Tobermory Motorcycle Trip | Riding the Bruce Peninsula

riding around the bruce peninsula

In this post I want to share the experience I had on my Tobermory Motorcycle Trip in June 2018.

This was the first motorcycle trip I ever took – less than 2 months after getting my motorcycle license.

After picking up some essential motorcycle touring gear, I loaded up the bike and made my north into the Bruce Peninsula.

The plan? Two nights at the Bruce Peninsula National Park in Tobermory.

It was a short, 3-day motorcycle trip but it was all I needed to find out I’m hooked on motorcycle touring.

Day 1: Hamilton to Tobermory (Bruce Peninsula National Park)


Departure was set for 6AM and I was on the road shortly before that.

It was an easy ride out of downtown Hamilton, up the Escarpment, and into the rural communities of the GTHA.

The forecast called for sun with the temperatures in the high 20s. It was the perfect day to start this Tobermory motorcycle trip.

Hamilton to Preston, Ontario

After 45-minutes it was time for the first stop. At this point I was halfway between Kitchener and Cambridge in a small town called Preston.

preston ontario downtown

I got off the bike and walked around for 15-minutes to stretch my legs. It was early and not much seemed open. After checking the straps I got back on the CBR250R and took off.

Preston to Huron County

The next stop was Goderich, one of most picturesque towns on Lake Huron.

Before getting to Goderich I took my time to explore the rural roads in Huron County. Everything out here is straight and I rode along the same rural highway for nearly 80kms.

motorcycle trip to huron county

Riding into Goderich I was surprised to find a festival going on downtown.

There were hundreds of people wandering around. The parking options were limited.

Instead of fighting the crowds I made my way to one of the scenic lookouts in Goderich. Here I relaxed for 30-minutes in the shade while enjoying the incredible view of Lake Huron.

enjoying the view of lake huron on my motorcycle trip

the goderich lighthouse overlooking lake huron

goderich salt works motorcycle view

Leaving Goderich, I followed scenic highways 21 and 13 to Wiarton.

Of course, with so many beautiful small towns along the way, there were a number of stops taken.

The first riding break was at the Point Clark Lighthouse.

motorcycle beside the point clark lighthouse

The Point Clark Lighthouse is the only lighthouse on the great lakes or Georgian Bay to be registered as a National Historic Site of Canada. Given the picturesque location I had to stop by and check it out. As you can tell from the photos, I’m glad I visited!

 the point Clark lighthouse on Lake Huron near the small town of Goderich Ontario

After spending some time at Point Clark I continued north towards the Bruce Peninsula.

Along the way I passed through a number of small Lake Huron towns such as Southampton and Sauble Beach. These towns were busy with weekend traffic and I was happy to quickly ride through.

The Southampton sign on Highway 6 North in Ontario on the way to Tobermory. I stopped to take this selfie on my motorcycle trip to the Bruce peninsula

The Bruce Peninsula

It was late afternoon by the time I reached Wiarton, home of Canada’s most famous groundhog. I stopped at the Wiarton sign to escape the heat and relax for 20 minutes.

The Wiarton sign in Wiarton Ontario with the large groundhog Wiarton Willie

Stopping at the Wiarton sign as part of my Wiarton motorcycle cruise to Tobermory

Most of the ride so far had been straight farm country roads. With Wiarton as the gateway to the Bruce Peninsula I was looking forward to the change in scenery.

The rest of the ride was a straight rip north along Highway 6. You could follow Highway 9 north from Colpoy’s Bay to Lion’s Head if you’re looking for the scenic route to Tobermory.

As I rode past Cape Chin the farmers fields began to disappear into the encroaching forest. Ponds, small lakes, rugged forest, and access roads now lined the highway.

Every so often a roadside cottage or abandoned property would come into view before the forest quickly took over.

The last part of my ride to the Bruce Peninsula National Park was the most scenic and enjoyable. Traffic was light, the sun was just starting to set, and the scenery was incredible.

There was a small off-road area before the park that I was fortunate enough to check out. Too bad I didn’t have more time or I would have spent at least an hour relaxing here.

If it weren’t for my trusty motorcycle GPS I would have missed the entrance to the park. Of course I got to get off the bike and take some photos with the park sign!

 Taking Photos with my motorcycle at the Bruce Peninsula National Park entrance sign into the campground

With the photo op complete I hopped on the bike and ripped down the road towards the park entrance.

The road into the BPNP is incredible. It’s freshly paved with all the sweepers and twisties you could ever want.

Pro-tip: Wake up early and you can have the road all to yourself!

The parking lot to check into the campground was full. Thankfully that wasn’t a problem since I could park right outside the front door with my motorcycle.

After grabbing the info for my site I cruised through the campground to find where I was spending the night.

My campsite at the Bruce Peninsula National Park was perfect. It had decent privacy and I was surprised that there was hardly anybody else camping around me.

motorcycle camping bruce peninsula

My motorcycle camping Campground at the Bruce peninsula National Park near Tobermory Ontario

Less than an hour later my campsite was set up. I emptied the bags on my bike and took a small trip into Tobermory to check it out.

There didn’t seem like going on in Tobermory. The CBR250R and I explored some of the quiet cottage roads around the national park but nothing too extensive.

stopped taking a photo of my cbr250r at the tobermory sign

With it getting dark and the chance of rain in the forecast I made my way back to the campground before it got too late.

Sunset over cypress lake at the Bruce Peninsula National Park

There wasn’t any data service in the park. With nothing to do I put my phone away and fell asleep listening to the sounds of the Bruce Peninsula around me.

Day 2: Exploring Tobermory

The alarm was set for 530AM and I was already hiking by 6.

The first stop of the day was the famous Grotto – a rock formation along the Escarpment here at the Bruce Peninsula National Park.

From my campsite the Grotto was an enjoyable 30-minute hike down an easy, gravel trail.

hiking to the grotto in tobermory

Along the way there wasn’t much in the way of picturesque scenery. The forest lined the trail until I got to the rock outcropping of the Escarpment.

Apparently there are bears in Tobermory and the Bruce Peninsula, although I never felt scared or concerned. You’re more likely to run into a black bear in Algonquin Park or closer to the Kawartha’s than here in the park.

When the trees finally opened up, giving way to Georgian Bay and the incredible Escarpment, my jaw dropped. The first glimpse of the Grotto and the scenery over the water caused me to go “wow!”. This close to 7AM there wasn’t anyone else here and I spent the next 30 minutes exploring the Grotto alone.

foggy morning at the grotto in tobermory

Despite the fog and rain the water still had it’s picture-perfect crystal blue colour. The geology nerd in me was happy seeing the huge rock outcroppings plunging deep into Georgian Bay.

In peak summer I imagine it would be quite busy here, but I’m thankful there wasn’t anyone else around.

After wandering around the Grotto and exploring the caves on the waters edge I decided to head back. The plan was to visit tomorrow for better weather and spend more time hiking along Georgian Bay.

georgian bay foggy

It was a quiet hike back to the campsite and I still didn’t see anyone. I gathered all my gear for the day, checked the bike over, and hopped on.

The first stop was the Bruce Peninsula National Park visitor centre. Recently updated, the visitor centre was impressive. Inside was heaps of information about the park, wildlife, and the Bruce Peninsula itself.

I noticed a lookout tower and asked the lady working if I could climb up for the view. She mentioned that I needed to buy a day pass for the park, despite having paid for a campsite. Thankfully, she let me head up the tower for free by promising that’s all I would do.

Even with the fog the view from the top of the lookout tower was incredible! I could only imagine how much more incredible it would be on a sunny, summer day.

view from the top of the bruce peninsula visitor centre lookout tower

While enjoying the view at the top an older couple made their way up. I spoke with them for ~20 minutes (everyone talks to you when you’re traveling solo on a motorcycle). Finally, after more than 30 minutes enjoying the view, I made my way down.

With no plan in mind I set out on my trusty Honda CBR250R. The next stop was Tobermory where I needed to fuel up before exploring the rest of the peninsula.

It was early when I arrived in Tobermory. Despite all of the paid parking signs (wtf) I parked the bike without paying.

the harbour in tobermory

There isn’t much going on in Tobermory. In less than 20 minutes I had walked around the town and explored everything I wanted to see.

The coolest part about Tobermory is that it’s the beginning, or end, Canada’s famous Bruce Trail. This is a popular trail with dozens of access points between Tobermory and Niagara Falls.

To avoid wasting any more time I jumped back on the bike and started cruising around. At this point in the day I didn’t have any particular destinations – I was only interested in riding the Bruce Peninsula.

The first place I ended up was the Big Tub Lighthouse. This wooden lighthouse was built in 1885 and played an important role guiding ships into the Tobermory harbour.

big tub lighthouse at the entrance of big tub harbour

Unfortunately, it’s not open for public visits. The Big Tub Lighthouse is one of the more popular attractions in Tobermory. It’s a perfect spot to get photos.

Not even 10 minutes later I was back on the bike cruising down Highway 6 North looking for roads to explore.

The next few hours were a blur. The afternoon was spent cruising up and down random side roads and access roads that I could spot from Highway 6. Most of them were dead ends and lined with modest cottages.

scenic roads bruce peninsula

Traffic was light and I didn’t run into any other bikers the rest of the afternoon. Some of the highlights of my cruise included the Tobermory Airport and a beautiful beach access on Dorcas Bay Road.

The roads were in great condition but missing some vital riding components. There weren’t any interesting twisties, views of the water, and not much in the way of scenery.

tobermory scenic route

random beach on dorcas road

highway 6 north lake shot

bakery highway 6 north
Escaping the rain!

For my next visit to the Bruce Peninsula i’ll put more effort into finding the best roads for cruising.

It was fast approaching dinner and I decided to head back to the campground to relax for the night.

cyprus lake campground fire

Originally, I didn’t think I would have time to get a fire going. Since I arrived back at the campground early enough I decided to start the fire.

With the fire roaring I checked over the bike before spending the next few hours watching the dancing flames.

Before falling asleep I went for two shorter walks to Cyprus Lake. It was an early bedtime since I had an early start to get back home to Hamilton the next day.

cyprus lake calm

sunset over cyprus lake

Day 3: Tobermory to Hamilton (The Long Way Home)

Waking up before the alarm meant I had some time to kill before needing to pack up.

The decision was made to hike to the Grotto again for a different perspective.

Yesterday was cloudy and humid while today was clear and sunny. I wanted to see what the Grotto looked like before heading home!

sunrise at the bruce peninsula national park

With the clear skies above the temperature was slightly cooler and less humid than yesterday making for a much more enjoyable hike. On the way to the Grotto I didn’t pass any other hikers so I had the trail to myself for the morning.

small waterfall bruce peninsula national park

snapping turtle bruce peninsula

I took every opportunity to stop, enjoy the surrounding scenery, and capture some photos. Fortunately, I made it to the Grotto before the sun rose beyond the horizon.

This gave me an incredible experience watching the sunrise over Georgian Bay – something I’ll never forget.

sunrise over georgian bay

exploring the grotto

Nearly an hour later, after exploring along the Escarpment, it was time to head back and make my way home. I quickly packed up my motorcycle camping tent, went for one more cruise through Tobermory, and started heading back down Highway 6 North.

tobermory marina where the bruce trail ends

Instead of following Highway 6 for its entirety, I turned on Highway 9 and followed it into the small town of Lion’s Head. Tobermory and the Grotto were beautiful, but Lions Head was definitely the highlight of the trip.

lions head ontario

lions head marina

lions head lighthouse

lions head beach

The views and surrounding scenery were incredible. The small town of Lion’s Head was quaint and felt like much more of a Georgian Bay destination compared to Tobermory. On my next visit I will definitely be spending more time in the area surrounding Lion’s Head.

scenic roads home

From here I followed Highway 9 South into Wiarton and continued onwards to Owen Sound. Stopping for lunch at the local Wal-Mart I met a friendly gentleman on a Harley Cruiser who rode with me on my way out of town. At some point I came across a historical plaque on Highway 6 about the old Garafraxa Road, one of Ontario’s colonization roads in the region.

waiting in traffic on motorcycle

This road eventually led me into Shelburne and Orangeville where I hopped back on to Google Maps to take the most direct route back. The scenery was great but it was generally an eventful ride home.

Where to Stay in Tobermory + The Bruce Peninsula [For Motorcycles]

cyprus lake campground fire

The options for accommodation in Tobermory and the Bruce Peninsula are plentiful for motorcycle riders.

The Bruce Peninsula National Park offers incredible camping and reasonable rates for overnight stays. Motorcycles are welcome and it’s a beautiful easily accessible campground.

Visit the Bruce Peninsula National Park website for more information on rates and booking availability.

For more comfort and amenities consider staying at a local, small hotel or bed and breakfast.

After a quick search, it’s the Blue Bay Motel that I’d recommend as the best place to stay in Tobermory for motorcyclists.

This is a family-owned and operated motel that’s steps away from downtown Tobermory. From here you can easily explore the Bruce Peninsula by motorcycle or quickly walk to the head of the Bruce Trail for some world-class hiking.

With rates starting at ~$115, this is a great place to stay if you’re not interested in camping at the National Park. Check out the Blue Bay Motel website for more information and booking availability.

 

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