Bruce Trail hike - Nottawasaga Bluffs (Best Caves and Freedom Rock)


Up to this point we spent most of our time on the Bruce Trail down around Hamilton, so we decided it was time to go farther afield. Looking through our various books, we found a number of spots around Collingwood, Ontario that sounded interesting.

(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 Nottawasaga Bluffs (Best Caves and Freedom Rock) 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!

Location and details of the hike:

General Location:South of Collingwood, just West of Devil's Glen Country Club
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 #22 Devil's Glen
Blue Mountain Section
km 18.4
 Far End of HikeMap #22 Devil's Glen
Blue Mountain Section
km 19.0
 Total Bruce Trail Distance0.6 km
 Side Trail #1Keyhole Side Trail
0.5 km
 Side Trail #2Nottawasaga Access Trail
2.5 km

Directions to the starting point of the hike:

We took the scenic route rather than Hwy 400 all the way up to Barrie. You can also take 400 North to 27/26 North to 26 West to 91 West to 24 South to Singhampton.

  1. Take Hwy 400 North
  2. At interchange 43 head west on Hwy 11 through Nobleton (Hwy 27) to Hwy 50 (Bolton)
  3. Take Hwy 50 north about 35km to where it ends at Hwy 89.
  4. Take Hwy 89 east about 24km to Hwy 24 North (just before Shelburne)
  5. Follow Hwy 24 north just over 30km to Singhampton where the road makes a 90 degree turn to the East
  6. Take the 1st right turn (South) just after the road turns to the east
  7. This is Concession 11 also called Milltown (???), there was a sign for a little store, a church store I believe.
  8. Follow this over the Mad River, then turn left (east) on 17-18 Sideroad also called Ewing (???) The turn is just before the road turns back West towards Hwy 24 (we had to do this loop a second time before we made the correct turn).
  9. Turn right (south) on Concession 10.
  10. Turn left (east) on 15-16
  11. After a short distance you'll find the parking area on your right (See this picture of the parking area. )

Hike details

Because of the weather we only took a short hike for an hour and a half. In that short time we went through the "canyons" of the Keyhole Side trail, enjoyed the view out over the valley, and read the inscriptions at Freedom Rock and in the Tomb.

The parking lot is at the north end of the Nottawasaga Access Trail. Follow the trail south, then follow the trail to the right (west) just north of the campsite.

About 20 minutes after leaving the parking area you will reach the entrance to the canyons. The footing isn't always great, so be careful, especially if it is raining, as it was the day we were there.

The Keyhole Side Trail does a short loop through the canyons; there are other trails that continue further. If you decide to explore make sure you pay attention to how you are going to return to the trail. Turn around often to see where you are coming from, and be extra careful of the plant life living on the rocks and walls.

The weather made this part of the hike wonderful. There was a slight fog in some of the canyons, and the overcast sky made the range of greens really distinct.

The side trail leaves the canyons through the Keyhole. When we first saw it we incorrectly assumed that some extra rocks had fallen, closing off the path. In fact, this is passable. You have to take off your knapsack, pass it through the hole, then wiggle yourself through. It certainly didn't look pretty, but we managed it no problem. Follow the side trail for about 7 minutes to where it ends at the main Bruce Trail.

Take the trail to the east (your left, I believe) not to the south. It will then turn to your right (south) then turn again to your left, along the escarpment edge. Here are a couple of the views from this spot.

The "Best Caves" are in this area, but due to the rain we didn't try to find them. We now have another good reason to come back here.

There is a short side trail down the escarpment edge which takes you to Freedom Rock and the Tomb. There are a number of phrases carved into Freedom Rock, many of which are hard to make out now. If you continue down the path you can find the Tomb in the side of the escarpment itself. There is a gold arrow above the entrance to a single chamber where there are two other phrases carved into the rock here:

At this point it was raining hard enough that we decided to head back to car. We headed directly north, through the little campground, back along the Nottawasaga Access Trail, to the car.