A Fun Day Hiking Mono Cliffs In The Spring
We changed things up hiking Mono Cliffs in the Spring. We live on Lake Ontario in Toronto and spent a lot of time walking the waterfront paths. But we looked for something a little different one day.
After some research, David was intrigued with the idea of the cliffs at Mono Cliffs Provincial Park on the picturesque Bruce Trail. We mapped out how to visit. Our planned hike started on the top of the cliffs and then went through the valley before we returned to the top of the cliff.
This was not the easiest path around Mono Cliffs Provincial Park. Most of the paths were relatively flat but we did go up and down some steeper rock paths. Our planned route through the park did not get us all views of the cliffs. But it was still a great hike and a wonderful day in the fresh air.
Planning Our Visit
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is located about 1 hour northwest of Toronto. There were several routes north. We took the more scenic route up and then headed down on a faster route when we returned close to rush hour.
Mono Cliffs is an Ontario Provincial Park located on the Bruce Trail. The Bruce Trail is a permanently protected natural corridor along the Niagara Escarpment. The main trail runs for over 890km from the Niagara River to the tip of Tobermory and other trails branch off from it. We hit the Bruce Trail many times when we explored around the Great Lakes in Ontario.
There was one main parking lot for Mono Cliffs. Several gates exited the park to local roads but there was no parking on these municipal roads. When we searched Mono Cliffs on a map, we saw a small parking area near the top of the cliffs. We planned to start our visit there and check that out first.
Getting Ready For Our Hike
We headed north mid-week. The park was already very busy on the weekends and we wanted to avoid the crowds.
It was an easy drive north. We followed our directions and found the very small parking area on the 2nd Line. There was no parking allowed on most of the road. But close to the gate there was an area marked that held maybe 10 cars on the side of the road. Luckily mid-week this parking area was not full when we arrived or when we left.
It was recommended that we download a copy of the trail map. We had it on our phones and used it several times to locate where we were. But once we were on the trail, we found that our offline map app actually did a good job and pinpointed our position.
After we parked, we checked the map and planned our route for hiking Mono Cliffs in the Spring. Our planned route took us along the cliff top, down into the valley, along the valley and then back up to the cliff top. There were several options for paths through the valley and we left that decision until later.
Starting On The Cliff Top Trail At The Viewpoint
We headed off for our hike dressed for a chilly morning. When we were in the sun, it was warm. But much of the hike was through wooded area and we needed an extra layer until the day warmed up. We both wore hiking boots and took our hiking poles for the hike. We knew the the elevation difference between the top of the cliff and the valley was about 100m. At some point, we expected to climb down and then back up since we started at the top of the cliff.
The Cliff Top Trail at that point was an easy path to walk and we quickly found the viewpoint. A large metal platform provided a view down into the valley below us and out to the horizon. We got excited for our day hiking Mono Cliffs in the Spring.
In several places we saw steep stairs that went down into the valley. We continued our walk along the Cliff Top Trail. But wondered if we might take the stairs back up.
Down Into The Valley Hiking Mono Cliffs In The Spring
The path along the cliff top at this point was quite flat. But we soon hit the downhill part to get into the valley. The path down was at quite an angle and we moved around the boulders on the path. We were glad we had our hiking poles with us.
When we hit the bottom, we were rewarded with a small pond. We found two of the few benches that we saw in this park by the pond. And we sat and had our lunch here.
While we stopped, the clouds looked like they might take away our sunshine. But they moved quickly and we were soon in sunshine again.
Walking Along The Walter Tovell Trail
On the bottom, we followed along the Walter Tovell Trail. Walter Tovell was a geology professor who studied and wrote about the geology of the Niagara Escarpment. He was instrumental in the work done to protect the Niagara Escarpment.
The path took us in and out of the woods. At one point, we passed the small pond we saw from the observation platform. When we looked up, we just made out the platform.
As we walked along, several times we crossed other paths. At each crossing point, the trail directions were well marked. Many of the trails allowed bikes or horseback riders. These were well marked on the park map and at each of these trail posts. In some places we saw side trails that were not official parts of the Mono Cliffs park and were to be used at your own risk. Many were named for local pioneer families.
Several times we crossed the Spillway Trail and chose not to go that way. A little more advance research would have told us that this was the path to follow for the wooden walkways that wound close to the rock faces. Although we did not know we missed this view until we finished for the day. A great reason to head back for hiking Mono Cliffs in Spring or later in the year.
Searching For The Cliff Views
The big draw for our visit to Mono Cliffs was the “cliffs”. We knew this was a spot where we would see the Niagara Escarpment. We knew where the cliffs were because we started our hike on top of the cliffs.
For most of the walk, we saw pine trees that went up the cliffs. But we really did not see a cliff face. And then as we almost finished our valley walk, we caught glimpses of the rock face through the bare trees. We were sure that these views would be impossible to see once the leaves were all back on the trees.
As we walked we saw the cliff face start to drop down. We passed a path that took us to the bottom of the stairs to climb back to the top. But we kept on the Walter Tovell Trail and looked for a hiking trail back up.
A Short Break By The Lake
We ultimately found the path that connected back to the Cliff Top Trail. The path crossed a small creek and David called me forward to look at the waterfall. I can show you a close up picture that shows the rushing water. But the reality was not quite as exciting!
But when we left the trees we found a large beautiful lake in front of us. The lake reflected the perfect blue sky dotted with white puffy clouds. We found another bench by this lake and enjoyed a short break. This was only the second spot we found benches in this park.
Refreshed we continued on the path sure that soon we needed to head up! Hiking Mono Cliffs in the Spring gave us many ups and downs.
Signs Of Civilization
As we turned back towards our starting point, the path moved over a series of wooden platforms. The platforms were in small tree groves and marshy areas. We still watched for the wooden paths by the cliff faces!
The path climbed steadily up. At points the climb was up steep paths strewn with trees and boulders. We felt like billy goats as we climbed these steeper parts. But at other points it was a less demanding climb.
The path at this point got close to the main roads. We heard signs of civilization and at one point saw the backyard of one house. This was a great hiking path to have in our backyard! We even saw the small Mono Centre Cemetery beside the park grounds.
It was soon clear that we had reached the top of the cliff. We found the path that took us back to the car and were done for the day hiking Mono Cliffs in the Spring.
Some Tips For Hiking Mono Cliffs In The Spring
We chose to do a route that took us to the cliff top and down into the valley. We were glad we were prepared. Some things to keep in mind if you plan hiking in Mono Cliffs in the Spring:
- The park gets busy on the weekend. So a mid-week visit ensured we met few people and parked in the small area at the top of the cliff.
- Take a map with you and think about your route in advance. The signs all refer to the Trail names.
- Many of the paths can be used by bikes or horses. So expect you might need to share the path at some time.
- The paths at the bottom are mostly flat but since we did not come from the parking lot, we are not sure if there are easier flat paths for a short hike.
- In many places we found wooden paths. Some required a large step to get up or down. And they did not all feel stable.
- If you want to go to the top of the cliffs, be prepared for rough terrain to climb on the path. Or you could climb the stairs. We were glad we wore hiking boots and had hiking poles.
- There was a good variation in temperatures between the open areas and deep in the trees. Wear layers and carry a backpack.
- There was no food supply in the park so pack food and water. We hiked for a few hours and were glad we had supplies with us.
- We found a very limited number of benches. If you need a rest you may need to find a tree or rock.
- Don’t miss the Spillway Trail if you want to get the best views of rock faces up close.
- The main cliff was visible from the valley paths. But once the trees are in full bloom, it might be hard to see. On our Spring visit, we found a few spots to see the rock face.
We hope these tips will help prepare you for your visit to Mono Cliffs.
A Great Day Out Hiking Mono Cliffs In The Spring
We had a great day hiking Mono Cliffs in the Spring. Just one more of the day trips from Toronto. It was wonderful to visit mid-week when the crowds were small. It meant we parked in the small parking area with no problems. And started our hike on the top of the cliff.
The path we planned was a great hike on the top of the cliff and in the valley. Although we were sorry we missed the Spillway Trail and the wooden path close to the rock face. Just one reason to plan a return visit.
Have you tried hiking Mono Cliffs in the Spring? Any other tips?
Save For Later – PIN To Pinterest: