Georgian Bay Sea Kayak Route
Dunk's Bay to Dyer’s Bay
How to Get To Dunk’s Bay by Land
Coming from Tobermory, drive 1.5 kilometers south on Highway #6, turn left onto Dunk’s Bay Road and drive 1 kilometer to the parking lot near the beach at Dunk’s Bay.
Coming from the south watch for the large Tobermory Welcome’s You sign with the rock flowerpot next to it. Shortly after the sign, turn right on Dunk’s Bay Road, and drive 1 kilometer to the parking lot at Dunk’s Bay. There is a public bathroom available on the right side of the parking lot as well as a nearby garbage bin.
Leaving Dunk’s Bay heading south, you will walk down an old dirt road behind the cemetery, which curves to follow the shoreline south then ends and continues into the bush. Note that it is very important to stay on the Bruce Trail, since much of the land is privately owned. The trail follows the rocky shoreline for awhile (which is very slippery when wet) before jetting inland to a small parking lot, which is part of the snowmobile trail. Next, follow a survey cut that runs parallel with the roadway and takes you to Little Cove parking lot where garbage facilities have been placed. The distance from Dunk’s Bay to Little Cove parking lot is 3.4 kilometers, and the average hiking time for this section is about an hour and a half. From the parking lot the trail turns towards Little Cove, utilizing the roadway, sending you down a large gravel hill prior to emerging out on the cobblestone beach.
At this point the trail becomes quite rugged as you hike along the bottom side of the escarpment. Climbing over large weathered limestone rock walls and boulders is a challenge, but often very rewarding when you crest the top for a view out over the bay. Be sure to wear good sturdy hiking shoes in this section.
Continue down the rocky shoreline to Dufferin Point, which got its name from the Lady Dufferin, a ship that ran aground in the fog. Here, you will turn south toward a very steep ascent as the trail follows the top of the escarpment, allowing you to witness some amazing viewpoints. Next, you will turn east to follow the contour of Driftwood Cove. Take some time to admire the beautiful house overlooking Driftwood Cove, which is located at the center of the bay. The trail continues east into the bush where you have the option of taking a side trail to view a sinkhole, or continuing down the trail. We recommend taking the side trail to observe the sinkhole, an interesting formation.
From the main trail, you will turn southeast and cross a private gravel road, which winds down gradually from the top of the escarpment. Along the way, you will tour through thick pine forest, into field areas, and even through re-growth forests that provide you with an excellent wildlife viewing opportunity. The trail soon comes back out onto the shoreline to a cobblestone beach known as Cooney's Dump.
Cooney's Dump was once used to harbour logs before ships towed them away to local sawmills. This beach is an excellent spot to refill your water bottles (using a filter, of course) before continuing on down the trail. After crossing the cobblestone beach and entering into a heavy forested area, you will hike southward before emerging on the north shore of Loon Lake. The trail follows the Loon Lake shoreline before merging back to the Georgian Bay shoreline on a small section of boulder beach. After crossing the beach, enter back into the bush and travel for about 1 kilometer before arriving at Overhanging Point.
Overhanging Point is an excellent spot to stop for a break, perched high upon the cliff top for a flawless bird's eye view. At this point you will descend quite rapidly back to the Georgian Bay shoreline. This section of rock beach separates Marr Lake from Georgian Bay. If you look down you will likely see water flowing between the rocks beneath you. Here, the Bruce Trail merges with Bruce Peninsula National Parks Trail systems, giving you the option of continuing along the Bruce Trail or exploring the National Park starting with Marr Lake Trail. Continuing down the Bruce Trail you will come across a large cave in the shoreline, known as the Grotto.
The Grotto was formed millions of years ago by natural erosion processes, waves beating against the shoreline. Climbing carefully down into the Grotto is a great way to further explore it, providing you with a better understanding of what caused this natural process. Parks Canada has built public composting toilets and garbage facilities here for your convenience.
Leaving the Grotto you will pass a small beach, a favorite spot to swim for many. Next, you will follow the shoreline which ascends gradually along the cliff’s edge before cutting across Halfway Rock Point. Camping is available here provided that you reserve your site in advance at the Cyprus Lake Campground Office. Alternatively, you can camp within Bruce Peninsula National Park. The trail heads back out to the Georgian Bay shoreline, passing by an interpretive display on the north end of the beach. Continuing down the beach for approximately 200 meters, you will walk along an old logging road that takes you back into the bush. The trail then turns left, passing by the side trail that leads you to campsites at Storm Haven, which are also available by booking at the Cypress Lake Office. The trail continues down the escarpment offering many scenic lookout points before heading east through the forest. Continuing east, you will emerge onto a limestone shelf called Cave Point. The trail continues east, clinging to the edge of the escarpment.
The next section is very challenging, so please be prepared!
The trail does many ups and downs leading you to the shoreline at Halfway Dump, another historical log harbouring area. This is an excellent spot to refill water bottles since the next seven kilometers of the trail are on top of the cliff. The side trail at Halfway Dump leads you to the Emmett Lake Parking Lot where there are composting toilets and garbage facilities. Continuing on the Bruce Trail, an old logging road leads you to the top of the escarpment then takes you towards High Dump. Here, the main trail meets a side trail that travels down to the shoreline to High Dump’s nine backcountry campsites. The main trail starts heading inland at this point on old logging roads, taking you alongside of Upper Andrew Lake and then Moore Lake. Be careful not to get on one of the old logging roads that intersect this section of the trail, since these are unmarked and can lead you into the forest. Next, the trail emerges onto an old gravel road, which will lead you to a gate that marks the National Park Boundaries.
At the parking lot, proceed down the gravel road passing by agricultural fields and marshes before turning left onto Gillies Lake Road. Follow this road for approximately 4 kilometers before turning right onto Harkins Road. From there you will continue to the escarpment’s edge leading to Dyer’s Bay Road. Stay on the road when you crest the hill just beyond the boat launch (Approximately 300 meters). This is the Dyer’s Bay parking area, which provides enough space for three vehicles. There are no garbage receptacles available at this point so be sure to pack out your litter.
Leaving the beautiful sand beach at the Dunk’s Bay public beach, heading southeast along the escarpment, you will notice the change from a sandy beach to the sheer limestone rock faces that this area is most noted for. Following the contours of the shoreline you will round the point and pass a quaint little house nestled on the shoreline. Avoid landing here, since some rare bird species have been known to nest in this area. After turning the next point, the shoreline veers westward into a natural harbor known as Little Cove. The white cobble stone beach is yet another change from the rocky escarpment we are used to seeing.
Crossing the Little Cove inlet, the shoreline continues southeast in the usual rugged format. About a kilometer south of Little Cove you will notice mooring buoys to the left, which mark the artificial reef created by The Niagara 2, which was purposely sunk for use a diving attraction. A little further south nearing Dufferin Point you might see some remains of the Lady Dufferin shipwreck, but most of the wreck lies in over 250 feet of water. The cliffs adjacent to you gradually get larger as you paddle past the boulders beneath the old growth eastern white cedar trees at Dufferin Point.
Turning westward again into Driftwood Cove you’ll notice a large stone house and another shipwreck mooring buoy. The house - along with a substantial amount of land - is a private estate. The mooring buoy marks the final resting spot for the Carolina Rosa wreck which was once a floating restaurant. Continuing southeast down the shoreline you will pass a section of a limestone rock cliff that drops straight down into the water. This rock wall is home to orange lichens that take many years to grow in such a harsh environment.
Following these impressive rock walls you will soon arrive at another cobblestone beach know as Cooney’s Dump, a historical log harbour. Old sunken logs can still be viewed in the clear water nearby. After passing another boulder beach, you will observe the large overhanging point marking the entrance to Indian Head Cove.
Indian Head Cove is a great spot to stop for a break since the cobblestone beach allows for easy shore landings. There are composting toilets and garbage facilities at this location and exploring the Grotto gives you a good chance to stretch your legs. Continuing southeast around Halfway Rock Point, you will see little other than the rugged escarpment for miles, offering a chance to appreciate the silence of an undeveloped shoreline. Credit should be given to Parks Canada for keeping this area in such pristine condition.
Just a short distance further is an area called Storm Haven, one of two camping areas located along the shoreline between Dunk's Bay and Dyer's Bay. Storm Haven is 13.5 kilometers from Dunk's Bay (approximately four hours and thirty minutes to paddle). There are eight tent platforms available by registering with Bruce Peninsula National Park, but there is no group camping permitted. Also available are animal-proof food storage containers, garbage bins, and composting toilets. There are no campfires permitted here so be sure to bring a portable stove and fuel.
If you prefer to continue down the shoreline a little further, there are campsites at High Dump, about six and a half kilometers away. The journey to High Dump takes you alongside some of the most impressive rock cliffs in the area, dropping sharply into the water at times. With the magnificent clarity of Georgian Bay you can see the large rocks that were once at the top of these cliff faces. There are nine wilderness campsites at High Dump along with composting toilets, animal-proof food storage, and an emergency shelter. Campfires are not permitted so personal stoves must be used. Registration must be done in advance. It would be wise to camp here since the next closest campsites are roughly 40 kilometers southeast.
Leaving High Dump towards Dyer's Bay there is a large point of about ten kilometers called Cabot Head that you will paddle beside. The shoreline is very steep and provides few locations for boat landing, so take advantage of any available opportunities to stop and rest. As you near Cabot Head, you will see a lighthouse and an opening to a small bay called Windfield Basin. This makes for an interesting detour for those interested in exploring the nearby lighthouse. Once inside this protected little harbor, have a close look at the old shipwreck that emerges from the water. This old tug caught fire while anchored here and sank to the waterline. Much of the ship’s mechanical equipment can still be observed.
After leaving Cabot Head and rounding the point, the shoreline turns to travel southwestwardly, gradually taking you into Dyer's Bay. At this point you will start to see houses, cottages, and gravel roads. If you pay close attention you will see the old log flume spraying out onto the white rock shoreline through two large culverts. This flume used to move logs from Gillies Lake high up on the escarpment down to the Georgian Bay shoreline. Rumor has it that logs would speed down here with so much force that some would be found driven into the rocky shoreline standing straight on end. Follow the shoreline until you come to the large government dock at the Dyer's Bay boat launch, where you may choose to pull your kayak out.< Tobermory Harbour to Dunks Bay > Dyer’s Bay to Lion’s Head