A Guide to Hiking the Bruce Trail

Bruce trail

Any hiker in Canada has heard of the Bruce Trail.

This legendary trail is a must-visit for any hiker. Not only is it rich in diverse plants, wild animals, and birds, it's also a named UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.


This guide discusses everything you need to know about the Bruce Trail, including a description of the trail and tips for successfully hiking the Bruce Trail.

Let's get right into it.

What is the Bruce Trail?

The Bruce Trail is Canada's oldest and longest hiking trail. This 900 km epic trek stretches along the Niagara Escarpment, running from Queenston to Tobermory.

First opened in 1967, the trail was the brainchild of Raymond Lowes and Robert Bateman, who envisioned a trail along the whole Niagara Escarpment.

Since it's located on a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the Bruce Trail is well-known for its diverse plant and animal life.

While on the trail, you can expect to come across a range of habitats, including:

  • The Great Lakes
  • Wetlands
  • Woodlands
  • Cliffs
  • Savannahs
  • Swamps
  • Coastlines

From these different habitats, you get the chance to experience over 300 different bird species, 55 mammals, over 90 species of fish, 36 reptiles and amphibians, and over 100 plant species.

And that's not all!

The Bruce Trail also has over 400 km of side trails that you can explore.

Things to Know Before Visiting the Bruce Trail

The Bruce Trail is a Public Footpath

One of the first things to note with the Bruce Trail is that only foot traffic is allowed on most parts of the trail.

The only parts you can use your vehicle are on sections of the trail on the road.

The Forest Along the Trail is Off Limits

Since the Niagara escarpment is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, most areas along the trail are environmentally sensitive.

Due to this fact, you're advised not to venture into the forest as you negatively affect the diverse plant and wildlife populations in the woods.

Only Camp at Designated Campsites

You can't camp wherever you want on the Bruce Trail.

If you're planning a thru-hike on this legendary trail, you'll need to plan for your accommodation in advance.

Some of the areas you can camp include parks and private campsites. And if camping isn't an option for you, you can choose to book a hotel room.

Know the Bruce Trail User Code

Some of the essential rules to follow while on the Bruce Trail include:

  • Hike only along marked routes. Do not take shortcuts.
  • Do not climb fences. Use the stiles.
  • Respect the privacy of people living along the trail.
  • Leave the trail cleaner than you found it. Carry out all litter.
  • No open fires are allowed on the trail. Use a portable stove.
  • Camp only at designated campsites.
  • Leave flowers and plants for others to enjoy.
  • Do not damage live trees or strip off the bark.
  • Keep dogs on a leash and under control at all times.
  • Do not disturb wildlife.
  • Leave only your thanks and take nothing but photographs.
  • Obey all signage.

Bruce Trail - Wikipedia

Source of image: Wikipedia

Tips for Hiking the Bruce Trail

Follow the Blazes

While you're on the Bruce Trail, it's essential that you pay attention to your surroundings.

This includes paying close attention to any signage and blazes (white rectangles painted on trees, rocks, and fence posts) along the trail.

You might also notice blue blazes on the trail. These help to indicate a side trail.

Have the Right Gear

For any hike, it's essential to have the right gear.

This includes having a sturdy pair of footwear, having the right hiking pants, jacket, and the correct backpack for your adventure.

And what better place to get your hiking gear than Northbound Gear. At Northbound Gear, we are committed to providing you with the highest quality outdoor apparel.

Whether it's hiking pants, jackets, socks, or backpacks, the Northbound Gear online shop has you covered.

Stock up on Sunscreen and Bug Spray

While much of the Bruce Trail is covered, it's still essential to stock up on sunscreen.

In addition, bug spray is also a must-have if you're planning on hiking the Bruce Trail. Due to the high forested state of some parts of the trail, mosquitos and blackflies are likely to be a nuisance.

So come prepared.

Have Access to Maps

This is a basic rule for any hiking trip.

Even if the trail is marked, make sure to have your map. This could be either digital or on paper.

You can purchase a map to the Bruce Trail or download the Bruce Trail Conservancy App. This App makes it easier to track your locations and stay updated in case of trail closures.

Be Aware of Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy is quite rampant on the Bruce Trail and side trails.

While there are signs along the trail warning you of poison ivy, be sure to keep a careful eye to avoid any incidents with these nasty plants. If you're ever unsure whether the plant is poison ivy or not, simply remember to keep off anything with leaves of three, hairy vines and white berries.

Some areas of the trail also have giant hogweed, which can also cause serious injury.

Bruce Trail FAQ

Can You Hike The Bruce Trail in the Winter?


The Bruce Trail is open all year round, making it possible to hike even in the winter.

Hiking in the winter is advantageous since there are fewer people and practically no bugs. However, if you're looking to hike the Bruce Trail during winter, it's best to be prepared.

This includes having the right winter hiking gear and knowing how to keep warm while backpacking.

Can You Bike on the Bruce Trail?

As far as I know, there's nothing explicitly saying you cannot bike on the Bruce Trail.

However, thanks to the terrain and the high number of staircases on the trail, cycling on the trail might be a bit tiring since you'll have to carry your bike up and down.

Ready to Hike the Bruce Trail?

There you go.

All you need to know to hike the Bruce Trail successfully. With these tips in your arsenal, you're sure to enjoy your hike on this legendary trail.

Do you know of any other tips to successfully hike the Bruce Trail? Please tell us in the comments section below.

And if you're looking for high-quality outdoor apparel for your trek along the Bruce Trail, Northbound Gear has got you covered. Our online shop has everything you'll need to hike the Bruce Trail.

Onwards and Upwards with Northbound Gear.


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