Follow along on my Bruce Trail hikes! I’m slowly hiking this entire trail – all 900km of it. It runs from north to south, right across southern Ontario, Canada.
I really wanted to go hiking on Thanksgiving weekend (that’s in October in Canada!). The only problem was that everyone was pretty busy. Justin was working, my sister was with her boyfriend’s family for the holiday, and my friends were either working or had family gatherings. I was determined to go hiking that day. After all, it was a gorgeous fall day and the leaves had just started to change color. I wasn’t sure when I’d get out for another hike this season, and it’s really my favorite time of year for spending time on the trails. I didn’t want to let this opportunity pass by.
I decided to hike alone, even though I was a little scared.
FEARS OF HIKING ALONE
As a solo female hiker, I had some legitimate fears of hiking alone. I’m not sure if I’ve watched too many episodes of Dateline, but I was scared that someone could attack me in the forest. Adding insult to injury, Justin mentioned that people like to dress up as clowns to frighten people in random places. Great. Now, I didn’t only have to worry about getting assaulted, but had the additional fear of being stalked by a clown.
I was also worried that I might injure myself. Though I’m physically active, I can be clumsy at times. Do you remember that time that I slipped and fell on a muddy path in the forest? Yeah, that happened. Though I didn’t get hurt, there’s always the fear that I could twist an ankle or hurt myself.
Though it’s not too much of a concern in the St. Catharines region, I could potentially run into some wildlife. In the northern sections of the Bruce Trail, finding bears on the hiking trail is a concern.
I’m a member of the Bruce Trail Facebook group, and I asked them for help. I wanted to know if others felt it was safe to hike alone, and if any other women hiked the Bruce Trail by themselves. Thankfully, I was met with an outpouring of support. Many women regularly hike there by themselves or walk their dogs. Some hikers never see another person on the trails at all while they’re out there. There’s even a woman recently who hiked the entire trail by herself in one go, from end to end.
I also had women asking if I wanted a hiking buddy. These groups are great for meeting friends and those with similar interests. I met travel blogging buddies Stephanie and Lindsay through Facebook groups, and we love hiking together!
PICKING UP WHERE I LEFT OFF
At the end of my last Bruce Trail Hike, I stopped at the entrance to Short Hills Provincial Park. This was where I started my seventh Bruce Trail hike. I like to start and stop where it’s easy to park my car. There was a small parking lot at the entrance here on Wiley Road, just before kilometer 36 on Bruce Trail Map 3 (from the Bruce Trail hiking guide book).
For those wondering how I hike the Bruce Trail, I park my car where I left off the last time. I end up hiking the trail twice because I have to hike on the same stretch back to the car. It isn’t an ideal situation because it does take a lot longer to complete the entire trail, end to end. However, I love hiking and I don’t mind hiking there and back each time.
If you don’t feel like trekking back and forth, you can walk with a buddy and bring two cars. Park your cars at either side of the trail section. You can also consider calling an Uber to take you back to your car, though the availability might be limited to certain areas. If you’ve never used Uber before, you can use my sign up code: laureny838ue to get a free ride!
HIKING BY MYSELF
So, how was my experience?
It was fantastic!
I loved the solitude of hiking alone. Usually, I’m pretty chatty if I’m with friends or family. This time, I looked around at the beautiful scenery without saying a word. I caught glimpses of small squirrels and chipmunks in the silence. The leaves rustled in the breeze. Tall trees creaked back and forth. I gained a new appreciation for the Bruce Trail when hiking by myself. The only time I spoke was to say hello to fellow hikers that passed by.
As it was Thanksgiving Sunday, the trail was a little more popular than usual. Even still, I only saw a few families, couples, and dog walkers in Short Hills Provincial Park. For the most part, I was alone and I didn’t feel afraid. It was actually very liberating.
RIM OF AFRICA FRIENDSHIP TRAIL
In Short Hills Provincial Park, a section of the Bruce Trail has been dubbed, the Rim of Africa Friendship Trail. This trail was twinned with the Rim of Africa trail back in 2014. From the Bruce Trail website:
The Rim of Africa is a unique mountain trail and conservation initiative at the southern edge of Africa in the Cape Mountains. These mountains form the core of the Cape Floristic Region, the smallest of the six recognized floral kingdoms of the world. They are home to more than 9 000 plant species, the greatest non-tropical concentration of higher plant species in the world.
The entire Rim of Africa trail takes 52 days to complete, and ranges from easier terrain to more difficult mountain hiking. It fueled my wanderlust to travel back to Africa as I’d love to discover the Rim of Africa trail in person. As I hiked the Rim of Africa Friendship Trail on my Bruce Trail hike, I thought about what it would be like to hike the Cape Mountains.
FALL COLORS IN OCTOBER
October is the best time to go hiking in southern Ontario, Canada. It isn’t too hot and it isn’t too cold. I wore a t-shirt, bringing a sweater just in case it got chillier. In the summer, it can be unbearably hot to do anything outside, except maybe swimming. Plus, the main advantage is to enjoy the fall colors. During the second weekend in October, the leaves had started to turn vibrant shades of red, yellow, and orange. There were still lots of green leaves on the trees. In the most southern parts of Ontario, like where I was hiking near St. Catharines, it might be worth waiting until even the third weekend of October for the best fall colors. As you travel more north in Ontario, you could miss out on the best colors if you waited that long.
The sun was shining and the trees looked gorgeous. Here are some of my favorite photos from my Bruce Trail hike.
Here’s the section of trail that I hiked on the Bruce Trail guide map (Map 03):
TIPS FOR HIKING ALONE
Here are some great tips for hiking alone, especially as a solo female hiker:
- Tell a loved one where you are going and what time you should return
- It’s good to keep in touch with loved ones when you have cell service
- Be sensible – don’t go wandering too far off the path
- Bring a map when you can so you don’t get lost, and follow the trail markers
- Wear appropriate shoes and clothing for your hike (sturdy hiking shoe are always a good idea)
- Carry a bear bell on your bag in areas with bears to keep them away
- Bring lots of water and snacks for your hiking trip
- Consider bringing a small first aid kit, flashlight, and rain poncho
If you don’t want to travel alone and don’t have a hiking buddy, consider joining an organized hike! The Bruce Trail clubs organize trips weekly. Check out brucetrail.org for more details.
To see all the photos from this hike, please visit my Bruce Trail Hike #7 travel photography album. Not only can you view my photographs, but you can also order prints, canvas wall hangings, and housewares made from these photos! It’s the perfect gift for that travel lover in your life!
PROGRESS OF MY BRUCE TRAIL JOURNEY
|Date||October 9, 2016|
|Location||Map 03, Thorold|
|Distance||5km (x2 = 10km)|
|Total Trail Distance||40 km (854km remaining)|
|Start||35.0 Short Hills Provincial Park parking lot|
|Finish||40.0 Short Hills Provincial Park|
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Do you go hiking alone? Do you have any great tips?