Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Road Trip to the Bruce Peninsula

Ah, the day and the hour is near for my departure to the world famous and renowned Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada.  The Bruce, as it's commonly known to locals, is a peninsula that lies between the Georgian Bay and the main basin of Lake Huron.  Only a few hours north of Toronto, the Bruce is part of the geologically significant Niagara Escarpment; a long line of limestone bedrock laid down during the Silurian age well over 400 million years ago.  On this spit of limestone is one of the most diverse and fascinating areas of southern Ontario.  Rugged and precipitous limestone cliffs, rare flora and fauna and just an overwhelming sense of adventure and wilderness has called me to the Bruce for some time now and I have finally gotten the chance to spend a week in this magical slice of heaven.

As a botanist, I am naturally most interested in the endless list of rare and incredible plants that can be found blooming during June on the Bruce Peninsula.  Known most for it's wild orchids, the Bruce has an astonishing 44 species indigenous to its small area.  June is the peak time for this and on my list is over 20 species of orchid I will be searching out.  The Ram's Head Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium arietinum), Calypso (Calypso bulbosa), Hooker's Orchid (Platanthera hookeri) and the Tall White Bog Orchid (Platanthera dilatata) are just a taste of what I hope to experience!  Also globally rare and found in this botanical wonderland is the Lakeside Daisy (Hymenoxys herbacea), Dwarf Lake Iris (Iris lacustris) and Hart's Tongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium).

Planned route to the Bruce.  Courtesy Google Maps

I have decided to take two days to get to the Bruce.  I plan on leaving early Tuesday (June 14) and arriving on the peninsula sometime Wednesday afternoon.  The fun doesn't start when I get to my overall destination though!  As I make my way through northeastern Ohio I plan on making several pit stops along the way at various bog and fens complexes to check out what is blooming right now.  Mid-June is one of the best times for these rare ecosystems boreal plant species to be in full swing.  I've decided to hit some of the best sites for special species of orchids and other plants currently in bloom.  Kent Bog, Karlo Fen, Gott Fen and Mantua Bog (where the endangered and exceedingly rare Dragon's-mouth Orchid, Arethusa bulbosa should be in bloom) are among my stops on day one.  The plan is to stop in the Buffalo, New York area for the night before crossing over into Canada at Niagara Falls.  Oddly enough, I've been to many great natural areas and places in North America but have yet to see Niagara Falls so I figured "when in Rome"!

Day two takes me to the falls and across the border into Ontario where I will continue north to my destination of the Bruce Peninsula!  There I will spend the better part of a week exploring Flowerpot and Cove Islands, combing the deep and ancient coniferous forests, bogs and fens and gawking at the scenic vista views of Lake Huron from the tall limestone cliffs and shorelines.  I will do my best to do a couple blog posts as time allows while up there to give you a taste of what I'm experiencing!  Hopefully the weather, Mother Nature and luck is with me and I will be rewarded with many great experiences and stories upon my return.  This may be the first trip up to the Bruce but I can already tell this won't be my last!  Stay Tuned!

Here's a link to my custom Google Maps page about my trip and the stops I plan on taking along the way.  *The map loads zoomed in to an area that has no relevance to my trip so be sure to zoom out and you will see the blue line and place markers signaling my route and trip stops!


  1. I went to the Bruce a few years ago. It's a lovely place but there was no time to botanize on that trip. I'll look forward to reading about your adventures and the goodies that you find there!

  2. I just can't wait to see what you found!

  3. I envy you your trips, though I shouldn't. WE get to go on quite a few, too. It's just that I've not seen the orchids in that part of the world.

  4. Hi A.L.,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about the Bruce Peninsula to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon!