During this year of ups and downs, three of us recently had a few fabulous “up” days in Bruce County. The Beautiful Bruce County Bike Tour is new to Humdinger for 2020, and as we are planning to run it at the end of September, we thought we should finalize some of the details. Chef Fiona joined Guide Alec and me to ensure we were well nourished throughout the expedition. We explored from Point Clark to Pike Bay on the Huron shores before heading over to the Georgian Bay side of the Bruce Peninsula to check out Dyer’s Bay, Lion’s Head, and Wiarton. The upshot? The riding is excellent, there is no shortage of cool places to stop, and the scenery is spectacular.
Kincardine and Point Clark
From Kincardine we did an out and back ride to Point Clark. The route is mostly flat, following the Lake Huron shoreline. There are a couple of moderate hills that bring you into the rolling farmland, and overall the route is fun and fast. It is part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, and thus is very well marked. At Point Clark, check out the lighthouse, which is a National Historic Site. It is over 26 metres high and has some cool architectural features, including local limestone and bronze lion’s heads on the eaves to direct water away from the tower.
Back in Kincardine, following a small panic that we (okay, me) had misplaced all utensils for our gourmet picnic, we had a spicy rice noodle salad at MacPherson Park. It was a blistering hot day, and the crystal clear blue water was too inviting to ignore, so we popped in for a refreshing swim.
Port Elgin, Southampton, and Paisley
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail brings you north from Kincardine and into Port Elgin and Southampton, on a flat and pretty route. There are water access points and portable toilets along the way. Port Elgin and Southampton are well-serviced towns with everything you could possibly need, plus awesome beaches – well worth staying a day or two.
It may be hard to break yourself away from the vast waterfront vistas that Lake Huron offers up, but there are some inland towns that are worth a visit. We looped over to Paisley, which is a very pretty town where the Saugeen and Teeswater Rivers come together. It has an abundance of murals and other public art pieces, restaurants and shops, and provides river access for fishing and paddling.
The ride from Port Elgin up to the Peninsula and over to Lion’s Head is about 80k, on a mostly flat route, and the first three-quarters is still Great Lakes Waterfront Trail with their excellent signage. The route takes you through Sauble Beach, Howdenvale, and Pike’s Bay. Howdenvale has a beach, picnic tables, and toilets, and it is kind of half-way – all great reasons to make it a stopping point!
On our official 6-day Bruce County tour, we spend 2 nights in Lion’s Head, at the lovely waterfront Lion’s Head Beach Motel. This allows an extra day on the peninsula to do some exploring to the north. On our recon mission, we hoped to get as far as the Cabot Head Lighthouse, but the road was closed, so Dyer’s Bay was our endpoint. Along the way we stopped at Meraki Art Studios, home of Mark Nadjiwan’s Three Trees Art and Patricia Gray’s Black Spruce Studio. They are very talented artists and are welcoming and friendly too. It was well worth the visit!
Wiarton and Owen Sound
Wiarton is a happening place known as the home of groundhog Wiarton Willie, but perhaps (dare I say) more importantly, it is the gateway to the Bruce Peninsula. Bluewater Park has picnic tables and toilets, and not to far away, Northern Confections has coffee, sweets, ice cream, some pastries, and a large patio. Their butter tarts are some of the best I have ever tasted, but I encourage you to go and judge for yourself.
Riding on Grey Road 1 out of Wiarton brings you to the Escarpment Loop, and if you can stand it, more waterfront views. Yes, full disclosure, we do sneak into neighbouring Grey County for a wee bit on the Bruce tour. But when you stop at the Colpoy’s Lookout, you are looking at the Bruce Peninsula, so it still counts 🙂 Here you can feast you eyes on Georgian Bay and read about Skinner Bluff and the Jane Miller shipwreck.
Owen Sound is not in Bruce County, nor is it on our Bruce tour, but we do pass through occasionally with custom tours, and it is on our way back home to Simcoe County. So we treated ourselves to lunch and beer on the patio at Mudtown Station Brewery and Restaurant. The brewmaster is the owner, and all the beer we sampled was excellent – my personal fave was the Wigwag IPA. The food is a few large steps above standard pub fare. We tried the burger, Korean chicken sandwich, and a potato and pea salad with lemon and dill. Chef Fiona declared the house-made pickles that came with her chicken sandwich “soooooooo goooood” and still looks dreamy eyed when I mention them long after our trip. The fries were crispy and chunky and delicious. Oh yeah – it is also located in an old railway station in the historic Owen Sound harbour. Everything about this place is great – check it out!
What to know about road cycling in Bruce County
Great scenery, low traffic, and great places to visit – so a near-perfect cycling destination! Be aware that here are a couple of main highways in Bruce that have heavy traffic – most notably Highway 6 should be avoided! Also note that it is hard to fully explore Bruce County without running into some gravel from time to time. Use tires that can handle gravel if you come across it.
If you are sticking to the coastline, the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail routes are excellent. You can download maps from their website, and you can also be fairly confident in just following their on-road signage. Bruce County publishes a number of additional routes that combine coastal and inland riding that are worth exploring.
Enjoy your visit, and contact us if you are interested in a fully guided tour or some support for your self-guided tour.
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