What to expect
Hiking to see the Georgian Bay shoreline and the Grotto sea cave is a highlight for many visitors to the area. Here are some tips to be prepared to get the most of your visit to Bruce Peninsula National Park.
A hike to the Grotto and Georgian Bay shoreline begins at the P1 parking lot located in the Cyprus Lake area. The Georgian Bay Trail is the most direct route to the shoreline and is approximately 30 minutes. The beginning of the trail is rated Easy with a wide crushed gravel surface and few hills, however the shoreline of Georgian Bay is very rocky and can be challenging for children, elderly and those with mobility issues. It is necessary to pay attention to your footing and to keep children well supervised. The portion of the Bruce Trail leading to the Grotto does require some climbing over slippery rocks and tree roots.
You can choose to return using the Georgian Bay Trail or an alternate route using Marr Lake Trail or Horse Lake Trail. The entry points to these two trails are located a short distance, in either direction along the Bruce Trail, from the Grotto. Using these trails to return will allow you to experience a more natural and challenging hiking experience and you should allow up to an hour, depending on your pace, to return to your vehicle. Reservable time slot parking is in effect at P1. Be sure to check distances, times and trail names using the Visitor Guide while enjoying your hike.
- Indian Head Cove
- Flat limestone rocks and a small white boulder beach surround the tropical looking but cold blue waters.
- A great place to dip your feet in the cool waters of Georgian Bay and enjoy a snack.
- Natural Arch
- Left of Indian Head Cove as you look toward the water along the shoreline.
- The blue waters of Georgian Bay can be seen through this hole in the rock on the way to the Grotto.
- Don’t be confused – continue along the Bruce Trail to find The Grotto.
- The Grotto
- Once you arrive at the shoreline, keep left and follow the white blazes of the Bruce Trail leading towards the Grotto.
- The Grotto is a large sea cave containing a pool of water. An underwater tunnel extends from the pool inside the cave through the cliff to Georgian Bay. This often makes it appear as though the pool is glowing on sunny days.
- There are two options to descend into the Grotto:
- The chimney is a small rocky tunnel that allows you to cork screw your way down to the Grotto opening. Those with mobility issues and children should use extreme caution. Take your time and maintain 3 points of contact while descending. Be aware of others coming up.
- The other option is to climb down the 12 meter (40 ft) open cliff face. Know your limits. Once again, those with mobility issues and children should use extreme caution and know their limits. The cliff face includes a series of shelves and rocks that you can climb down. Typically, this route results in wet feet.
- Either option is suitable for exiting and climbing back out.
Map of Cyprus Lake Campground and trails to Grotto
- Washroom facilities are located at the Head of Trails, Indian Head Cove and the Grotto. Please do not use the surrounding forest as a toilet.
- Pack out what you pack in, there is no garbage collection along the trails. The last garbage can is located in the Head of Trails.
- The Head of Trails parking lot has a reservable timed parking system.
- Consumption of alcohol is not allowed.
- No fires are permitted at the shoreline
- Make sure you are prepared for hiking in the wilderness of a national park.
- Cliff jumping is dangerous and has resulted in serious injury and loss of life. This location is remote and rescues require additional time and resources.
- This shoreline portion of the Bruce Trail is rated as Difficult. Please wear proper footwear and take your time. The shoreline trail is not recommended for inexperienced hikers or those with mobility issues.
- All barbecues are prohibited along the shoreline and trails.
- This area is very popular and may seem crowded. Walking 5-10 minutes in either direction from Indian Head cove will bring you to more tranquil and private locations.
- The water at Indian Head Cove and the Grotto is very cold and wave conditions are often rough. Even when waves look swimmable, undertows and currents can present drowning hazards. Learn more about water safety.