Bruce Trail hike - Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve and Tom East Side Trail and Glen Cross Side Trail


The Hockley Valley, just north-east of Orangeville, Ontario, is a beautiful area, and right in the centre is the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve. My first visit was back on August 11th, 1999, and eleven years and one month to the day I returned just recently, on Sept 11th, 2010. The hike offers lots of rolling hills, a varied forest, and ravines with rivers and bridges.

This hike has the main Bruce Trail as its backbone, with a number of side-trails to reduce the amount of duplication.

(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 from around the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve page. Please send us any comments/corrections to brucetrail [at] Click here to return to the main page,) or grab some water, your hiking shoes, compass, GPS, and camera and take a hike!

Location and details of the hike:

General Location:Just north-east of Orangeville.
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 #19 Mono Centre
Caledon Hills section
 Total Bruce Trail Distance4.4 km
(km 76.4 to km 80.8)
 Tom East Side Trail Distance2.3 km
 Glen Cross Side Trail Distance4.0 km
 Close by:
  • Snell Loop

Directions to the starting point of the hike:

  1. Take the 401 West from Toronto to Hwy 410 north (exit 344)
  2. Continue to the end of Hwy 410 where it turns into Hwy 10 north
  3. Continue north on Hwy 10, through Orangeville
  4. Turn right on Hockley Road / County Road 7
  5. Watch for the parking lot and Hockley Valley sign on the left / north side of the road about 5 km from Hwy 10.

Hike details

There are a few side trails here, so you can choose how far you want to hike, but I'll describe:

  1. short section north on the main trail
  2. Tom East Side Trail counter clockwise
  3. section on the main trail north
  4. Glen Cross Side Trail clockwise
  5. south all the way back to the start (includes retracing our steps of part 3 and the part 1)

Stopping for a bit of lunch, and lots of pictures, this hike took me about 4 hours.

Part 1: Parking lot to the main Brucetrail and the sidetrail

Leave the the parking lot and turn to your right, west, for a short walk down the side of the road - the gravel shoulder is wide, but be careful. Watch for the trail leaving the road, up wooden steps on your left. You'll walk around a large boulder in the path, and a private house and property on your right, before entering the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve and after just a couple of minutes you'll see the southern end of the Tom East Side Trail.

Part 2: Tom East Side Trail

You'll continue straight on the blue blazed marked side trail, rather than turn left along the main trail. The trail, named after Tom East, Caledon Hills president from 1965 to 1969, climbs and then offers a view to the left across the ski hills. The sidetrail is consistent with the rest of the trails in the area, a well marked trail with a high canopy old wooden fences. At one point there are the remains of an old log cabin, complete with window frame.

There are a few switchback sets of steps down and out of small ravines, even a bench in the bottom of one ravine. I'm not sure how long this change has been in effect, but the trail through the meadow has been closed, and the parth re-routed and well marked through the forest. A reminder that much of the Bruce Trail is on private property and only exists thanks to the generous access granted by many people.

You'll cross over a fence, then notice quite a steep drop to your left as the path follows the top of a ridge - keep kids close along this section! You'll climb over one more ladder , through a meadow , then turn left and follow a small creek up the hill and over a small bridge, before connecting back to the main trail.

Part 3: North up the main trail

You're now at the north end of the side trail; turn right, north, to continue up the main trail for about 2 kms. The path once again goes down into, and out of, ravines with small rivers and 4 or 5 bridges (we lost count) and the sound of running water. One of the bridges had a long two-log high block in front of it but I'm really not sure why... to stop mountain bikers, perhaps? But there were no tire tracks, and few bikers are riding up or down those stairs... I'm curious!

At the top of one of the ravines you find the south end of the Glen Cross Side Trail on your right Continue north, on the main path. After a while you'll see the Snell Loop Side Trail on your left, then about a km after the south end of the Glen Cross Side Trail you'll see the north end of that side trail.

Part 4: South down the Glen Cross Side Trail

This is as far north as we'll get - about 2.5 kms south of a parking lot on Dunby Road. Instead, we'll turn to the right (north-east) on the Glen Cross Side Trail to head south back towards the parking lot. Follow the trail south, and the east, before it loops around west and after about 4 km meets the main trail again, where we passed by above in Part 3. Turn to your left (south) on the main trail.

Part 5: South down the main trail back to the parking lot

Head south on the main trail, towards Hockley Road. We're retracing our steps here, but in the opposite direction, until the north end of the Tom East Side Trail - keep to the right (west) on the main trail.

The path continues through the forest, then out into a small clearing with sumac and crab apple trees. On the left there is the slope heading up to the ridge we saw back towards the start of the hike. Continue along and up through the beautiful forest and past the old rusted out blue car until you get to the highest point, where there are more views over Hockly Road and the ski hills.

Finally you'll see the south end of the side trail we started with, then down to the road. Turn left to walk along the shoulder of Hockley Road, back to the parking lot.