This past weekend we spent 2 nights backpacking on the Bruce Trail in Bruce Peninsula National Park. There are two backcountry campgrounds in the park, Stormhaven and High Dump. We drove up from Toronto on Friday morning and went to the main office at Cyprus Lake to pick up our permits. Originally we were going to park at Cyprus Lake, hike to Stormhaven on Day 1, hike to High Dump on Day 2, and then hike all the way back to Cyprus Lake on Day 3. The staff person working at the main office suggested that we park at Halfway Log Dump instead, which is between Stormhaven and High Dump, thus making our Day 3 trip a lot more reasonable.
We took the wise staff person’s advice and drove on over to Halfway Log Dump. When you first leave the parking lot, there is a nice, easy trail that takes you down to the beach that’s 1 KM long or so.
Once you get to the end of this trail you want to turn left for Stormhaven. Be careful as the trail to Stormhaven is easy to miss and isn’t marked when you are coming from the parking lot. If you have extra time take the pebbly path down to Halfway Log Dump, it’s very lovely!
The sign says that Stormhaven is 2.7 KM, but the map says it’s 2.0 KM. I’m not sure which is correct, but 2.7 sounds about right to me. It’s a very rugged trail, so even though the distance sounds short, it will still take you awhile. The trail is very rocky and there is a lot of climbing and descending, but you are rewarded with views such as this:
Although beautiful, these views can be a bit terrifying if you are scared of heights and/or plummeting to your death (like me).
We reached Stormhaven around 5:00 PM or so and made our way to our camp site (#9). We were right by the beach and a bit secluded from the other sites, I’d definitely recommend it.
Once we set up camp we spent some time exploring the amazing beach.
That night it started to rain and it didn’t stop until we were out on the trail again heading to High Dump. This meant the trail was very slippery, as it’s mostly exposed rock. It was extremely slow-going.
We hiked the 2.7 KM (or 2.0, who knows) to Halfway Log Dump and then continued on the Bruce Trail for another 6.6 KM to High Dump (again, the map has a different distance listed, which I can’t remember at the moment). This trail starts out easily enough, it follows the forest floor with a gradual incline.
Don’t get too comfortable though, soon it will turn into steep ascents (some of which we had to scale and climb) and descents (some of which required sliding down the rocks on my butt like a slide). Again, everything was super slippery from the rain and so we had to be really careful.
It wasn’t all bad though, there were still amazing views:
Eventually you get to a point where you take a side trail to High Dump. By the time we got to this point the rain had picked up again. The descent down into High Dump is so steep that it requires a rope that is hanging from trees in order to support yourself. To me, this was terrifying in the slippery rain and it took me awhile to make it down. Eventually we got to the bottom and set up camp at 5:30 PM or so.
We had site #9 and it’s quite a distance from the bear poles and toilet, but you are really secluded and off by yourself. There’s even a small cave right behind the camp site which came in handy for keeping things dry in the pouring rain. The light was horrible and I didn’t want to take out my camera in the rain but I managed to get a few shots at our site:
The rain continued all night and all morning. If there was an easy way to teleport back to the car I would have, but unfortunately the only thing to do was to pack up, climb out with that rope, and carefully make our way back over the slippery rocky trail. It took us about 5 hours, but eventually we made it back to Halfway Log Dump.
Oh, and given all the rain, I had a chance to try out a trash bag rain skirt, which was amazing for keeping our pants dry!