As for many popular vacation spots, the off-season makes for a quieter, less crowded time to visit the beautiful Bruce/Tobermory region. The hikes on this list can be a little more challenging but are well worth the great views of not just the fall colours but the Peninsula and the landscape this area is known for. Quality hiking boots are a must, and be sure to double-check your route before heading out, as some hikes are in ecologically sensitive areas that can be closed on short notice for protective measures.
Lion’s Head Loop
One of the most iconic hikes in all of Ontario, the Lion’s Head Loop is quite the trek—it clocks in at around 16 kilometres—but the view is beyond breathtaking, and it’s a bucket list item for avid hikers. If you’re planning to do the whole trail, budget at least eight hours to properly rest, take in the view, and give yourself time at the lookout. As the daylight hours start to dwindle in the fall, that also means you should start early. Be aware that you have to pay for parking, which is strictly enforced; if you’re doing the whole hike, pay for a full day pass to be safe. Since this hike is part of the larger Bruce Trail, the signage along the way may indicate that trail name, rather than specifically Lion’s Head the whole time—but as long as you’re heading for the lookout, you’re on the right path.
Marr Lake Trail
Located in Bruce Peninsula National Park, this moderate trail—in both length and difficulty—is another gorgeous shoreline hike, offering views of the peninsula as you walk alongside it. This area is subject to sudden closures to protect the habitat, so check ahead of time, and make sure you have your pass sorted to visit the park. Because of the rocky terrain, which includes protruding tree roots, make sure you have the proper footwear and are mindful of the trail.
Burnt Point Loop
Located in Fathom Five, the sister park to Bruce Peninsula, this moderate five-kilometre loop can be quite busy in high season. Luckily, it quiets down in the fall, making now a great time to visit—ideally before the end of October, before the terrain gets too wet and muddy. Many hikers have noted the wonderful picnic spots along the way, with beautiful views of the crystal blue Georgian Bay waters.
This is another iconic Bruce Peninsula hiking option! Don’t let the name deter you—the Devil’s Monument offers a great view of a much gentler-named landmark: the “flower pot” rock formations unique to the Bruce Peninsula. While the trail is short, it’s rocky and can be slippery, even more so if you want to trek down to the beach below, so bear that in mind. However, this hike is fairly short and easy given the view, which is the ideal combo.
Another famous stop on the larger Bruce Trail, Overhanging Point is just that—a towering rock wall that you can hike under and climb on top of for fantastic views. The hike starts at Cyprus Lake trailhead, so if you’ve done that hike and are looking for a longer day or more of a challenge, consider incorporating this one. As with the other hikes named here, the rocky areas can be quite slippery even in good weather, but with the right gear, it’s a view you won’t want to miss.
Spirit Rock Trail
Located near the less-visited (but still beautiful) southern portion of the Bruce Peninsula, Spirit Rock is a landmark hiking trail worth lacing up your boots for. There are old ruins with a staircase, which make for a cool photo-op, but be careful of pets and small children when climbing. Many hikers mention poison ivy too, which can, unfortunately, be common in this area. With all this in mind, this moderate four-kilometre hike is definitely one to keep in your back pocket for a go-to option.