The Bruce Trail, 800 kilometers along the sometimes breathtaking and always interesting Niagara Escarpment, is visited by more than 400,000 people a year. Conceived in 1960 and opened in 1967, it is the oldest and longest hiking trail in Canada.
- Advertisement -
The trail traverses public lands, roads and road allowances, land purchased by the Bruce Trail Association, and private land whose owners generously allow the trail on their property. It is maintained by volunteers from the nine local Trail Clubs.
One can find a map of the entire trail and links to featured hikes for various sections on the Bruce Trail Association's Explore the Trail/Trail Map page. There is a map at the University of Waterloo site of the southern part of the Trail which includes pointers to various notable sites along the trail in our area; the map is part of a Virtual Tour of the southern-shore portion of the Trail (Queenston to Hamilton).
In 1990 The United Nations proclaimed the Niagara Escarpment a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. In company with reserves like the Everglades, the Serengeti, and the Galapagos Islands, the Niagara Escarpment is recognized as one of the world's unique ecological environments. The ancient formation of the Niagara Escarpment shelters a rare bio-diversity of life-forms and eco-systems which have attracted visitors from around the world.
The Escarpment is home to more than 300 bird species, 53 species of mammals, 35 species of reptiles and amphibians, 90 species of fish, and 100 varieties of special interest flora, including 37 types of wild orchids. Eastern White Cedar trees over 700 years old are found growing from its cliff faceone.
Essentially, the Escarpment is a ridge of rock several hundred metres high in some locations, which forms the outer ring of the Michigan Basin; it was created through a long, complex geological process which includes its having been in the Silurian period, a sea. The Niagara section of this (rough) ring, capped with dolomite, stretches 725 kilometres (450 miles) from Queenston on the Niagara River to Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. Today, in Ontario, the Escarpment contains more than 100 sites of geological significance including some of the best exposures of rocks and fossils of the Silurian and Ordovician Periods (450 to 500 million years old, from the Palaeozoic Era) to be found anywhere in the world. Brief history at Brock U. ; also here