We approached the Bruce Peninsula from the north, which means via ferry from Manitoulin Island. This is a large car ferry that makes the 2 hour trip several times each day. Since it was summer and the car deck could get quite hot, dogs are allowed on one particular deck (outside only). This of course is the dog deck, and Trout's first ferry ride of any real length (that we can recall anyway).
Approaching Tobermory on the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, the ferry passes fairly close to the assorted islands that make up Fathom Five National Marine Park. The largest of these is Cove Island, most notable for the lighthouse pictured here.
The town of Tobermory is pretty much what you'd expect from a small vacation town on one of the Great Lakes. A lot of fried seafood, ice cream, a cute little harbor filled with boats and a confusing system of one-way roads. Since we arrived late the first night we came into town for fried seafood, ice cream and to get lost on the confusing system of one-way roads. After that, we mostly visited Tobermory for groceries and other supplies.
We camped at Cyprus Lake - the only campground in Bruce Peninsula National Park. Most of the Bruce Peninsula is actually just rolling farmland. The west side slopes gently down to Lake Huron. The east side is more interesting as that is where the Niagara Escarpment rises dramatically out of Georgian Bay. Cyprus Lake campground is just a mile or so from the eastern shore of the peninsula.
There are a multitude of connecting trails, all of which sooner or later intersect the Bruce Trail. The Bruce Trail runs across the width of southern Ontario from the Niagara River to Tobermory. The stretch through the national park is particularly scenic.
The shoreline of Georgian Bay is a collection of tide pools, rocky outcrops and low ridges which are submerged when the tide is high. This makes for great swimming for dogs which happen to be afraid of waves. It also makes for great swimming for people, but we'll get to that picture shortly. This area is north of Indian Cove Beach along the Bruce Trail, just past an over-photographed rock called Overhanging rock.
The grotto here seems to be the iconic landform of the Bruce Peninsula. Nearly everyone comes here and takes this picture. Some people climb down and stand around inside it or swim inside it. Scuba divers can also enter through a submerged tunnel. We didn't hike down to it because it appeared to already be quite crowded in there, and this doesn't seem like a great hike with a dog on a leash. Instead we went up and over the grotto's ridge, which leads to…
Indian Cove Beach. We have never seen this many people at one location that required a reasonable hike to get to. That includes the geysers in Yellowstone. This was all the chaos you'd expect from a public beach anywhere else in the world.
This is the view from the other side of the cove. We found this slightly sheltered tide pool and hung out for a while, mostly just watching. The most amazing thing about this beach is that you can hike 10 minutes down the Bruce Trail in either direction and there will only be a couple other people in sight. 20 minutes in either direction and you'll be alone.
Speaking of the Bruce Trail, while much of it meanders through forest up on the headlands, portions of it down on the beach are really difficult to hike on. It's basically a trough of rocks set into the otherwise large indistinct mass of rocks that makes up the shore. Your ankles are guaranteed to hate you after about 15 minutes of this. Also, following the trail can be a bit tricky at times, especially where it runs between the rocks and the forest.
We left Indian Cove Beach, hiked a ways south along the trail and then selected our own deserted beach to have lunch on. Things were going along nicely until this snake decided that Trout was probably just a big furry rock and swam out to where he was lying in the water. Luckily this is not a massasauga but a common water snake. It was an exciting moment for all of us though, including the snake.
In two or three days you can see most of what there is to see on the Bruce Peninsula. South of the national park, it merges into southern Ontario again. There are quite a lot of boat trips out to the marine park where shipwreck diving is popular. Again, that's not really the ideal sport to do with a dog so we stayed on land (or water within swimming distance of land), mostly hiking.