The Sydenham Section of the Bruce Trail continues northbound after the Beaver Valley section, starting in the almost deserted hamlet of Blantyre, on Grey County Road 12, and then winds its way along the Niagara Escarpment for about 170 kilometres until it arrives in Bluewater Park in downtown Wiarton.
Leaving Blantyre, the Trail passes through hardwood forests and farms, past wetlands, small creeks, the lovely Walters Falls, and features some beautiful lookouts over the Big Head valley.
Turning north, the Trail soon arrives at the Bognor Marsh Management Area. Bognor Marsh includes upland forests, three major marshes, natural regeneration areas, and several small springs feeding the marsh and stream system, which are home to a variety of waterfowl and other marsh-living animals, birds and plants. The Trail passes by an education shelter, and follows boardwalks with interpretive signs, and a viewing tower from which to enjoy the marsh and its inhabitants.
The Trail then heads out to the Bayview Escarpment Provincial Nature Reserve, with broad, sweeping outlooks over the Meaford Tank Range, and beyond to Georgian Bay and as far as Collingwood.
Returning toward Owen Sound (the city), you hike through the Sydenham Forests, and notice occasional outlooks to Owen Sound (the bay). The Trail soon arrives at the Centennial Tower, with its exceptional views of the Owen Sound re-entrant valley. From the Tower you head south again through some spectacular fern glens and the recently acquired Palisades property on the “East Rocks”, eventually arriving at the well-known Inglis Falls at Inglis Falls Conservation Area. Heading north from Inglis Falls the Trail reaches the "West Rocks" at West Rocks Management Area and past some great lookouts over the city.
Heading north from Owen Sound the Trail enters the Pottawatomi Conservation Area where you can stand atop the lip of Jones Falls looking straight down as the water plunges over the Escarpment.
The Trail leaves Owen Sound via the Georgian Bluff Rail Trail, and soon arrives at The Glen Management Area. This horseshoe shaped indentation in the Escarpment was carved millennia ago by glaciers. As you walk along the cliff tops, you can look down into a sea of green that contains a significant wetland and waterfowl population.
Continuing north, you’ll hike through the Lindenwood property, which was purchased by the BTC in 2009, with donations from many members and other conservation minded individuals, to preserve and protect another large tract of Escarpment land for perpetuity. Several such conservation properties have been secured by the BTC in Sydenham section.
Further north, you will climb an old road allowance over Kemble Mountain before coming out along a road section. The section from Kemble Mountain to Dodd's Hill is filled with fissures and is another SBTC fern paradise - watch for walking ferns and much more.
After passing by the 'Slough of Despond' you come to what is viewed by many as the gem of the Sydenham Section - the 11 km stretch from Skinner's Bluff to the Bruce's Caves Conservation Area parking lot.
Along here there are many spectacular lookouts over Colpoys Bay and many great spots for a picnic lunch. Another 7 km past Bruce's Caves will bring you to Bluewater Park in Wiarton where we link up with the Peninsula section.
Open fires on the trail are not permitted and any natural water source should be considered unsafe unless boiled.
Many of the natural areas are noted for their varied plants, especially ferns, some of which are quite rare.
There is ample opportunity for skiing or snow shoeing in areas like Massie Hills, Inglis Falls, above the Owen Sound's west rocks, and in 'The Glen'.
There are several enjoyable side trails - consult your up-to-date maps for more information.
A very important resource for hiking the Bruce Trail is a map! The Bruce Trail Reference Guide is a full set of 42 maps for the entire Bruce Trail. The brand new 50th Anniversary special edition (edition 29) is now available! Or if you just need 1 map, you can download singles here.
Another mobile option is the Bruce Trail App.
Or, if you just plan to hike in the Sydenham section, check out our Looping Thru Sydenham book, which describes delightful local hikes using the main Bruce Trail and some of its Side Trails.
Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans; formerly Rhus radicans) is a North American plant, well known for its sap that causes an itching rash. Old saying: "Leaves of Three, Let Them Be!" The three common forms are:
‣ Trailing/creeping ground cover/vine, 10-25 cm tall
‣ Shrub up to 1.2 m tall
‣ Climbing woody vine that grows on trees - poison ivy vine | poison ivy on shagbark hickory
The deciduous leaves of poison ivy are trifoliate with three almond-shaped leaflets. Leaf colour ranges from rusty brown (when first unfurling in early spring), light green (the younger leaves), dark green (mature leaves), and turning bright red in fall. The milky sap of poison ivy darkens after exposure to the air. Read more about and see more pictures of poison ivy at the websites listed below.