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Travel Hikes & Walks

40 Days & 40 Hikes

Loving the Bruce Trail One Loop at a Time

by (author) Nicola Ross

ECW Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2024
Hikes & Walks, Regional, Ontario, Hiking
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2024
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2024
    List Price

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Travel the Bruce Trail in day hikes with Loops & Lattes author Nicola Ross

Best known for her detailed Loops & Lattes hiking guides, Nicola Ross has inspired tens of thousands of people to lace up their boots and explore Ontario’s trails. In 40 Days & 40 Hikes, this adventurer, author, and environmentalist sets herself a new challenge: to hike the Bruce Trail from Niagara to Tobermory in her own creative way. In 40 cleverly crafted day-loops, Ross covers over 900 kilometers mostly following Canada’s longest marked trail, taking you with her on an insightful journey to the Niagara Escarpment’s remarkable sights.

As Ross walks, she reveals stories of the trail’s flora and fauna, geology and history. The Bruce Trail becomes the central character as she ponders her role in protecting the fragile corner of the planet that, she contends, is entwined in her DNA. Despite long days on the trail, encounters with bears, ticks, and a deadly derecho, her passion for her beloved Niagara Escarpment mounts as she explores Ontario’s “ribbon of wilderness.”

Perfect for hikers, non-hikers, and anyone who loves an adventure, 40 Days & 40 Hikes is both a captivating travelogue and a useful companion for those who Ross will undoubtedly inspire to follow in her footsteps.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Nicola Ross is a National Magazine Award–winning journalist and the bestselling author of six Loops & Lattes hiking guides, with over 50,000 copies in print. She lives with her partner, Alex, in a converted sawmill (circa 1857) in Caledon, Ontario.

Excerpt: 40 Days & 40 Hikes: Loving the Bruce Trail One Loop at a Time (by (author) Nicola Ross)

Day 1
Queenston Heights / Laura Secord


Start Time: 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Trailhead Weather: Cool, dull, threatening rain, though none came
Distance: 16 km
Elapsed Time: 5h
BT Section: Niagara
BT Map: #1
Main BT Walked: 0 km to 5.3 km
Ascent: 437 m / Descent: 408 m
Side/Other Trails: Sir Isaac Brock Side Trail, Laura Secord Legacy Trail
Flora/Fauna of Note: American robins (Turdus migratorius), Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), Downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), Hairy woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus), Eastern wood-pewee (Contopus virens), Eastern towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus), coyote (Canis latrans)

In which I learn Niagara Falls is no match for an etiquette teacher and her cat; Laura Secord didn’t need a cow; Canadian history isn’t dull and nature could use all the friends it can get.

Staring at green luminescent letters that read “No Overnight Parking,” I asked the machine in Queenston Heights Park, home to the Bruce Trail’s southern terminus, “What do you mean no overnight parking? It’s 7:30 in the morning and I’m here to begin my adventure.”

When cursing wouldn’t convince the machine that night didn’t end until 10 a.m., I realized that hiking the Bruce Trail “my way” might be a dream — already a ticket dispenser was dictating my plans. I jumped back into my car and headed downhill toward the village of Queenston. Finding a more enlightened ticket dispenser, I parked my car and hoisted my daypack into place. With my GPS, notebook and pen in hand, my slightly altered journey had begun.

* * *

The blue blazes of the Sir Isaac Brock Side Trail directed me onto an earthen path that zig-zagged up toward Queenston Heights Park to the official start of the BT. As I neared the top, I stopped at a clearing and looked down at the mighty Niagara River thinking, Had I parked up above, I would have missed this view. Linking Lake Erie to Lake Ontario and forming the border between Canada and the United States, its limestone-green clouded flow surges over Canada’s Horseshoe Falls at 35 kilometres per hour making it North America’s most powerful cataract and an irresistible draw for a 63-year-old unemployed dance and etiquette teacher named Annie Edson Taylor. In pursuit of fame and fortune, Taylor’s gamble was to become the first person to plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel. On October 24, 1901, with her orange cat clutched to her chest, this Michigander was sealed into a four-and-a-half-foot-long barrel made of one-and-a-half-inch-thick oak with the words Maid of the Mist hand-painted on the side. Her handlers pushed the barrel and its precious cargo into the Niagara River’s surging current. It bobbed along, gradually gaining speed. Minutes later it plunged over what amounted to a 14-storey-high building — a mere speck in the river’s calamitous flow. Taylor and her cat, unlike four of the other 13 people who attempted this feat before it was outlawed, survived the ordeal. Accounts suggest that upon being released from her confine, she asked, “Have I gone over the falls?”

Editorial Reviews

“Casual and experienced hikers alike will enjoy this unconventional memoir/travelogue/nature guide. Also ideal for readers who seek out opportunities to champion conservation and are curious about Canadian natural wonders, history, and landmarks.” — Library Journal