Posted in: Outdoors

Bruce Trail: Niagara | South Terminus to Woodend Conservation Area

If you caught it last week, you know I’ve set out on a mission this year to complete the Bruce Trail. All 900 kilometers.

If you didn’t catch it, well.. now you know.

Ideally I’d like to do them all in order but my hiking partner has other plans. So I’ve broken the trail down in to bite-size day trips. This way we can pick and choose as we go and not have to worry about missing anything, or overlapping our efforts.

We did at least start at one end. We chose the South terminus in Niagara as it is significantly closer than Tobermory. Plus it’s wintertime; the trails in Niagara are not on the water. We want it to be warm enough to jump in after a hike, so North end of the trail waits for summer.

Bruce Trail South Terminus

The trail starts on the boulevard and cuts directly across a parking lot. Not terrible when it’s freezing out and no one is around (and the parking lot is closed) but I imagine it could get a little hazardous in warmer weather, so naturally, be careful.

The parking lot is part of Queenston Heights Park, which hosts a bunch of historical tributes. If you’ve got some time, I recommend taking a look around and reading the monuments.

The trail cuts through the park along a treeline, eventually meeting up with the paved park path, only to veer off in to the woods a short time later.

This area is popular for dog walking. We saw many pups on leash and off leash. I was not happy that I couldn’t pet any of them and had to keep our distance.

Remnants of history along the Bruce Trail

Along the trail there are some other relics from times past. Anyone know what this is? Hint: it’s found in Queenston Quarry.

About 4km in, and down a steep switchback or two, you’ll come to a sidetrail that is part of the Laura Secord Trail.

Bruce Trail meets Laura Secord

It’s not a chocolate trail. Sorry to disappoint you.

In 1813, Laura Secord walked 32km out of American-occupied territory to warn British forces of an impending attack. (We weren’t “Canada” at this point yet).

This trail follows her rough path out of Queenston Heights.

Eventually we split from Laura’s footprints and continue along our Bruce Trail. We pass through a few smaller park areas, some with lovely ponds like Firemen’s Park.

Firemen's Park pond

It was a cold day today but a clear day. And the cold at least kept the mud from sticking to our boots. So definitely not complaining. Yet.

This part of the trail largely stays in wooded areas away from civilization. There’s a 2km stretch past several vineyards, of which the Niagara area is famously known for.

You’ll catch these fields being worked at any time of year. We passed a man and his son working on attaching the vines to thier rows. (Disclaimer: I am in no way familiar with grape farming and have no idea what the proper terms are).

Also along this stretch, is this lovely piece of property overlooking Lake Ontario. The Bruce Trail runs right behind it (which may be a good thing or bad thing depending on your take). But check out this view: on a clear day like today, you can see the Toronto skyline.

Watching fireworks from here must be epic. I might try a night hike around here when Toronto is putting on a show.

After getting directions from a nice lady walking a gorgeous puppers we met back up with the Laura Secord Trail, and also the Great Trail (aka The Trans Canada Trail).

We start getting closer to the QEW now and the traffic noise kind of ruins the forest tranquility. But what can you do?

The Bruce Trail passes over the freeway. I wonder how many drivers notice that. I also wonder how many drivers get rocks and muds rained down on them as hikers pass above and knock thier boots off.

After the bridge we came to one of the highlights of this section: The Screaming Tunnel.

Plenty of rumors surrounding this one of a small girl that lived in a nearby farm. It burned down and she ran to the tunnel where she succumbed to her injuries.

Other stories say she was tortured and hung here. In either case, if you venture down here at midnight and light a candle, you’ll hear her screams.

Less interesting theories say it’s just the wind.

We were fairly lucky that it was still cold enough to keep the crowds away. But I do love the ghostly silhouette behind us in this photo. Adds a certain… je ne sais quois.

Past the screaming tunnel is a bit of road walking. Not our favourite but we have to get used to it as a lot of upcoming journey will be on the road. (Lame).

On this street there is a tree. This tree has an assortment of footwear nailed to it.

I cannot find nothing about this tree online (tbh I only looked for like 5 minutes and then gave up).

I’ve seen it referred to as the Shoe Tree, the Niagara Shoe Tree, and the Warner Rd Shoe Tree. I have no idea what the story is here but every picture I saw had more and more footwear on it.

If you know what the deal is, let me know in the comments?

Onwards, now closing in on our final destination of Woodend Conservation Area, after four hours on the trail. We would be done sooner but the gates to the park were NOT open despite all signage on-site and online.

Margaret Kalogeropolous side trail is where our day should have ended.

Whatever. I’m not bitter.

We made our way up and around Woodend CA and came up this lovely little building with a beautiful stone fence.

I want this stone fence when I have my tiny house. One day.

We part ways with Laura Second on the west end of the park and continue down towards Taylor Road where my car awaits us.

Here’s our stats for the day:

  • Length: 15.44km
  • Time: 3:51:04
  • Elevation Gain: 384m
  • Average Pace: 14:57/km

Next up: Niagara | Woodend Conservation to Brock University

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