Halfway Log Dump and Bruce Peninsula National Park are one of Ontario’s premier destinations for hiking, bouldering and rock climbing. Just half an hour away from the tip of the peninsula and the town of Tobermory, this picturesque park is home to many protected species and is the perfect place for activities such as canoeing, camping, swimming and SUP boarding. A group of friends and I visited the park for a weekend of climbing and camping. This is our story.
We arrived late afternoon on Friday. My fiancée and I stopped in Toronto to pick up a buddy of mine and by the time we worked through the city traffic, packed more ice in our coolers, and picked up National Park passes from MEC it was over a six hour trip to get there. We texted the owner of White Bluff Campground, Lois, that we would be a little late arriving. By the time we got there and got our tents set up it was time to cook dinner. Tyler and Sheba showed up in a white work van retrofitted with a bed, propane stove, and solar panels a little later to complete our group. We planned to get up early the next morning to beat the rush into the park, but after a late night around the campfire and an early morning rain, we decided to sleep in.
We arrived to the park around noon, and as we expected, the line up to get in was fairly large. Because entrance to Canadian national parks is free this year, attendants were posted at the entrance and allowed one car in every time a car left. Matt pulled out his acoustic guitar and we got a dance party/sing along spreading through the line, which made the forty minute wait go by quite quickly. Eventually it was our turn to enter. A fifteen minute drive into the park brought us to the trail head, followed by a ten minute walk down to the rock beach. We packed our backpacks and crash pads left past the gaggle of tourists that were accumulating at the water’s edge, and picked our way over the rocks and boulders until we reached an unexpected traverse through cold, waist deep Lake Huron water. The best climbing spots were on the other side, so we emptied our pockets and worked our way carefully to the other side.
The climbing was difficult, but excellent. We refused to buy a guide book from MEC because of the $28 price tag, so we merely looked for chalk marks on the rock and followed Tyler’s lead, who had been there before. While there were multiple climbs per rock, the bouldering was fairly spread out and we had to hike a good ways between climbs. Due to the rocky landings and grimy holds we faced, we jumped on grades from V1 to around V4 or 5, taking breaks often and enjoying the beautiful scenery. I found a guide from the Ontario Access Coalition online after the trip, which lists the rules for outdoor climbing in Ontario and breaks down some of the grades and starting points. For those interested, it is available here in PDF format. We left when the sun started to sink lower in the sky and returned to the campsite for another night around the campfire and under the stars.
The next day we attempted to visit the Groto, a cave along the shoreline with a tunnel under the rock out into the lake. We were turned away at the entrance, with guards telling us that we would need to return the next day right at 7am to get access due to the amount of people trying to get in. We returned to HWLD to attempt some of the climbs that we weren’t able to get to the day before and ended up spending the rest of the day there.
The Bruce Peninsula is an amazing spot for camping and outdoor activities. Tobermory is home to Fathom Five National Marine Park, an underwater park consisting of many ship wrecks which is frequented by divers and snorkelers. Flowerpot Island is also a hot spot, an island consisting of massive “flowerpot” rock formations. While we only made it to Bruce Peninsula National Park and Halfway Log Dump this time, the peninsula has something for everyone and is an amazing and cheap spot to spend a long weekend or even a week discovering its treasures.
Jonathan Beam is the author of Crimson Morning - The Philosophy of Travel, available on the member page by signing up above. He is a blogger who writes about travel, adventure and philosophy. He has also written a novel that is currently under consideration to be published!