A Greenbelt for all seasons: Reflections from a guide on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula
January 31st, 2023
A recreational journey across woodlands and coastline can, in fact, be the catalyst for great change. Inspiring curiosities in both young and old, and to teach those who thought their days of learning were long at an end, is the grand endeavor upon which a guided tour is embarked. Being an EcoAdventures guide on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula has been an experience transcending everything I had expected it to be.
Not only is the Greenbelt an excellent way to explore nature, it also safeguards the vital resources that clean our air and water, reduces flood risks, and provides a home for wildlife."
Spending the days roaming the land that I love, cruising atop its cool clear waters, and sharing that land and passion with others in a responsible way is a gift to be cherished. The past summer had been busy taking both vacationers and local residents out in the eight-person Big Canoe to explore the coastline and small islands of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Taking visitors out in a canoe is one of the easiest ways to have them fall in love with the Peninsula. On a calm day, there is no better way to view the gorgeous sunsets of Lake Huron than by being out on the water. It also provides a unique vantage point for seeing some of the different kinds of wildlife. We also spent many days hiking around and crawling through the ancient sea caves of the Niagara Escarpment. Exploring the incredible collection at Greig’s Caves, formed during the melt of the last ice age, proved to be a great way to engage younger guests and help teach them about the geological history of the Ontario Greenbelt.
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula by Christopher Bird
After a quiet autumn to rest, we are quickly ramping up for our busiest season of the year: winter. Leading snowshoe tours and fat bike adventures on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula will keep us busy until the snow melts. Snowshoe tours at the Grotto are our most popular offering and begin filling up as soon as dates are made available. The massive surge in the popularity of the Bruce Peninsula National Park, and specifically the Grotto, sees a steady flow of visitors coming up from not only the Greater Toronto Area but from across Canada and the United States, as more and more people realize that winter is a great time to visit the Peninsula away from the summer crowds. The launch of our fat bike tours has also been very well received. Being able to have a guide take out new riders is very beneficial to help build confidence with riding bikes in the snow – something that was also new to me before joining the EcoAdventures team, as it is quite different from street riding. Lindsay Tract County Forest, where we primarily offer fat biking – bikes with oversized tires and a wide handlebar – has over 20 km of multi-use trails on the 8,000-acre property, making biking the perfect way to explore it.
View of Georgian Bay from the Bruce Trail by Stoke Fandango
Those of us who are lucky enough to live along the Greenbelt know the beauty of all its seasons. Not only is the Greenbelt an excellent way to explore nature, it also safeguards the vital resources that clean our air and water, reduces flood risks, and provides a home for wildlife. Greenbelt agriculture drives local economies and its protection is vital to sustaining reliable source of food close to home, all year round.
The Grotto at Bruce Peninsula Park in winter
Winter provides such a unique opportunity to explore the forests, hills, valleys and cliffs of our province and witness their serene beauty. While it can be cold and snowy, I hope you all are able to take time this winter to get outside and do whatever activity you love. The dark season in which we find ourselves this time of year can be full of fun and adventure, and it is a great time to enjoy the undeniable beauty of the Niagara Escarpment.
Stansfield grew up on the Niagara Escarpment in Burlington and has spent his adult life hiking and rafting around the world. He is a passionate environmentalist and now spends his time guiding visitors and adventurers on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula.
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