Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is located about 15km north of Orangeville, Ontario. Established as a park in the 1970s, the area is a mixed landscape of plains, hills, lakes, old-growth forest, and of course, tall rock formations. It is also part of the Bruce Trail, which stretches between the Niagara Region and the Bruce Peninsula.
The path taken on this round-trip was the Carriage Trail, Spillway Trail, Walter Tovell Trail, Cliff-Top Side Trail, and the Carriage Trail once more complete the loop. It is about 5km altogether.
The trails of Mono Cliffs are numerous and multi-use, including horseback riding, hiking, and cycling. The park’s entrance at 3rd Line EHS starts one off with the Carriage Trail. It is a relatively easy hike through fields and forests.
The Spillway Trail continues through much of the same environment, entering a forested area at its north end as it meets the Walter Tovell Trail. From here the trail curls south.
The Cliff-Top Side Trail is the most popular of the Mono Cliffs trails and for good reason. It ascends an incline and eventually reaching the top of the cliffs. A set of wooden stairs takes one into the crevices of the impressive formations.
The Mono Cliffs themselves are part of the Niagara Escarpment, a geological wonder that curves through New York through southwestern Ontario to Illinois. The Niagara Escarpment formed about 450 million years ago.
A lookout point marks the second attraction of the Cliff-Top Side Trail, providing an impressive vista.
The trail has interpretative plaques along the way about the built and natural heritage of the Mono Cliffs area. One marker tells the story of the Village of Mono Centre, which one can reach at the southern end of the Cliff-Top Trail. Aboriginal peoples had visited the cliffs and area for thousands of years before the arrival of the Europeans in the 1820s. Mono Centre itself grew from this point, reaching a notable level of activity in the 1850s and 60s.
To descend the escarpment, the Cliff-Top Side Trail meets up with the Carriage Trail which then reaches a long set of wooden stairs, showing off just how pronounced the elevation change is in the Mono Cliffs.
From here, the Carriage Trail returns back to the entrance, completing what is an interesting walk through millions of years of history.
“Heritage & Natural History.” Town of Mono, townofmono.com/about/heritage-natural-history.
“Mono Cliffs Provincial Park Management Plan.” Ontario.ca, http://www.ontario.ca/page/mono-cliffs-provincial-park-management-plan.
“Mono Cliffs.” Welcome to Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, http://www.ontarioparks.com/park/monocliffs.
“The Niagara Escarpment.” The Bruce Trail Conservancy, brucetrail.org/pages/about-us/the-niagara-escarpment.