Bruce Peninsula is a gorgeous area to ride. Gravel roads lined with forested areas, open fields, crystal clear waters, sprinkled with farmhouses and cottages.
I hadn't been up this way in a couple of years and was visiting a friend in Wiarton so decided to tack on a ride from Lion's Head to the Cabot Head Lighthouse. I followed the
Bruce Peninsula Gravel Gran Fondo route - 80km return from town to the lighthouse and back. The gravel run, slated for Sunday October 6th, is raising funds for the
Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association which undertakes environmental projects to help protect the Bruce.
Although I had ridden most of the route before, I was looking forward to the nice views and animal spottings again.
Almost immediately I biked by a bright, squishy caterpillar and stopped to hang out for a bit. I looked it up after the ride - it's the caterpillar of a giant silk moth with purplish eyespots. Pretty neat. A couple hundred metres later I spotted a snake, and then another and another. There were lots!
I arrived at the section of the Bruce Trail that needed to be walked (biking is not permitted). I got in a good groove and managed through the 1.1 km of rocky terrain rather quickly. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have been able to ride it much faster without puncturing a tire.
After this it was smooth sailing - some more gravel and paved roads near the bayside cottages. The gravel trail leading to the Cabot Head Lighthouse was marked with a sign noting that there was no public access to the lighthouse. My friend had mentioned that the lighthouse was closed due to lack of volunteers and mercury contamination in the soil. I was unclear if the trail would be barricaded or if the lighthouse just wasn't open to visitors, so continued on. (Also I wasn't planning on eating the soil.)
Some of the nicest views were on this stretch: wide open waters and blue sky. There were quite a few segments riddled with potholes which were fun to weave around.
A hundred metres or so before the lighthouse, there was a barricade noting 'road closed' and 'no trespassing'. Not my finest hour, but I skirted by, knowing that my presence wouldn't impact the land or function of the lighthouse. I also knew that the lighthouse would be accessible in two week's time during the gravel run so it wasn't a safety issue. (I would recommend that if you want to do this ride outside of the organized gravel run, that you plan a little better than I did, contact the organization that runs the lighthouse and ask for permission.)
The views were quaint however the flies were plenty and keen on biting me so I didn't stay long - I snapped a couple photos and was on my way.
Riding back along the shoreline, I caught some nice contrasts as the sun was beginning to set.
My goal was to get back to town just before dark. Mission accomplished - but some wild cows did try to hold me back! I got a kick out of them standing in the middle of the road, staring at me, not moving, even as I approached. Eventually they dipped into the field on the side and I continued on.
One last tractor sunset photo op and I was back to town.
Although the official gravel run is sold out this year, I highly recommend getting up to this area and exploring it by bike when you can!)