to pick you up because you drank too much.

Understandably, taking a tour in post-COVID times is causing trepidation. Have no fear, I’ve been told that measures to keep everyone safe are coming into place. To inquire and/or book your own Ride The Bine experience, check out their website here: https://www.ridethebine.com/

Tell them I sent you!

Ride The Bine wine, beer and cider tours in Norfolk County - Tour host Amanda and her Mercedes Benz Sprinter Van

The Wines and Vines

In Norfolk County, agriculture is a strong industry. Known as the Garden of Ontario, the previous king crop of tobacco has given way to ginseng and the soil is excellent. Interesting factoid for you, I’ve been told that the largest medical marijuana grow op in Ontario is here. Now that cannabis is legal, there is huge opportunity here for big a financial boom.
Commercial farmers have been driving innovation through big organic operations and a whole lot of trial and error. Standard crops here are berries! Blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, goji berries, oh and hazelnuts! You will see how berries factor into the wine industry here…

DOVER 13 WINERY

The first winery I want to introduce you to is Dover 13 and they can be found at 455 Radical Road, just west of Port Dover. Dover 13 isn’t the name of the winery, it’s an umbrella over a couple of different wine companies – Frisky Beaver, Smoke and Gamble and Crappy Wine. Is the wine crappy? Crappy Wine isn’t terrible, it’s a bunch of leftovers they didn’t know what to do with and mixed it all together. It’s dirt cheap and good for a Tuesday.

What I bought on my visit there with Ride The Bine in January and oven ordered for delivery to my house in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic. I placed an order for Frisky Beaver Badass Baco Red, the white wine as well as the blush and Smoke and Gamble Cabernet.

Smoke and Gamble Cabernet wine bottle at Dover 13, winery in Norfolk County. Get to know the wineries for Norfolk County.

Now I’m a red wine drinker in the winter and blush and white wine drinker in the summer. Smoke and Gamble Cabernet is medium-bodied and would be really good with red meat if you eat it. If not, it’s a good hanging out and date night wine. Flavours of black currant and cherries with subtle oak.  The blush is an amazing warm weather BBQ hang out wine.

Frisky Beaver Blushing Beaver wine bottle at Dover 13, winery in Norfolk County

BURNING KILN WINERY

Stop number two on our adventure was Burning Kiln, a previous favourite of mine. It’s hard to knock this one off my favourites list.

My first introduction here was when I was staying right across the road at Long Point Eco-Adventures and it’s a fantastic place to stay. Not just because it’s across from a winery, but because it’s a magnificent experience. While I did take my kids to Long Point Eco-Adventures, it’s an excellent place for an adult getaway. Check it out: Ultimate Luxury Family Glamping at Long Point Eco Adventures

kathrynanywhere at Burning Kiln enjoying Inferno red wine

Norfolk County was once renown for tobacco farms in Canada and a lot of those old farms are now home to the wine industry. Burning Kiln is in one of them and it’s gorgeous. The original barn still stands, the tobacco kilns are repurposed. 

And the wine? Well, it’s amongst the best Ontario has to offer. Their reds? Well, the cab francs are great. Whites and sparkling wine? Wow. I’ll head back to Burning Kiln with Ride The Bine again.

Burning Kiln Sparks bottle with glasses at Burning Kiln winery in Norfolk County

 

FRONT ROAD CELLARS AT BLUEBERRY HILL ESTATES

I’m going to let you guess what the wines that started this winery were made from.

We are in Ontario’s Garden…

And this is where berries grow.

If you’re looking for an introduction to fruit wine and a new taste, go no further than Front Road Cellars at Blueberry Hill Estates. Fruit wine isn’t their only specialty. Ciders rule here too. Blackberry and blueberry ciders amongst the most popular.

One of the most picturesque estates in Norfolk County, this is a popular place for weddings and a pick your own fruit section. Once the restrictions all lift, hopefully, it can operate as it did before. This is a not to be missed place.

Blueberry Hills Estate Winery logo in a wine glass

 

CONSIDER MAKING A WEEKEND OUT OF IT

If you’re in the Norfolk County area to take a tour with Ride The Bine, check out some of the local accommodations. The Port Rowan Inn, Long Point Eco-Adventures – both I highly recommend. If they are booked up, you can check out Days Inn, Best Western and Quality Inn as they are all great options. Alternatively, there are cottages to rent and some Airbnb inventory. If you’re more of a camper, there are provincial parks in the area.

Where ever you stay, there are lots of things to see and do in Norfolk County all time of the year.

 

Adventures to these wineries in Norfolk County were hosted by Amanda from Ride The Bine.

While we had a great time together, she in no way strong-armed me into a good review!

Ride The Bine Beer and Wine and Cider Tours in Norfolk County. Visit wineries in Norfolk County you need to know about!

Best Hiking Trails For Families in Southern Ontario

Ontario is a mecca for outdoor activities. I have always been an avid hiker, camper and nature lover, making me well-positioned living in Southern Ontario. And as my children have gotten older, we’ve been out more and more and more. And I am constantly searching out the best hiking trails for families in Southern Ontario.

Travel is not recommended right now, but it does not mean that you have to stay inside. In a time of social distancing, we are being told to avoid contact with others. It’s safe to still enjoy nature and remain a safe distance from others. We can be outside and safe. We can stay a couple of metres away from other people, we can wash our hands frequently. It’s become prudent to carry hand sanitizer and we do. Lucky for us, there are a few less frequented hiking areas you can go to and I’ll tell you about them.

Best Hiking Trails For Families In Southern Ontario

Here are the best hiking trails for families in Ontario to practise social distancing. The list is completely unofficial and purely based on my personal experience over the years and that of fellow bloggers.

Skinner’s Bluff Loop Lookout on the Bruce Peninsula Trail

This section of the trail is on the Bruce Trail and it’s hard to find. Kind of for good reason because it’s a secret. Safe to say, it’s extremely safe for social distancing! To find the trailhead, you need to get yourself on a dirt road called Colpoy’s Range Road outside of Wiarton, Ontario. Look for the Bruce Trail markers. It’s well worth the hunt to see the amazing views of Georgian Bay.

Fairly safe and easy for kids on the trail sections. You’ll want to exercise an abundance of caution at the lookout points though. They are not protected by barriers. The view would be ruined if there were barriers, so please hold your children’s hands and keep pets on a leash. It can be quite buggy in the summer, you’ll want to pack bug repellent. Bring snacks and your camera.

My and my kids on Skinner's Bluff look out #brucetrail #skinnersbluff #wiartonontario #epichikes #hikewithkids #takeyourkidseverywhere

Barron Canyon Trail in Algonquin Park

The Barron Canyon Trail in Algonquin Provincial Park can be accessed most easily from the Sand Lake Gates. That’s the eastern section, closest to Petawawa, Ontario. Normal provincial park fees apply.

The canyon trail is only 1.5 kilometres and is a loop. The loop takes you up to the amazing north rim of the Barron Canyon. And the view is outstanding. This is what you’re here for. Like Skinner’s Bluff, you have to exercise caution and common sense, don’t play around on the edges.

It’s an uphill hike for about 200-300 metres, but not difficult at all. Once you reach the canyon, it’s fairly level, few ups and downs. This trail is moderately trafficked in the summer under normal conditions. My four-year-old son basically ran up this hill, so it’s manageable for all family members. You can read all about it in more detail here: Epic Hikes With Kids – Barron Canyon Trail

Hiking in Algonquin Provincial Park, one of the best trails for families in Ontario

Hilton Falls Trail in Hilton Falls Conservation Area

A 10-metre spectacular waterfall view is a reward for this easy hike. To get to the falls from the parking lot, it’s a two-kilometre walk. Same distance going back, with kids, budget about two hours for this. It’s a great place to go on a hot day to cool off, to feel the mist from the water and get amazing Instagram shots. Seriously.

Last time I was there with my kids, other families were walking behind the waterfall and kids were frolicking in the water at the base.  This trail has been REALLY busy on nice days, so plan to go on a less sunny day for fewer crowds.

BUT – There is more to Hilton Falls than the actual waterfalls. Take a detour out onto the trails and see the best-kept secret out there – the reservoir.

This conservation area is closest to Milton, Ontario. Normally, there are entrance fees there for parking. Also, ice cream is sold at the visitor centre.

Hilton Falls at Hilton Falls Conservation Area in Halton, easy family hike

Mount Nemo Loop Trail in Mount Nemo Conservation Area

If you want to avoid crowds and have a nice hike in the Greater Toronto Area, this is the place to go. Mount Nemo is gorgeous, has caves and you can spot vultures circling in the air. Here, you can go rock climbing or find a lookout where the CN Tower can be spotted on a clear day. There’s a loop you can hike that’s approximately 5.3 kilometres and will likely take you 3 hours to do with kids.

Just north of Burlington, there are entrance fees, same as Hilton Falls. PRO TIP – visit Hilton Falls and Mount Nemo in the same day. Pay for parking in one location in the morning and your daily entrance fee receipt provides access to all Halton Parks for the same day. Same goes for Rattlesnake Point (below, under non-social distancing protocols).

Buffalo Crag Lookout – Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area

Just a six-kilometre bike ride or quick car ride from the Hilton Falls Conservation Area parking lot is Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area. An easy 3.2-kilometre trail to the Buffalo Crag lookout for one of the best views of the escarpment. If you are a fan of the Canadian TV show, Schitt’s Creek on CBC, this is the conservation area and trail where Patrick proposed to David on the episode called “The Hike”.

The views here are amazing. There are two ways to do the loop, you can side the side trail along the escarpment or you wan take the maintained walking path.

In full disclosure, these trails have just been given the green light to re-open and are only permitting people in for two-hour windows. You have to reserve online ahead of time. It’s a bit difficult to run your kids through here within two hours, to be honest, but if you move at a brisk pace, it’s doable. While we are under social distancing protocols, you cannot visit two conservation areas in one day. Hopefully, that lifts for 2021.

At the RattleSnake Point look out in Halton Conservation Area

Bennett Heritage Trail – Silvercreek Conservation Area

For all-season hiking, Silvercreek Conservation area boasts some of the best hiking for families in Ontario. Only an hour from Toronto, and part of the Bruce Trail, this is where you can get away from it all, including in the dead of winter.

When this trail is muddy, it can be very slippery. If you are here in the winter, be sure to bring your cleats (snow picks) for your hiking boots as it can be icy. This trail can be challenging, so if you’re looking for adventure, this is it. You’ll find some diverse terrain here and it will be a memorable day for the kids.

If you finish hiking around this conservation area, you can continue on an eight-kilometre trail to Terra Cotta Conservation Area. With the Bruce Trail, the possibilities are truly endless!

I ventured out to Silvercreek Conservation area on the Bruce Trail yesterday with members of Women Who Explore Ontario. #silvercreekconservationarea #brucetrail #womenwhoexplore #womenwhoexploreontario #discoveron #ontarioforyou  #girloutdoor #girlsthatwander #hikingculture #gogalavanting #girlswhohike

Cliff Top Side Trail via Carriage Trail and Spillway Trail – Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

If you have a day to spend hiking, Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is the park to take the kids too. It’s a day-use park, so there is no camping here. However, there are a lot of areas here to toss out a blanket and hang out for a while. While I am recommending one trail and path, there are many here that wind around and intersect.

Getting to the Cliff Top Side Trail at Mono Cliffs takes a bit of time. It’s approximately an 8-kilometre trail from the parking lot and back. With kids, it could take you four to five hours, but it’s worth it. Some trails in this park are classified as moderate hikes, some are easy. Some trails are surrounded by forest while others are more of an open field setting. They range from well-worn, sandy paths to rocky trails to wooden boardwalks. That said, my kids basically ran through here like they were in their playroom.

If you’d like to know more details about this park and the trails there, I did an entire post on it here: Mono Cliffs Provincial Park – Best Place For Mother’s Day Hike

boardwalk at mono cliffs provincial park - best hiking trails for families in Ontario

Cataract Falls via Trans Canada Trail and Kettle Trail Loop – Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

The 6.6-kilometre hike to Cataract Falls and back to the parking lot looks like it’s going to be really easy, but has a lot of ups and downs. That said, you will find places along the way to take a moment to sit by the pond on a bench. I would also recommend that you could have a picnic once it is safe to do so (when restrictions are lifted) as it will be one of the best soul-refreshing moments of your day.

This trail is a great place for active kids to let them run and wear them out. Classified as a moderate trail in this provincial park which is only for day use. No camping is permitted here. Honestly though, you will forget you are anywhere near a city when you’re in Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. Only an hour from downtown Toronto in Caledon, you will need to obtain a valid Ontario Parks day permit at the parking lot.

kids at Forks of The Credit Provincial Park best hiking trails for families in Southern Ontario

Oak Ridges Trail at Seneca College

As beginner family hikers, and kids ages 3 – 11 years old, we chose the Oak Ridges Trail at Seneca College in King, ON for one of our first Winter treks. It’s a mostly flat provincial recreational trail running the full length of the protected Oak Ridges moraine. It was a level “easy” according to AllTrails (which is an app) and even with a bit of elevation very manageable for kids and all skill levels.
We entered from the Dufferin side and bypassed $2.50 parking at Seneca’s King Campus by parking along the road by the trail entrance (which is legal & many do). Lots of little streams and small bridges and a neat little stone-built fire hut the kids had fun chasing each other around.
Stumbling upon Eaton Hall overlooking Seneca Lake (former residence of Lady Eaton, gathering place for many Eaton Family celebrations & backdrop for several movies) made for a great history lesson and photo opp around the 1.5 km mark. Dogs are allowed on the trail but must be on a leash. The 9km trail is well marked, and since we only conquered under 3 km of it our first go, we’ll be back this summer to explore some more!
Said to be best hiked April – October, we really enjoyed a less busy experience in January.   With lots of little wetlands throughout, bring your bug spray if visiting in the warmer months.
Oak Ridges Trail; House of Kerrs

Spirit Rock Conservation Area

If you’re looking for a great place to go hiking with your family in Ontario then consider Spirit Rock Conservation Area. Spirit Rock is located just north of Wiarton, approximately two and a half hours north of Toronto. Spirit Rock Conservation Area is one of the best places to hike on the Bruce Peninsula. It offers picturesque hiking trails, incredible views of Georgian Bay and some amazing historic ruins. So clearly, this is one of the best places to hike with kids in Southern Ontario.

Spirit Rock is set over 87 hectares and is home to the ruins of the Corran. The Corran was once a lavish estate in the late 19th century. Now all that is left are a scattering of stone ruins that have been taken over by nature. There is also an old spiral staircase that you can carefully descend down to the water’s edge below. The main trail through the conservation area is the Bruce Trail. You can enjoy the loop trail that is approximately 2 kilometres and takes from an hour to an hour and a half. The trail takes you through the forest, past a few great lookouts and over the rocky and rugged Niagara Escarpment. And it’s a perfect place for a family hike with shaded trails that are manageable for children and kids will love exploring and climbing over the ruins.

Spirit Rock Conservation Area trail - the world as i see it travel blog

Old Ausable River Channel, Pinery Provincial Park

Located on the shores Lake Huron, just outside of Grand Bend, Pinery Provincial Park is a hidden gem in the Ontario Parks’ system. The 21 square kilometres of rare forests and rolling dunes offer excellent year-round outdoor recreation, including 10 walking trails, a 14 km bike trail, 38 kms of groomed ski trails and the Old Ausable River Channel (OARC), which runs the length of the park.

While we love to take a traditional hike during our summer family camping trips to the Pinery, we also like to “hike outside of the trail” and canoe or kayak the OARC.

Originally named “La Riviere aux Sables” by early French voyageurs, this river has a rich cultural history and, since its creation, has always been full of life. It provides habitat for more than 35 species of freshwater fish, several endangered freshwater mussel species and many reptiles and amphibians, including the threatened Eastern spiny softshell turtle. The surface of the river is covered in pond and water lilies, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot one of the resident beavers or river otters going about their day. Don’t forget to look for white-tailed deer along the banks, and bring your binoculars to view the many species of birds that call the park home.

Old Ausable River Channel - To & Fro

Marla Ward: www.toandfroblog.com 

Niagara Glen

Niagara Glen is a great activity for families visiting the Niagara Falls area because it gets you away from the almost carnival atmosphere of the falls and into pristine Carolinian Forest. It’s also one of the rare free-activities in Niagara Falls.

Located right next to the Niagara River near the whirlpool, Niagara Glen is only a 10-minute drive from the falls. Before starting your hike, there is a grassy picnic area and bathrooms above the gorge.

The 4km of trails are in a gorge so you have to descend down a spiral metal staircase. The terrain of the glen can be hilly or include staircases in some areas so it isn’t suitable for strollers. There are multiple looping trails here among the boulders to explore. My favourite is the River Trail as it gives you views of the turquoise water and the American side of the gorge as well.

Niagara Glen is a bouldering destination so you may spot some rock climbers on your hike. These huge boulders that dot the park are leftovers from when the river eroded the area thousands of years ago. Kids may enjoy exploring around the boulders as some of them have small caves and may even include ice of you are there in late spring.

It’s a great destination for families as you can spend as little as 30 minutes doing a short hike or as much as an afternoon exploring the whole glen.

Brianna – Website: https://curioustravelbug.com/

 

The Durham Regional Forest Trail

The Durham Regional Forest Trail is 35 km from Oshawa. Take the Lake Ridge Rd exit on the 401 W onto Goodwood. On Concession Road 7 you make a left to your destination. The trail is close to Uxbridge.

The reason I like it because it is a 12km loop, with moderate difficulty, an elevation gain of 400 meters and takes about 3 hrs to complete. Novices are going to love the fact that it is clean, neat, consistent and marked all along. It is accessible all year. If you take your dog with you it has to be kept on a leash. The trail has very few ruts, roots or rocks. If you want a nice, moderate work out this is the trail for you.

On the weekend it is an amazing escape with the scenery being luscious and robust. The plantation forests were set up more than 70 years ago and are constantly maintained. Even on a hot humid day you can be sure of lots of shade.

The forest is about 405 hectares and is famous for hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, bird watching and mountain biking.

The parking is free, it is never crowded, quiet, peaceful and an easy trail to follow.

Jerry Godinho from https://fourcolumnsofabalancedlife.com/

 

Swan Lake Trail

We’ve always been an active family, but typically that’s skiing and zip lining and swimming, or learning a new sport. We’ve never done a lot of hiking together, but that changed when we were invited to do an RV trip with Ontario Parks last fall. We started with Grundy Lake Provincial Park and in the morning went for a quick walk before heading straight over to The Swan Lake Trail.

Swan Lake Trail is a moderate hiking trail that’s about 1.5 kms long and will take roughly an hour. It runs through the Swan Lake nature reserve and is ideal for families just starting to hike or families with young kids. The Swan Lake views through a boggy marsh and up over stunning rock formations will leave you wanting more. My kids loved that there’s an interactive research portion too. So, if you spy wildlife in a particular spot you can text a number and help researchers to document it. Gnarly trees and walkways through swampy bogs appealed to my young teens. This was the start of a new passion for our family and is definitely a place to find the best hiking for families in Ontario.

Swan Lake Trail, Grundy Lake Provincial Park

 

I hope this list inspires you and your family to get out and enjoy some of the many beautiful hiking trails this province has to offer. This post is meant to be a work in progress as we explore more. Have no fear, I’m always on the lookout for the best hiking for families in Ontario. The more trails I find, the more I will report back!

The best hiking for families in Southern Ontario, from Algonquin Provincial Park to Halton Conservation Areas to the Bruce Peninsula, know where to find the best hiking trails in Southern Ontario for families