ANCIENT REEF AND ESCARPMENT, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Continuing on the accounts of our experiences at parks in Southern Ontario, this time we would write about the Bruce Peninsular National Park. At Bruce Peninsular that separates the Georgian Bay from Lake Huron, Bruce Peninsular National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park are popular among hikers, adventurers, and tourists. From Tobermory at the tip of Bruce Peninsular, regular tour boats take visitors out to Flower Pot Island to appreciate its unique rock formations, and Cove Island for its romantic lighthouse. Adventure seekers also regard the Fathom Five National Marine Park, the area south of Cove Island, as a paradise for shipwreck scuba-diving. Back on the shore of mainland, Tobermory is a hub for all activities in the area. Regular ferry also departs from here to Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world. Near Tobermory, the Bruce Peninsular National Park offers a well maintained natural reserve for nature lovers and hikers who either begin or end the 700km Bruce Trail that connects Tobermory to Niagara.
450 millions years ago during the Silurian era, a shallow warm sea covered a vast area of Northeastern United States and the Province of Ontario in Canada within a depression in the Earth crust known as Michigan Basin. Known as the Niagara Escarpment, the northern edge of Michigan Basin is still visible today. The Niagara Escarpment runs like an arch from the western edge of Lake Michigan up along the southern edge of Manitoulin Island, and from the Bruce Peninsular all the way down to the New York State, cutting through Southern Ontario between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie where the Niagara River makes the famous 50m drop at Niagara Falls. For 700km from Niagara-on-the Lake to Tobermory, the Bruce Trail runs almost in alignment with the Niagara Escarpment. It is the longest and oldest marked hiking trail in Canada. Before hitting its terminus at Tobermory, the trail enters the Bruce Peninsula National Park where we visited twice in 2007 and 2011.
The first time we visited Tobermory, we spent a long time on the beaches at Burnt Point. We were fascinated by the crystal clear water in gradient tones of turquoise. The rocks at the beaches were light grey in colour, and were covered with small holes as if bombarded with rounds of shelling. These unique grey rocks eroded by wave actions and layers of flat stone platforms in the turquoise water were fossil evidences of the prehistoric past at the Bruce Peninsula, when the tropical sea of Michigan Basin was full of marine life and coral reefs. It was hard to imagine that the cool temperate Bruce Peninsular was once a tropical reef similar to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. During our second visit of the park we spent a little more time visiting its unique grotto and stone beaches, and walking its network of hiking trails where from time to time thousand-year old cedar trees and prehistoric reef fossils revealed the ever-changing natural landscape of our planet.
The Big Tub Lighthouse was declared a recognized heritage building since the early 1990s. A major restoration to the the Big Tub Lighthouse was made in 1987 after a fierce winter storm washed away its shingle sidings and part of the foundation.
At Burnt Point, the water was so clean that the flat rock platforms under water could be seen clearly from above. When the wind brew over the peaceful bay, the rippled image of the rocks produced a poetic Impressionist painting on the water surface.
Indian Head Cove Beach (background). Many visitors love to explore the Grotto near the beach. The Grotto (foreground) can be reached on foot from the beach but it requires some simple rock climbing skills.
The entrance to the Grotto (foreground) and Indian Head Cove Beach (background). Visitors have to climb down from the cliff top to reach the Grotto on foot. It isn’t an easy direct route but it still attract many visitors. Swimming from the Indian Head Cove Beach is another popular option to access the Grotto if the water is warm enough for a comfortable swim.
* * *
Read other posts on Parks of Southern Ontario
1.1 Land of Water and Forest, Algonquin Park, Ontario ( 1 of 3)
1.2 A Tale of Rocks and Maples, Algonquin, Ontario ( 2 of 3)
1.3 When Moose Meets Beaver, Algonquin, Ontario, (3/3)
2. Ancient Reef and Escarpment, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
3. Algonquin Legend and Mazinaw Pictographs, Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario