Grey Bruce Fall Driving Tour
Grey Bruce Driving Tour
By Roberta Avery
A new fall driving tour of Grey and Bruce Counties explores the back roads to awe-inspiring, hidden viewpoints overlooking the area's stunning scenery as it takes on its mantle of glorious autumn colour.
The tour begins at the northeast end of Grey County at Swiss Meadows off Scenic Caves Road, where there is an amazing viewpoint right at the small parking area at the end of Maple Lane. Here you get a bird's eye view of the slopes of Blue Mountain Ski Resort and beautiful patchwork of fields below as they take on lustrous red and gold hues set against a back drop of the shimmering waters of Georgian Bay.
The next stop on the route is the hamlet of Ravenna, where the Country Market serves up a tempting array of home baked goodies. It's a good idea to stock up now as this tour will take you to some amazing places where you will want to linger a while and perhaps eat a delicious treat, while enjoying the viewpoints.
From Ravenna head to Georgian Hills Vineyards at Victoria Corners. Call ahead to arrange a “Perfect Pairings” and you will be able to enjoy four wines paired with local cheeses, pate and a treat of smoked trout on the patio overlooking the vineyard and the surrounding hills. On Saturdays, owner Robert Ketchin usually conducts the Perfect Pairings and will share his incredible knowledge about growing grapes in northern climes.
A fall tour of Grey County would not be complete without at a stop at the Beaver Valley and the village of Kimberley under the majestic Old Baldy rock formation on top of the Niagara Escarpment. From the Beaver Valley Outlook, there are fabulous views of the valley.
You will get the first glimpse of Meaford's Irish Mountain, the next stop, from the curiously named Scotch Mountain. The reason it was named after the Scottish alcoholic beverage and not the Scottish pioneers, who settled the area, has been lost in the mists of time. Perhaps the stunning location with views of Georgian Bay made early mapmakers feel heady just as if they had imbibed a nip or two.
The reason that the small park complete with a covered picnic area is called Irish Mountain is easier to determine as ruins of an Irish Protestant Orange Lodge still stood on Irish Mountain until the 1980s.
Many say the panoramic view overlooking Georgian Bay set against majestic Blue Mountain is one of the best anywhere at any time of the year. However, it is extra special in the fall when Meaford's apple country takes on a blaze of glory.
Next, the route explores the Bruce Peninsula. Although famous for its ancient Eastern White Cedar, the Bruce Peninsula also has magnificent groves of deciduous trees, which take on a cloak of vivid autumn colour.
The Bruce Peninsula is a key area for both plant and animal wildlife and is Part of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve.
To view some of the best fall colours on the Bruce, our route heads to Cape Croker - the Neyaashiinigmiing Indian Reserve 27. As you enter the reserve, the road winds in a broad arc affording panoramic views of majestic cliffs alive with vibrant fall colours.
One of the best-kept secrets of the Bruce Peninsula is the Baywatch Parkette, it's proudly kept clean by the local First Nations people - Anishinabe (Ojibwe) - who know that this is a special place. There are picnic tables overlooking the sparkling waters of Sydney Bay against a dramatic cliff face full of hardwood trees that take on a riot of brilliant colour every fall.
The next and final stop is Rankin Bridge Road. There isn't an actual lookout here, but you are sure to be wowed by the canopy of vibrant colour that almost forms a tunnel across the road. It's possible to park just before the bridge and take a stroll across the bridge to see the river which is flanked on either side by trees wearing their glorious colours of fall.
After enjoying the views of the pristine bays that make up larger Georgian Bay, you may want to try a sampling of local whitefish and one of the best places to buy fresh local fish is at Howell's in Wiarton. Howell’s is a legend in these parts as generations of the same family have been selling fish on the peninsula for decades. You can also buy fish from Howells' booth at the Owen Sound Farmers' Market on Saturdays.
These are just a few of Grey and Bruce Counties' amazing hidden gems, but there is so much more, including festivals such as Meaford Apple Harvest Craft Show and Port Elgin's Pumpkinfest, both on the October 1 and 2 weekend and self-guided studio tours including the Autumn Leaves Tour from September 30 to October 2 and the Escarpment Tour on October 8 and 9 (Thanksgiving weekend).
The trip begins at the small parking area along Swiss Meadows Blvd. Heading west on Scenic Caves Road, turn right onto Swiss Meadows Blvd and then turn right on Maple Lane and go to end of road, you will see a lovely view of the Nottawasaga bay.
To get to Ravenna, get back onto Scenic Caves road and head west, it then becomes Sideroad 15 before reaching Ravenna. Turn right at the stop sign at Ravenna and head north on Grey Road 2 towards Victoria Corners and Georgian Hills Vineyard – the vineyard is on the left.
From Victoria Corners, head west on Sideroad 21 to Grey Road 13, go south through the village of Kimberley, as 13 winds its way out of the village, pull into the Beaver Valley Lookout on your right.
The journey now returns north on Grey Road 13 before forking left onto Grey Road 7. Continue north to Grey Road 40 and then head west to Grey Road 12. Go north on Grey Road 12. Where Grey Road 12 forks to the right, continue on Grey Road 112, cross Highway 26 and head north toward Land Force Central Training Area – Meaford's military base. You will climb a steep hill before turning left into Sideroad 25, the lookout is on the left.
Now head back south on Grey Road 112 to Highway 26. Turn right onto Highway 26 and follow it through Owen Sound. **please note that there is currently construction along Highway 26, as well as in downtown Owen Sound. To bypass Owen Sound you can turn left onto Grey County Road 11, then right onto Grey County Road 18, follow it as it makes a right hand turn, heading north towards Springmount, and this will put you back on track.**
After you are through Owen Sound, follow Highway 6 north towards Wiarton. For a more scenic route, you can opt to take Grey County Road 1 along the shores of Georgian Bay for some great views.
For some great local fish, stop at Howells' Fish in scenic town of Wiarton, turn onto William Street and follow the signs to Howells Fish at 153 Division Street, Wiarton.
After you have travelled through Wiarton, head east on Bruce County 9 passing through the hamlet of Colpoys Bay. From Colpoys Bay, turn east onto Waugh's Road and then east onto McIver Road, slow down as road arcs to see the fabulous views.
Next is Baywatch Parkette – After about two kilometres more on McIver Road , you will see this "Roadside Park" on your left.
Turning around and heading back south along Bruce Road 9 to the Mar side road and head west to other side of the peninsula joining Red Bay Road at Mar. Then head south on Huron Road, which becomes the Sauble Falls Parkway. Just before Sauble Falls, turn left onto Rankin Bridge Road. This concludes the Fall Driving Tour of Grey Bruce. From here you can turn around and head back to Highway 6 or whichever direction takes you home.