Running the Bruce Trail End to End: Getting Started + Iroquoia Section

At some point last year, my husband Alasdair decided to run the entire Bruce Trail, so I thought it would be fun to take on the challenge too, knowing that it would take us several years, and that we would do some parts together, and some parts separately. We each downloaded the Bruce Trail app, and started tracking our runs.

What’s the Bruce Trail? According to the Bruce Trail Conservancy website, the Bruce Trail is “Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. Running along the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario from Niagara to Tobermory, the Bruce Trail spans more than 890 km of main Trail and over 400 km of associated side trails.”

There are 9 sections of the trail. I live in the Iroquoia section just 2 km from the trail – lucky me! You can learn more about all the sections here:

Niagara – Queenston to Grimsby (Maps 1-5) (read summary here)
Iroquoia – Grimsby to Milton (Maps 5-11)
Toronto – Milton to Cheltenham (Maps 11-14) (read summary here)
Caledon Hills – Cheltenham to Mono Centre (Maps 14-19) (read summary here)
Dufferin Hi-Land – Mono Centre to Lavender (Maps 19-21) (read summary here)
Blue Mountains – Lavender to Craigleith (Maps 21-24) (read summary here)
Beaver Valley – Craigleith to Blantyre (Maps 24-28) (read summary here)
Sydenham – Blantyre to Wiarton (Maps 28-35)
Peninsula – Wiarton to Tobermory (Maps 35-42)

I was strictly a road runner until a couple of years ago when I started orienteering, which got me running on and off trail looking for controls (checkpoints) in the woods. However, it wasn’t until I started this end to end goal that I became a regular trail runner! I love it. It is so much more peaceful than running on the road, and way more scenic. I’m hooked.

I had previously hiked many different short bits of the trail over the years, but I’ve been enjoying rediscovering sections that I’ve been on before, and running on sections that are completely new to me. So far, I love the waterfalls along the trail the most.

As the parts of the trail that I need to cover get further and further away from home, things will get more complicated, and will definitely require some overnight trips. For now though, I’ve started close to home!

IROQUOIA SECTION

Started the Iroquoia section: October 27, 2018

Finished the Iroquoia section: December 26, 2018

Note: While I completed the Iroquoia section, the part of the trail that runs through Kelso Conservation Area in Milton was closed, so I ran the rerouted section along Appleby Line instead. I’ll go back in the spring to do the Kelso section.

Run details

  • October 27, 2018 – Rockcliffe Road, Waterdown to Borer’s Falls, Dundas – 14.3k
  • October 28, 2018 – Rockcliffe Road, Waterdown to Grindstone Falls, Waterdown – 5.7k
  • November 2, 2018 – Borer’s Falls, Dundas to Davidson Boulevard, Dundas (with a side trip to Tews Falls) – 22k
  • November 4, 2018 – Mount Nemo/Walker’s Line, Burlington to No. 8 Sideroad, Burlington – 10.8k
  • November 14, 2018 – Grindstone Falls, Waterdown to Highway 5, Burlington – 12.4k
  • November 24, 2018 – Highway 5, Burlington to Mount Nemo/Walker’s Line, Burlington – 10.2k
  • December 1, 2018 – No. 8 Sideroad, Burlington to Crawford Lake, Milton – 11.8k
  • December 8, 2018 – Crawford Lake, Milton to Hilton Falls, Milton – 13k (northern end of the Iroquoia section)
  • December 14 – Davidson Boulevard, Dundas to Filman Road, Ancaster – 12k
  • December 16, 2018 – Filman Road, Ancaster to King’s Forest Golf Course, Hamilton – 16.2k
  • December 22, 2018 – King’s Forest Golf Course, Hamilton to Millen Road, Stoney Creek – 19.5k
  • December 26, 2018 – Millen Road, Stoney Creek to Elm Street, Grimsby – 19.7k (southern end of the Iroquoia section)

Run stats

  • # runs: 12
  • # solo runs: 5
  • # runs with my husband Alasdair: 6
  • # runs with friends: 1 (Laura – yay to having similar running paces!)
  • shortest run: 5.7k
  • longest run: 22k
  • average length of run: 14k
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With Laura at the Hermitage, Ancaster

Run highlights

Hardest section to run: between Millen Road in Stoney Creek and Elm Street in Grimsby, because of the abundance of wet and loose rocks

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Albion Falls, Hamilton

Most waterfalls: between King’s Forest Golf Course in Hamilton and Millen Road in Stoney Creek – Albion Falls, Buttermilk Falls, Felkers Falls, and the Devil’s Punchbowl

Most scenic: see most waterfalls!

Scariest moment: while running through the Royal Botanical Gardens in Dundas, I encountered an illegal hunter in full camouflage carrying a bow and arrow, standing just off the trail and looking down the hill into the woods – I said to him, “Whatever you do, please don’t shoot me!” to which he replied, “I won’t.” (I made a report to the police, the Ministry of Natural Resources, and through a friend, to the RBG.)

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After the hunter incident, on my next run I wore a reflective safety vest, a flashing light on my leg, and a bear bell on my foot! Since I ran through Dundas on this run, several people turned and wondered what all the jingling was about. One kid started singing Jingle Bells.

Wildlife sightings: 2 close-up raccoons (separate runs), and a salamander at Crawford Lake, which my husband nearly stepped on as he ran – we placed it gently in mud close to a log, covered it in leaves, and wished it well!

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At Crawford Lake, Milton

Favourite run: the waterfall run!

Most memorable encounter with other hikers/runners: a little girl hiking with her parents, who said as I passed, “She runs so FAST!”; a couple carrying pruning shears and a saw to do trail maintenance; the hunter

Neat finds: caves just East of Twiss Road in Burlington; Devil’s Punch Bowl Market & Bakery for post run treats!

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Cave off Twiss Road, Burlington

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