The Niagara Escarpment winds its way through the valleys and rural settings of Grey County, offering great climbs with unforgettable panoramic views of Georgian Bay. Beneath that view, the limestone rock formations offer many crevices and caves to explore. With pitches of varying heights and challenging, multilayered formations, Grey County is a rock climbing mecca.
Whether you’re experiencing the sport for the first time or you’re looking for an expert route to test your skills, there’s a climb here for you. And Grey’s unique geologic formations continue underground. The area serves up some exceptional caving, offering open, accessible caves for beginners and deeper, narrower chasms for those interested in guided caving excursions.
If you’re new to the climbing and caving world, hiring a guide is a great option. With a wealth of climbing-friendly terrain, Grey County has several great guides and outfitters nearby. Having someone confident and knowledgeable running your rope is crucial. With the right equipment (climbing shoes are a huge help!) and the right knowledge, climbing can be both challenging and safe. If you decide to explore some of the more accessible caves yourself, be sure to bring a headlamp and wear sturdy footwear and a helmet. Hiring a guide for caving is also a great option.
Rules of the rock
The Ontario Access Coalition (OAC) is a volunteer, not-for-profit group that works with the climbing community, landowners, conservation authorities and property managers to keep climbing & bouldering areas open in an environmentally responsible manner. As with any outdoor excursion, stay on the trails, respect the environment and obey postings about usage and land agreements.
Where to climb and cave
For guided or solo venture climbing and caving experiences, check out the following locations.
Metcalfe Rock, The Beaver Valley
Metcalfe Rock is the unofficial centre of the action with climbing heights ranging from 20 feet to 80 feet and the rock face running 500 feet in length. There are also offering three caves to explore. Three separate outfitters operate their rock climbing businesses on the escarpment's unique limestone surface: Free Spirit Tours, who also offer caving expeditions, On the Rocks and Adventure Upwards. All are highly-certified outfitters providing instructional lessons, equipment and lots of encouragement.
Old Baldy, The Beaver Valley
Old Baldy, in the Beaver Valley is a 152-metre drop off the Niagara Escarpment that allows climbing for the experienced with a permit. The property is managed by Grey Sauble Conservation Authority and permits can be purchased for $30 by calling them or downloading the permit application on the GSCA website. The outcropping is located off Grey Road 13, with a small service road entrance that leads you atop the escarpment.
Bruce’s Caves, Wiarton
Located along Georgian Bay and not far from Wiarton, Bruce’s Caves offers a beginner-friendly caving experience that’s accessible for all ages. Two adjoining caves can be explored easily. The cave entrance is off Grey Road 1, just before Oxenden. The parking area is narrow, so larger vehicles (RV’s) are not permitted.
Scenic Caves, The Blue Mountains
Scenic Caves Nature Adventures, situated on the highest point of the Niagara Escarpment overlooking the Blue Mountain region, offers some amazing self-guided caving and rock formations along with treetop walking, zip-lining and a suspension bridge. There is an admission fee to discover the caves and running shoes are a must. (sceniccave.com)
Duncan Escarpment Nature Reserve, The Blue Mountains
An excellent spot for crevice caving, Duncan has numerous challenging caves available. Duncan Escarpment Nature Reserve is located on Provincial Park property and conveniently connected to the Bruce Trail. Located west of Grey Road 2, a short drive from Metcalfe Rock.