Education and Fundraising Activities Mark Bruce Trail Month

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Barrow Bay Lookout. Photo Courtesy of Barbara Reuber.

By Joanne Rodgers, Bruce Peninsula Press

The Peninsula Bruce Trail Club hosted interpretive hikes and community outreach initiatives to celebrate Bruce Trail Month. With over 250 volunteers and over 800 members, the Peninsula Bruce Trail club joined the other eight clubs of the Bruce Trail Conservancy to raise awareness, educate and increase memberships and donations in October.

Hiking Programs Adapted for 2020

Each of the nine clubs offer hiking programs, but this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the hikes were suspended in mid-March and did not resume until the end of June, as a temporary measure, only for Bruce Trail Members and in small groups. In August, the Peninsula Club resumed its hiking program, offering loop hikes and interpretive hikes. The interpretive hikes focused on the ecology of the local area with subject matter experts as guides. The fall hikes proved quite popular. The Owl Prowl had seven participants and was led by two SON Knowledge Holders Miptoon (Anthony Chegahno) and ecologist Jarmo Jalava. The group visited three sites and heard a saw-whet owl, great horned owl and a screech owl. In addition, the group saw a great horned owl and a friendly skunk.

The Peninsula Club hopes to offer more interpretive hikes next year, for example, focusing on ferns, orchids, in addition to the club’s annual birding hike. Another idea being considered is to offer greater education around outdoor experiences for visitors such as “Hiking 101” workshops.

Events: New & Old

The Great Bruce Trail Scavenger Hunt was organized by the Peninsula Adventure Sports Association (PASA) in cooperation with the Peninsula Bruce Trail Club, Bruce Trail Conservancy, Tobermory Press and Tobermory Primary Place Daycare to raise funds for Tobermory’s Primary Place Daycare. From October 3 -18, participants were able to take part in the virtual scavenger hunt anywhere along the Bruce Trail. The event was not limited to the Wiarton to Tobermory trails, and encouraged participants to explore the trail closest to where they live and to stay within their social circles.

Each spring the Club holds a “Spruce up the Bruce” weekend. Historically this event started when many of the Club volunteers lived away from the area and came up to conduct trail maintenance. Falling victim to COVID-19, along with the Peninsula Club’s Volunteer Appreciation event, both were cancelled this year, but a special limited issue badge was given to volunteers to thank them for getting the trail in good shape for the reopening on June 2.

The limited edition Welcome Back badge.

Re-Routing Trails For Optimal Route

The Bruce Trail purposefully seeks to reroute trails to an optimal route for an enhanced hiking experience, often aiming to get the trail off roadways. The Barrow Bay Trail with its new staircase rerouted the trail off the county road to a route along the escarpment. During summer and fall, there was a steady flow of locals and hikers keen to visit the staircase and lookouts on the way to Rush Cove.

Local hikers visit Barrow Bay Staircase.

Bruce Trail Conservancy:
A Trail Association and Land Trust

The Bruce Trail Conservancy is both a trail association and a land trust. The Bruce Trail does not own or manage all the lands which the trail transverses. The Peninsula section of the trail crosses lands that belong to Parks Canada, the province, conservation authorities, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation and private landowners. The Club works in conjunction with these stakeholders to address issues including signage, reviewing parking areas, education and improved visitor amenities. Currently, the Club actively manages over 4,000 acres of lands owned by the Bruce Trail Conservancy and Ontario Heritage Trust. Approximately 25% of the Peninsula section of the trail is on private land permissible by handshake agreements with landowners.

To find out more about the local club, please visit https://www.pbtc.ca