Thursday, September 5, 2013

Metcalf Crevice Side Trail

My third favourite trail along the Bruce Trail in the valley is the Metcalfe Crevice Side Trail.  This one is very short, hardly 0.5 km, but it's pretty adventurous for most people!  It goes directly through a large crevice in the Niagara Escarpment, and you have to do some rock scrambling up or down 4-6 foot rock walls to get through.

This is the crevice after you get in, with vertical rock walls on either side.  It immediately feels noticeably cooler than above, on the main trail.  This crevice is quite wide as crevices go, with lots of vegetation, which makes it look richly green.

Looking back, this is the entrance - a bit of a drop down some rocks with a toe-hold or two, but we took our 3 year old grandson through here as an adventure, and even grama made it through with a little care - mind you, she's a pretty adventurous grama.

Once you're there, it's a unique environment, with numerous ferns on the very moist vertical walls of limestone.  The trail goes through some rugged boulders, which are almost always slippery because of the high humidity, and in places you can feel the cold air blowing out from cracks in the wall.  You do need good solid hiking boots.

The most common fern is the Bulblet Fern, with its very long narrow tapering shape, and bright green colour.  It forms solid patches on the walls in places.

Here's one moisture laden rock wall, covered in moss, ferns, and liverwort.

The liverwort (on the wall in the lower centre of the previous picture) is a particularly fascinating plant, looking like green snakeskin, and thriving because of the cooler-than-normal temperatures and the high moisture levels on the limestone.

Eastern White Cedar are the most common trees above you on the escarpment, both on the vertical walls, and hanging over the rim 60-80 feet above.  This is perhaps the most photographed twisted cedar root along the entire trail!

All in all, this is a fascinating adventure, especially for kids, as long as you're careful!  It's found a concession south and then east of the hamlet of Duncan.  This is crown land, with a parking lot provided, so it's easy to find.  The outer cliff is a very popular rock-climbing mecca.  Follow the white blazes from the parking lot til you see the blue side trail sign and blazes; it circles back to the main trail below the cliff.


  1. Another beautiful hike and tour. Thanks for sharing. I wish I could see this some day.

  2. What a fascinating part of the Bruce trail! We will have to go see it some of these days. I remember seeing a similar crevasse in Lake Superior Provincial park.

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