Splitrock Narrows Hiking Trail

Splitrock Narrows

A relatively short hike in the Splitrock Narrows Nature Reserve, with at least a partial loop, that has all the highlights of the Bruce Trail – forests, fields, cliffs, rocky outliers and crevices, glacial spillway, and views out over the surrounding area. If that wasn’t enough, there’s free parking, a Treasure Map for the kids complete with audio on the web.

Location of the hike:

  • About an hour drive north west from Toronto or about a 20 minute drive north from Orangeville
  • Parking lot is: 755437 2nd Line EHS, Shelburne, ON L0N 1S8 at 44.074791,-80.084200
  • 1 km north of the 25th Sideroad, Mono, on the 2nd Line EHS.
  • Dufferin Hi-Land section of the Bruce Trail on Map 19 of the 27th Edition Bruce Trail Reference Guide, just north of the northern end of the Walter Tovell Side Trail.

Driving and parking:

  • Coming from the south take Hwy 10 north through Orangeville
  • Turn right (east) on 25th Sideroad (and continue through Hurontario St. and 1st Line EHS)
  • Turn left (north) on 2nd Line EHS and continue about 1.3kms
  • watch for the Split Rock Narrows parking lot on the right (east) side of the road

Suggested hike:

We’ll go on a hike in the pattern of a rotated lowercase letter ‘e’ along the well marked Bruce Trail side trails – watch for the blue blazes (painted rectangular marks on the trees) to guide your way. We did this hike in about an hour and a half, stopping along the way to take photos, enjoy the forest, and the various views. No bikes are allowed along this section of the trail. As always, we brought a bag to collect garbage, but the trail was quite clean – some cigarette butts and an empty pack at the lookout, and a few wrappers along the way.

Once you’ve parked I always suggest taking a photo of the map – in this case it is an easy enough hike, but still a good habit to get into. Walk east, away from the road along the path cut into the meadow with the tree line on your left. You’ll notice a beautiful grove of white cedars just before the path turns to the right (south).

Grove of white cedars along the Splitrock Narrows side trail

We’ll take this trail south now along the escarpment edge, through the forest, past many examples of crevices formed when water got into the rock, froze and expanded and split the rock apart a bit (cambering). It might be early for a break, but there is a bench at one of the look-outs facing east in memory of James Griffin (1937-2017) who for a time was on the Board of Directors for the Dufferin Hi-Land Bruce Trail Club. An excellent time to stop and think of all the continual hard work that goes into these free to use trails.

Looking east from the Niagara Escarpment edge along the Splitrock Narrows side trail

Continue south, into the forest to enjoy typical, and wonderful, southern Ontario forest. It won’t be long before you see the Narrows Side Trail down the escarpment edge. Continue on the main trail, resisting the urge to climb down. The paths enters the meadow for a moment, then you’ll arrive at the side trail proper. Turn to your left a bit, then take the side trail north where it ends after 100 metres or so. You’ll notice a difference in temperature, lots of ferns, and of course the escarpment rock.

Once you’ve enjoyed the side trail, retrace your steps back to the main Splitrock side trail and continue south through the forest. You’ll pass the Ralph Tremills side trail on your right, but we’ll pass that for now continuing along the path which eventually comes to the south-east corner of the Splitrock Narrows Nature Reserve, where the path turns right (west) and goes almost to the road. Lots more examples of, as the name suggests, rocks spilt from the main edge, and views through the trees.

Southern Ontario forest in September, along the Bruce Trail

Eventually you’ll get to a junction – a short path out to 2nd Line EHS on your left. It is about an 850 metre walk south to get to Mono Cliffs Provincial park and the Walter Trovell Side trail. On the right, though, is the other end of the Ralph Tremills side trail (another volunteer, born in 1930) that we saw earlier, which we will take, heading back east.

More hiking past old meadows, through the forest… We saw a toad, and a few small snakes, and many chipmunks along the way, as well as many birds, including wood peckers. We were there on a warm, late September day, with some leaves changing colour, but also some wild flowers still in bloom.

September meadow with wild purple Asters

The side trail continues east, around the private property and house on the 2nd line, and slightly north, before it ends back at the Splitrock side trail, where you’ll turn to your left (north) to retrace the hike, past the Narrows side trail on your right, and the meadow on your left, before ending back at the parking lot.

September meadow in the Splitrock Narrows Nature Reserve

Other hikes nearby:

Reference and related links:

Online audio and tree trivia for kids at The League of Trees


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