The Bruce Trail is a marked, pedestrian footpath in Ontario. The Bruce Trail runs 904 km along the Niagara Escarpment, which is like walking from Milan to Paris, and then doing an extra lap around the Boulevard Périphérique for good measure.
The trail spans the distance between Tobermory and Queenston near Niagara Falls. There are over 400 km of associated side trails. The trail is open to walkers and hikers primarily and some other uses on a more restricted basis, e.g., horseback riders and bicyclists.
It takes advantage of the features and terrain of the Niagara Escarpment, designated by the United Nations as a World Biosphere Reserve, a prominent uprising of the sedimentary rock in the lower Great Lakes.
The land the trail traverses is owned by the Government of Ontario, local municipalities, local conservation authorities, private landowners, and the Bruce Trail Conservancy. The Bruce Trail is the oldest and longest marked hiking trail in Canada. The trail is named after Bruce County, which was named after James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin who was Governor General of the Province of Canada from 1847 to 1854.
There are many waterfalls along the Bruce Trail, where streams or rivers flow over the Niagara Escarpment. Niagara Falls, by far the most famous water feature in the area, can be reached by a side trail of the Bruce Trail proper. There is also a wide range of plant and wildlife along the trail, including slow-growing centuries-old coniferous trees right on the limestone lip of the escarpment. The Cheltenham Badlands is a natural feature exposed by human activity, namely farming.
The Bruce Trail and the escarpment run through some of the most populated areas of Ontario, with an estimated 7 million people living within 100 km (62 mi).
- Bruce Trail Conservancy, ☏ . A trail association and a land trust dedicated to establishing a conservation corridor along the Bruce Trail.
It passes through parks operated by various levels of government, including Woodend Conservation Area in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Battlefield Park in Stoney Creek, Dundas Valley Conservation Area in Dundas, the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail, Mount Nemo Conservation Area, Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area, Crawford Lake Conservation Area, Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, and the Bruce Peninsula National Park, which is located between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron near the northern tip of Bruce Peninsula. Its northern terminus is in Tobermory, the jumping-off point for Fathom Five National Marine Park.
Approximately half of the trail runs through public land. In order to make a complete connection the trail runs partly on private property and partly on road allowances. When going through private property, the conservancy has made agreements with landowners to allow trail users to pass through.
The main trail is marked with the Bruce Trail Conservancy logo, a white lozenge with black text and drawings for the Bruce Trail and an upward pointing arrow, which does not act as a part of a navigational marker. The blazes for the main trail are white markings, approximately 3 cm (1 in) wide by 8 cm (3 in) high, with turns indicated by stacking two blazes off centre to indicate the direction to take. The blazes for the 300 km (190 mi) of associated side trails are similar, except they are blue.
The record for completing the Bruce Trail solo is 8 days, 22 hours, 15 minutes, set in 2021.
The main trail is 904 km long, and its side trails add another 462 km, so there are many access points through a huge region.
The trail begins in the Niagara Peninsula in Queenston, on the Niagara River, not far from Niagara Falls. The cairn marking its southern terminus is in a parking lot, about 160 metres (520 ft) from General Brock's Monument on the easterly side of the monument's park grounds. From there, it travels through St. Catharines where it passes through wine country near the Short Hills Bench. It continues due north through the major towns or cities of Hamilton, Burlington, Milton, Halton Hills, Walters Falls, Owen Sound, Wiarton, and finally Tobermory.
Hiking along the Bruce Trail is, generally, not dangerous or difficult. Some sections in the north are wild, rocky and remote, but most of the trail is suitable for moderately active, healthy people.
Animal hazards include coyotes, Black bears, rattlesnakes, Ticks and Lyme Disease, bees, mosquitoes, other stinging insects.
Plant hazards include poison ivy, which can give you a very nasty allergic reaction and rash, giant hogweed, which can result in severe and painful burning and blistering, and wild parsnip, which causes similar but less severevrwactions than hogweed.
During hunting season, the dates of which vary by region, wear bright orange or another bright colour.