Bruce Trail hike - Mono Cliffs Provincial Park


The Mono Cliffs Provincial Park offers a wide range of possibilities. There are a number of different hiking trails, including bike trails and trails for horses. There's a good map at the parking lot that details the various paths and the permitted uses for each. The hike we took takes about 3 and a half hours.

(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 Mono Cliffs Provincial Park page. Please send us any comments/corrections to brucetrail [at] Click here to return to the main page, or grab your hiking shoes, compass, GPS, and camera and take a hike! Or grab your mountain bike or favourite horse...

Location and details of the hike:

General Location:North of Orangeville near the Hockley Valley
You can see the location of Mono Cliffs Provincial park with other Web sites in the same area Show this hike location along with entries from other blogs!
Bruce Trail Reference 20.0StartMap #19 Mono Centre
Dufferin Hi-Land Section
Southern Outlier Loop
 Total Bruce Trail Distance4.1 km
(0.7 km to 4.8 km)
 Side Trail #1Southern Outlier Loop
3.6 km
 Side Trail #2Cliff Top Side Trail
3.0 km

Directions to the starting point of the hike:

This area is full of wonderful views, including Hockley Road running through the Hockley Valley. I suggest you leave some time to explore by car as well. ( If you have an older map you'll see 3 parking lots in the Mono Cliffs Provincial Park. Starting in Spring, 1999, however, these lots have been closed, and one, larger pay lot has been opened on 3rd Line E.H.S.) The drive was about one hour from the 401 and Avenue Road.

Hike details

There is a great map in the parking area with all of the hiking trails laid out. The route we took covers a fair section of them, without walking along the same trail at all. The park has its own set of path names, some of which are also on the Bruce Trail section. I'll include those names where ever appropriate.

We've done this hike twice now, once on October 11th, 1999. This was the perfect time that year to see the Fall colours. There were enough leaves left on the trees to create a wonderful show of colours, and yet there were enough leaves on the ground to create the perfect blanket (both sound wise, and again, colour wise).

The parking lot is not on the Bruce Trail itself. Take the Carriage Trail up the hill behind the map, to the west. To your right there's a dark private forest, and to your left is a field leading up to the Southern Outlier in the distance.

After about 10 minutes you'll turn left (south) on a path that will take you up to the Southern Outlier Loop. You'll hike along a wonderful wall of boulders, some as large as a phone booth. The path then makes a zig-zag climb through boulders, under the cover of trees, up to the top of the outlier. This climb can be slippery, especially after a rain. About 10 minutes after leaving the Carriage Trail you'll arrive at the blue blazed side trail.

Continue south on the path to your right. This will take you south along the western side of the loop. After about 15 minutes there are some good views to the right across the valley. At some points the drop is quite pronounced, so be sure to stay on the path and keep children in sight.

After another 15 minutes you'll arrive at the end of the loop at the Bruce Trail itself (km 1.0). Keep to the right (west). You'll past the old parking lot (km 1.2) then follow the main trail to the right (north).

We'll follow the Bruce Trail for 4.1 km north, between the escarpment and the outlier. The path is easy going for the most part, on an old cart track. It is wet at spots, and there were a lot of bugs in mid-August. After about 15 minutes you'll come upon a clearing (The Pines) with two out houses. At this point the Spillway Trail meets the main Bruce Trail.

Continue north on the main trail, past various huge boulders that have fallen off the escarpment edge. Like a lot of beautiful places along the Bruce Trail, pictures just don't do the experience justice. You'll manage to catch glimpses of the escarpment edge to your left.

About 20 minutes after passing through the clearing you'll come upon the Carriage Trail again, crossing the main Bruce Trail. Continue straight ahead on the main trail, which becomes narrower at this point. You'll cross a small creek, then head out into more open area on your right. You'll pass the southern of two lakes, surrounded by dead trees. Before long you'll arrive at the northern of the two lakes. Its hard to understand what you're looking at when you first happen upon the lake, as you come up the path with the very calm, reflective water almost at eye level. There are a few benches around the lake, and a little waterfall feeding the lake across the way.

Follow the trail away from the lake, and up the hill a bit, where it meets the Cliff-Top trail. Turn to the left and head south west, following the path as it slowly climbs up to the top of the escarpment.

After 5 minutes or so you'll see some stairs to your left (Jacob's Ladder). This is a short, dead-end path that takes you down the 30-metre high cliff face between the main rock face and some small outliers. The stairs and wooden path make it easy to see the rock without harming the many cedars and ferns that live there. Some of the small trees on the cliff edges are more than 200 years old. Here are a couple of pictures.

Return up to the top of the stairs, and continue south along the Cliff-Top trail. After about 10 minutes you'll come to a metal lookout, with a wonderful view to the north east. This is one of the best views we've found on the Bruce Trail, with very few signs of civilization. If you look down you'll see one of the lakes we passed not too long ago.

When you're ready to continue, head back to the path, then to your left (south). After just over 10 minutes you'll come to one of the closed parking lots. Follow the path to the left, through the fence.

The Cliff-Top trail continues through the trees. After about 10 minutes you'll come to the Carriage trail. We'll follow the Cliff-Top trail which turns to the right here (south). If you're ready to return to the car you can take the Carriage trail down the escarpment edge and all the way back to the parking lot.

After a short while the Cliff-Top trail leaves the trees and continues south over more open land. There are views to the east over the hills and the Southern Outlier. The path continues down hill, and after about 25 minutes reaches the escarpment edge. The trail continues across a few wooden walk ways, and then between two lakes.

We're now back to the southern end of the Bruce Trail section of this hike. Continue south, then east where the trail passes the old parking lot. Before long you'll reach the western side of the Southern Outlier Loop. Continue to your right (north-east) on the main Bruce Trail for five minutes or so, until you come upon the second Southern Outlier Loop trail (km 0.7), heading straight ahead (the main Bruce Trail turns to the right here).

You'll follow the Southern Outlier Loop north through some wonderful forests. We managed to pick the perfect autumn weekend; the colours in mid-October were wonderful along the eastern side of the outlier. The trees in sections of the forest were still relatively young, so the canopy of coloured leaves was that much closer.

After 35 minutes or so you'll arrive back at the north end of the outlier, where a path continues north, zig-zagging down the outlier edge (we hiked up this path towards the start of the hike). This path will end at the Carriage Trail. Turn right (east) and follow the path back to the parking lot.