There are a variety of styles of accommodation close to the trail. Camping along the Bruce Trail is considered trespassing if not at an overnight rest area and could damage the Conservancy’s relationships with landowners and the environment. There will be spots for you to stay if you are willing to be flexible.
Access your Network
When we conceived of our end-to-end hike, we were doing so to raise money for a campership fund for Camp Kintail. We planned that people could come out and hike with us for a day, give us places to sleep each night, follow along online, and support our cause financially. The turnout was outstanding! Indeed, we never wanted for anything as we travelled across Ontario. By accessing our informal network of community connections, we realized that many of the major population centres along the trail had people who could host us for an evening. We stayed in spare bedrooms, on air mattresses and even one night in another summer camp willing to host us. We had support from over 20 different families! Also, relying on this network allowed us to better engage with the community we raised money for.
I do not believe relying on a personal network will work for everyone. But asking for help from your friends, family, and community members may help make your end-to-end easier to complete.
A quick note for community and club members: hosting the odd hiker on your lawn or spare bedroom might become a business opportunity. Of course, take this suggestion entirely under your preference, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a healthy and respectful hiking culture.
Overnight Rest Areas (ORA)
An ORA (Overnight Rest area) is an on-trail designated camping space listed by the landowner. An ORA is not a “destination campsite.” Instead, it’s a stopover that people can use to stitch together two days of hiking without travelling off the trail. These sites are uncommon and are primitive campsites. Treat all water, pack out all garbage, and correctly dispose of all human waste. There may or may not be a backcountry “Thunderbox,” and there certainly will not be a consistent supply of toilet paper. Before setting out, pack your trowel toilet paper and follow Leave no Trace practices when disposing of human waste.
Currently, there are no ORA sites within the Beaver Valley Section of the Bruce Trail.
Host Based Accommodations
A freshly made bed is beautiful after sleeping on the ground and in your sleeping bag. I have listed any hotel or bed and breakfast under this category. When looking to find a location, make sure that you consider the distance from the trail in your travel calculations. If you intend on walking from the trail to this residence, please make sure that you look into what roads you will need to be walking down and change plans if necessary if they are unsafe. Some smaller establishments may offer rides with their accommodations to hikers staying the night with them. Be sure to reach out to these hosts first before committing to walking. Several organizations support the Bruce trail and can cater to hikers. This link will send you to their pages. Explore the trail | Bruce Trail Conservancy
It’s true, staying in a campground still places you in your tent. But staying in a campground can be fun too. Boldly pitch your two-person backpacking tent next to the camper trailer to show your sufficiency. You made it here on foot! Several non-affiliated campsites, especially in the northern sections of the Bruce Trail, have sites available for guests to use. Many places are within a ten-minute drive or are directly on the trail. This document refers to all the camping spaces found along the Bruce Trail. A word of warning, though, this list is not fixed or fully encompassing. Please give a little time to your research to decide where you plan on staying. Explore the trail | Bruce Trail Conservancy
Bruce Penninsula National Park
The northernmost point of the Bruce Trail ends past the Bruce Peninsula National Park. In a word, it gets busy! As the trail turns towards the coast, about 5 km from any road, this part of the trail becomes true backcountry. It can be constraining to finish the trail if you are limited by time or km. If you are willing to carry the big pack, it is worth it to stay the night at one of the park’s two backcountry sites: Stormhaven and Highdump. These sites are by reservation only! If you have the gear for it, going in the fall or early spring months may make it easier to reserve places. If you are not interested in backpacking, you can still do this section by getting dropped off at Crane Lake Road or through Emmett Lake/Halfway log dump for a few there-and-back hikes.
Aaron “Talus” Holden