One of the most stunning parts of the picturesque Bruce Peninsula
Lions Head Ontario on the Bruce Peninsula is both a place and a geographic location as this small village of about 500 people is named after the lion shaped rock formation that majestically sits across its harbour on Georgian Bay.
A little off the main path of Highway #6 roughly halfway between Owen Sound and Tobermory the tiny port sits amongst some of the most spectacular of the Niagara Escarpment’s scenery and is amongst the best on the entire Peninsula.
Striking limestone formations jut from the turquoise coloured waters and are topped with ancient cedars. Now preserved, these forests have been practically untouched by man and when viewed from the waters of the Bay they are magnificent.
There is not much to this tiny hamlet itself but it swells to 10x its normal population in the busy summer months as its scenery is unforgettable and the sunsets and sunrises are legendary. Founded in the late 1800’s by 1880 there were about 100 residents. By the end of the century a channel to the harbour was dredged and the town became a popular summer destination.
As of 1999 the village is now part of the greater Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula yet it remains a quiet place perfectly suited to those who wish to spend time amongst natural beauty.
The town itself consists of:
- A few restaurants, motels, cottages and shops
Location of Lions Head:
How to get to Lions Head:
The village lies just to the east of Highway #6, the main north-south route on the Bruce Peninsula.
- Navigate to Highway #6
- At Ferndale Road/County Road #9 head East
- Turn left into town
By Public Transport
Park Bus does have limited service during the summer months. For more information visit: Park Bus
Rail travel is not an option
Air travel is not an option
Area attractions and activities
A nature lover’s paradise the hamlet is surrounded by the Niagara Escarpment, Bruce Trail and the waters of Georgian Bay making it perfect for:
- Sea Kayakers
- Rock climbers
- Nature lovers
Lion’s Head Provincial Nature Reserve (formerly Lion’s Head Provincial Park, protects an important part of the Escarpment and is located just a few of kilometres (2 miles) east of town.
This 526 Hecatre nature sanctuary protects rare flora and it is here that you can walk an approximately 18-kilometre (11 mile) portion of the Bruce Trail along the limestone cliffs that offers stunning views off the 400 million year old, 60-metre (200 feet) high sheer cliffs.
The hikes are a little rough in some spots so bring good shoes/boots and take care, especially after a rain shower. Many hikers consider some stretches along the Lion’s Head Trail to be amongst the most beautiful the Bruce has to offer.
Similar views can also ne attained at the nearby Smokey Head – White Bluffs Provincial Nature Reserve located just 6 kilometres (4.8 miles) to the north of town. The Bruce Trail and assorted side trails also run through here and the views are also incredible.
Please note that there are no facilities at either park.
These are all year round hiking destinations despite the inclement weather at times:
- Spring – spring flowers
- Summer – beautiful weather and spectacular scenery
- Fall – colours
- Winter – cedars, cliffs, snow
Canoeing and Sea Kayaking
The town has a small Marina and sits between the Lion’s Head Reserve and the Smokey Head – White Bluffs Reserve and makes for a great launching point for a paddling journey.
The Caribbean coloured waters offer spectacular views of the cliffs best appreciated from offshore and it is for this reason that the Georgian Bay waters off the Bruce Peninsula is one of THE destinations in the Province for paddlers from across the world.
Note that the waters can become extremely dangerous at times and it is recommended that paddlers only enter the waters in calm conditions and experience is preferred.
Lions Head Ontario has one of the best ports on Georgian Bay on this side of the Peninsula and thus boating plays a huge part in its economy.
The public marina right “downtown” has 200 docks but most are seasonally booked. Transient slips are available but should be booked in advance.
The port also serves as a launch for boats onto the world famous Georgian Bay, one of the best fishing destinations on the planet. Check out some of my other pages for more information about fishing in Georgian Bay.
Many consider the cliffs around Lion’s Head Ontario to be the best in the province for climbing. There are over 120 different marked climbing routes of varying difficultly but most require rappelling so experience is definitely recommended.
The area is also very sensitive so you may not do any damage to the ancient trees in any aspect. Not a sport for everyone, on any given summer day you will see dozes of climbers attempting to scale the cliff faces around the general area.
In the summer this is a hugely popular activity in the area and the town lies at the beginning and end of one of the Peninsula’s main designated cycling routes.
The 70 kilometre (42 mile) Beaches North route takes one from Lion’s Head to Wiarton along the Georgian Bay side then cuts across the Peninsula to Oliphant Beach before heading back along the Lake Huron side.
It also is the starting point for the 80 kilometre (48 mile) Lighthouses North route to Cabot Head Provincial Nature Reserve. There is also a side route taking riders past Black Creek Provincial Park.
The town has a sandy beach right downtown by the marina at the Lion’s Head Beach Park and the swimming is actually quite good. This may be the best of the few sandy spots on this side of the Peninsula.
As the park is at the centre of town you will find all the facilities required.
Public camping is available right downtown at the Beach Park but there is also quite a few private campgrounds in the surrounding area so finding a campsite should not be an issue. Note that there is no camping at either the Smokey Head – White Bluffs or Lion’s Head Nature Reserves.
Located just 11 kilometres (7 miles) west of town lies this little hidden gem with one of the best beaches the Bruce Peninsula has to offer. Get there in only 1o minutes and have the beach all to yourself just:
- head west out of town on Ferndale Road/County Road #9
- Continue past Highway #6
- Turn right onto Stokes Bay Road
- Turn left into the park
Visit my Black Creek Provincial Park page for more information.
Located approximately 13 kilometres (8 miles) southeast of Lions Head Ontario this system of 12 linked caves and tunnels formed over 7000 years ago claim to be the Province’s largest natural limestone caves. Making for a nice 1-hour hike you will see awesome cliffs and bizarre geologic formations while also walking through ancient forests.
Worth a short jaunt especially in the spring this privately owned attraction is open from May until Canadian Thanksgiving (mid October) and is located at:
407 Scenic Cave Rd. Lions Head Ontario Phone: 519-377-8762
Insiders Tip: A flashlight and hiking shoes are recommended.
The Lions Head Ontario Lighthouse has been a landmark for almost 120 years and while now a replica of the original it is still iconic enough to be included on the Bruce Peninsula Lighthouse tour.
Numerous trails that criss-cross the area are great for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
The town also lies along the main north-south snowmobile connecting Tobermory to Owen Sound.