An end of summer road trip took us two hours north of the city for a full day of outdoor exploring. The Scenic Caves Nature Adventures at Blue Mountain near Collingwood is a year-round destination for nature lovers. But it is so much more than a park with trees and trails. The many activities are for all ages and attention spans, making it extra easy for families to stay outdoors and keep busy in one location all day long.
This day trip had two moms and three kids climbing rocks, exploring the caves, riding wagons and trains, crossing a suspension bridge, mining for gems and in between, just sitting (while the kids played in the huge playground overlooking the trout pond.)
And there’s more depending on the season and your kids’ age (see Thunderbird Twin Zip Line and an Eco Adventure Tour.) The adventure with littler ones in TOw is definitely worth the drive. Here is how to make the most out of the visit.
Getting there: 160 km north of Toronto. Free and ample parking. Strollers are permitted in the playground and picnic areas and they can be transported by the wagon to the suspension bridge. Bring a baby carrier or you can borrow one there for free.
Low-down: Plan for at least 2-3 hours for your visit, but you can easily spend all day exploring if you decide to picnic there. The Scenic Caves Adventure Tour package includes access to the caves and bridge ($18.58 for youth and $22.57 for adults.) Mini-golf and gem mining have an additional cost. For kids 10 and older can participate in the Eco Adventure Tour ($75-$85) plus additional $8.85 for Zip Lining. There are different hours and options each season. The caves are accessible in July and August (plus the Spring and Fall weather permitting.) All visitors must where running or hiking shoes at all times. No pets allowed.
What not to miss:
Hands down, the caves and caverns were a highlight for our group. Give yourself an hour to wander through the trail, enjoy the views of Georgian Bay, peak in or go inside the caves. While the trail is accessible to all ages, the stairs, slopes and inclines can be tricky and slick for those with mobility issues and kids 3 and under. The metal stairs have handrails and there is enough room to hold the hands of timid or adventurous ones. I’d say 6 and up is the prime age for exploring (with an adult in TOw obviously.) Don’t choose Fat Man’s Misery as your first stop (we did), it’s very tight squeeze. You can climb over and the view on the other side is breath taking.
A close runner up was the gem mining. While the activity doesn’t last long, the kids absolutely loved sleuthing their bag of sand and gems through the flowing water. You get to bring the contents home with a card to help identify your findings.
I know, you didn’t travel from Toronto to play at a playground. But the Adventure Playground is a lot of fun and a nice break between activities.
We ended our day with the suspension bridge – a 126-metre long suspension bridge 25 metres above the valley. It does move with your steps ever so slightly, but completely do-able for all ages. Again, gorgeous views.
We love a good nature hike. The walk back from the caves to the visitor centre was probably this mom in TOw’s highlight. The forest is beautiful and quiet – a nice calm return after some of the adrenaline inducing moments with a three-year-old who wanted to scale the rocks. You can also walk to and/or back to the suspension bridge. The distance is do-able for little legs too.
Nordic Centre: Our first taste was cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing during the winter months. It’s beautiful. There are equipment rentals (including sleds for babes in TOw.) While the caves are not accessible during the winter months, the bridge is and offers stunning views.
Food: The snack bar is open year-round and there is a BBQ option during July and August. You can also bring your own picnic. In the winter, the wood stove is going and makes for a cozy place for a break.
260/280 Scenic Caves Road
Blue Mountains, Ontario