Lion’s Head: Photo Proof that you MUST Visit this Provincial Park
Move over Tobermory, Lion’s Head is my new favourite place in the Bruce Peninsula!
I feel like the last few years, bloggers have been going crazy for Tobermory. It seems to be the “it” destination in Canada lately. I can see why – gorgeous aqua waters that look like you’re in the Carribean, cool rock formations that are only accessible by boat and tons of hauntingly beautiful shipwrecks.
But, what nobody seems to talk about is the nearby town and Provincial Park of the same name – Lion’s Head.
After hearing all this hype (and seeing stunning photos) my friends and I decided that this year we were going to go up to Bruce Peninsula. So, we packed our bags, rented a car and drove up Friday night for 3 days from July 21st – 24th. We actually stayed in Lion’s Head as well at this cute A-Frame cabin.
We knew the popular tourist spots that we wanted to see, but beyond that, I wasn’t able to find a ton of other information about other things to see in the area. The one exception was Greig’s Caves, but I’ll get to that later.
So we went with pretty low expectations of everything but Tobermory. Saving the Grotto and Indian Head Cove for our second day, we took the first day to explore Lion’s Head.
After a less than stellar impression of the small town, and a lack of cash to get into Greig’s Caves (wtf Greig?!), we decided to take a chance hiking in Lion’s Head Provincial Park.
To say that we were blown away would be an understatement.
Lion’s Head Provincial Park was absolutely stunning!
We enjoyed it so much, that we went back for a second day of hiking. The hiking trails in this park are quite extensive and have three different entrances to the trails. Here’s a shot of the map for reference.
Day 1: Cemetery Road Entrance
How to hike it: Park at the Cemetery Road Lot and start out on the Cemetery Road Side Trail. Once you reach a fork in the road, head North on the Main Trail (Bruce Trail) towards the Inland Side Trail. This trail takes you to the peak of the cliff, offering stunning views of Barrow Bay below. It’s quite a long trail, so we only made it about as far as the second look out point before turning back.
This portion of the trail is fairly easy and unremarkable, but trust me, it gets better! Once you get past the grassy portion, you enter the forest.
Here’s where it gets gorgeous.
In the forest, the hiking starts to get more challenging. While hiking this trail, you’re constantly climbing over small, large and huge portions of rock that cover the trail. We found ourselves on all fours climbing up rock steps, ducking under fallen branches, and coming out at a lookout point to find crystal clear waters and jutting white cliffs hundreds of feet below us.
The “oohs” and “aahs” came out of our mouths in an endless succession as we saw one beautiful thing after another. To top it all off, it was lightly raining on the first day, so the forest looked incredibly lush and bright!
It was quite challenging with the constant ups and downs of the trail, but you use so many different muscles all at once that you don’t tire super quickly. It’s not just a simple little dirt path, but that’s what made it so fun, exciting, and almost effortless!
Day 2: Moore Street Entrance
How to hike it: Park in the McCurdy Drive Parkette. Walk back out along Moore Street until you get to the Moore Street Side Trail. Take that trail until you join up with the Main Trail. We took the main trail all the way to McKay’s Harbour and then started back on McKay’s Harbour Side Trail. This trail links up with the Inland Side Trail and then takes you back the way you came on the Main Trail. There are a couple of cool small side Trails to do on this route as well. Make sure to check out the Lion’s Head Pot Hole Side Trail and the Giant’s Cauldron Side Trail.
High off the gorgeous sights of our first day hiking in Lion’s Head Provincial Park, we went back for a second day to hike a different trail.
Just as gorgeous, just as challenging, and just as fun, this side of the trail in Lion’s Head Provincial Park made me fall further in love.
It was sunny at the beginning of our hike, so the water shone even brighter than the day before in the clearest, most perfect shade of aqua. There is a large lookout that’s not to be missed! I believe it’s Lion’s Head Point that offers the most stunning view of Isthmus Bay. The lookout is so large that several people can stop at once. It’s a great place to have a lunch break and take in the sights!
This portion of the hike actually takes you down to the water’s edge in McKay Harbour. There are spots to set up camp here if you wanted to spend the night. This year the water level is really high, so some of the trail markers are under water. So, we had to guess at where we were supposed to go. Our shoes got soaked, but it was an adventure 🙂 Unfortunately, It got a bit colder and rainier by the time we reached the harbour. If it was still hot and sunny, this would have been a great place for a swim!
On the way back, we went inland away from the coast. The forest here is a little more sparse with less moss and more low evergreen type bushes.
One of my favourite parts of these trails was that I didn’t really see any garbage. It was also a plus that they weren’t too busy. I think we only saw 3 people when we hiked the trail on day 1.
This super cool system of caves is a must see for anyone who is staying in the Lion’s Head area. The hike is only about an hour, but there are a ton of cool caves to explore along the way. The area is similar to Lion’s Head Provincial Park in that the hike is a trail that has you climbing up steep hills around moss covered rocks a lot of the time. A shorter, but still beautiful trail.
You do have to pay to get into Greig’s Caves, and they only accept cash. It’s $10 per person, so make sure you grab some cash from town before heading over, as there is no ATM. On the road into Greig’s Caves we saw some “forest range cows”. That’s what we decided to call them anyway. It was such a strange sight seeing cows in a forest and not in a field!
It was also really neat how the little nooks and crannies at the back of the cave were kind of smokey. I’m not sure what causes this, but I’ve never noticed that when I’ve been in a cave before. I couldn’t believe how massive some of the caves were! You could go pretty far into the depths and then look back out at this gigantic cavern of rock. There were even pillars of rock at some points in the caves.
So are you convinced that Lion’s Head is an amazing spot to check out?
I highly recommend you do as I definitely plan on going back!
– xo, tess.