Bruce Trail hike - Speyside forest, Limehouse Conservation Area, and the Hole in the Wall

Background:

This is really three hikes in one. Unfortunately not a loop, but a long hike through prime Bruce Trail country side, through farmer's fields, and you won't have to walk along roadways. The entire hike took me 6 hours, but I took LOTS of photos, so I'm sure it could be done in 4.5 or so. Some of the trail is quite rocky, and at the northern end there are many large fissures in the ground, so the going is slow at times.

You'll see the escarpment up close in the middle of green forests, cross many small creeks, hike through a corn field or two, see the remains of an old mill along rapids, and climb down two ladders. You'll have to cross a couple of busy roads, and even in October the field was pretty hot, but overall well worth it.

(I've designed this page to be simple with no pictures on it so that you can print a copy and take it with you. The pictures are linked at each stage, with a camera icon and are all contained on the pictures of our hike in Speyside forest, Limehouse Conservation Area, and the Hole in the Wall page. Please send us any comments/corrections to brucetrail [at] wholemap.com Click here to return to the main page,) or grab lots of water, your hiking shoes, compass, GPS, and camera and take a hike!

Location and details of the hike:

General Location:Just north west of Milton and the 401
You can see the location of this hike with other Web sites in the same area Show this hike location along with entries from other blogs!
Bruce Trail Reference 20.0StartMap #12 Speyside
Toronto Club
 Total Bruce Trail Distance8 km there, a bit less back
(km 12.0 to km 20.0)
 Black Creek Side Trail Distance1.6 km

Directions to the starting point of the hike:

  1. Take the 401 West from Toronto, through James Snow Parkway to
  2. Highway 25 north (exit 320) past Chudleigh's Apple farm, and up the hill (you'll see the escarpment on your left).
  3. Turn right (east) at the light at the 15th Sideroad (just less than 8km from the 401) and watch for a few parking spots parallel to the road after about 0.5km - if you see open fields on either side of the road then you've gone too far east. You should see a sign for "Speyside Crown Land" and just east of that a Bruce Trail sign with two large rocks at the roadside

Hike details

I'll divide this hike into three pieces; part 1 is about 4.5km long, through the Speyside forest, part 2 is about 2km through farmers' fields, then part 3 is back into the forest for the more dramatic fissures including the 'Hole in the Wall' as well as the rapids and remains of an old mill along the Black Creek.

Part 1: Speyside forest

Leave the car, cross the road, and head north into the forest along the trail marked with the white blazes. It doesn't take long to leave the road behind, hiking along a gravel path, crossing a few brooks over metal pipes. About 15 minutes later you'll encounter the first of the side trails, one part of the 2 Speyside side trails that make a figure 8 loop with the main trail. Keep to your left along the main trail (again, marked with white blazes, NOT blue blazes).

As you continue you'll notice the ground starting to show more and more of the distinctive rock that makes up the escarpment. (pic or 2) As you continue north you'll come to a clearing with tall grass and lots of sumach. If you look around the edge of the clearing you'll notice piles and piles of stones, making a fence of sorts; back breaking work someone did years and years ago. In the middle of the clearing you'll see another section of the Speyside side trail, but we staying on the main trail until the very northern end of the hike near the Black Creek, so continue to your left (north) through the clearing and back into the woods. (For those of you with GPSes, this is about 4335'18.45"N 7958'25.60"W)

The trail gets rockier and rockier, so it is important to watch for the white blazes on the trees, as the trail becomes more difficult to follow. You may also want to stop every so often and look up and around you, there is lots to see. You'll pass a small pond of sort, climb a few small rock hills, until on your left you'll see yet another side trail -- the 17th Sideroad trail. Keep to your right along the main trail at this point.

About 10 minutes after you pass the side trail you'll arrive at a T; turn to your left along the main trail, ignoring the wider trail to your right. You'll cross a wooden bridge, then arrive at a muddy double track road of sorts. This is the intersection of the 17th Sideroad and 3rd Line closed road allowances. Turn left (west) and follow the muddy track about 5 minutes until the trail turns to the right (north) under a chain between two trees. An informational sign on your left describes the 4 distinct environments of the area (Successional Meadow, Mature Forest, Silver Maple Swamp, and Escarpment Bedrock).

You'll see a number of remarkably man-made looking stone walls where the escarpment edge has broken up through the ground. As you continue north (north east) through the forest you'll start to hear the cars on the 4th Line, and colours of the auto-wrecker to the left, and a pond to the right. Part 1 of the hike ends about an hour and forty five minutes after leaving the car, when you arrive at the 4th Line and the Dixie Truck Centre. (At about 4336'53.13"N 7958'30.45"W on the GPS)

Part 2: Farmer's Fields

Head left (east) along the road just a little bit, then head north again over a stile just across from the truck centre. Apparently there is a foundation of an old farm house in the small wooded area here, but it is really overgrown. Head north along the narrow path at the east side of a corn field. In early October there were lots of berries, apples, and of course corn. I only saw one Bruce Trail marker, but the path is quite clear.

The trail will go over another stile and turn to the right, then through a small wood lot. There were lots (and LOTS) of crows in the trees when I was there. The trail continues north through the woods for a bit, then under the power lines and turns left (west) along the back end of the corn field. You'll pass by two of the towers then the trail turns right (north) through another set of fields (along the west side of the row of trees). There was a farmer out with a sheep dog taking care of the sheep. (For a city boy like me this was quite interesting.) Part 2 of the hike ends when you get to the 5th Line and an old stone farm building. It took me about 45 minutes to walk this section.

Part 3: Limehouse Conservation Area, 'Hole in the Wall', and the remains of an old mill along the Black Creek

Cross the 5th Line and head to your left (west) a bit, then scramble up a slight rocky hill and back into the forest. Even in October I was glad to be out of the sun of the fields. After about 10 minutes you'll see the blue-blazed Black Creek side trail, but continue on the main trail to your left. We'll come back along this side trail on our way home.

As you continue north-west the ground starts to get interesting, with more and more deep moss covered fissures. It is tough NOT to explore, but stay on the path and try not to disturb the moss, ferns, and other plants growning in and around the rocks. We'll be heading down through an even bigger fissure in just a few minutes, and you'll see what happens to the plant life with so many people around. It is also interesting to notice a few distinct rock outliers which remind me of the large southern outlier in the Mono Cliffs Provincial Park.

Pass by the the short side trail to your left, which leads to the Limehouse parking lot at the baseball diamonds along the 5th Line.

Just past the side trail you will soon see why there is a warning about the 'dangerous cliffs and slopes'. There are even more deep fissures and then you'll see the first ladder down the Hole in the Wall. As you climb down the solid wood ladder it becomes a few degrees cooler. Once you are in the Hole in the Wall you have a great view of the rock walls. Take a look around, then head to the left of the ladder under a small bridge and back out into the forest, below the escarpment edge.

Enjoy the view back up then head to your right, along the old Toronto Suburban Radial Railway, across a small bridge with marsh lands to your left.

It is almost time to head back north, and soon you'll see the other end of the Black Creek side-trail, but before turning right follow the sound of the running water, along the main path, to rapids just up river from the old mill. Continue along the trail to a new looking, very solid bridge that provides a great view of the one old arch that is remaining.

The main trail continues across the bridge and up the riverbank, but it is about 2 hours back to the car, so instead retrace your steps back to the blue-blazed Black Creek side trail, and head east along the river (which will be on your left) and enjoy the views down to the river.

At the end of the side-trail you'll continue straight ahead on the main trail, heading south, following the same trail we took to get here.