Wiarton

Wiarton is a quaint community in the southwestern portion of the Bruce Peninsula and includes communities like Sauble Beach and Oliphant. Wiarton sits on the western end of Colpoys Bay, a small inlet off the much larger Georgian Bay that looks out to a handful of islands. 

Surrounded by nature, Wiarton offers various outdoor recreational activities. The famous Bruce Trail weaves right through the community, which offers a scenic hiking experience. You can rent kayaks and canoes on the bay, swim at one of the nearby beaches, go golfing and enjoy mountain biking, bird watching and snowshoeing. Explore the Corran Ruins at Spirit Rock Conservation Area or tour the Deep Water Gallery for one of its beloved art shows. If you’re visiting in early February, check out the Wiarton Willie Festival on Groundhog Day.

Where is Wiarton?

Wiarton is a community within the South Bruce Peninsula and sits at Colpoys Bay’s base. It’s about 220 km northwest of Toronto’s centre and a 2.5 to 3 hour drive from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

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Things to Do in Wiarton

The Wiarton community is an excellent base for your exploration of the southern portion of the Bruce Peninsula. Nature lovers will find plenty to enjoy in the area. If you like water sports, you can rent kayaks and boats at Wiarton Harbour and paddle around the protected and calm waters of Colpoys Bay. Each summer, the community hosts the Bruce Peninsula Multisport Race, which covers several routes involving kayaking, biking and running.

Bluewater Park Campground at Wiarton’s waterfront offers a beach for swimming, a children’s playground and camping and picnic spots. A small trail network takes you out into the bay and around the Wiarton Willie Statue commemorating the town’s beloved groundhog. Each year on Groundhog Day, the community hosts the Wiarton Willie Festival. You’ll hear the famous weather prediction and enjoy a carnival, parade and fireworks.

Hikers and bikers will love the area’s numerous trails. The famous Bruce Trail runs through Wiarton, stretching from the top of the Bruce Peninsula in Tobermory to Niagara for nearly 900 kilometres. railheads nearby include Jones Bluff Loop, Purple Valley and Sydney Bluff. Other popular trails in the area are Rural Rootz Nature Reserve and Greystone Trails along the Georgian Bluffs.

Mountain biking is a big sport in Wiarton, with the Bruce Peninsula Mountain Bike Adventure Park sitting just north of the community. Three main trails range from easy to difficult and take you through forests and meadows. While mostly flat, some of the routes have jumps and boardwalks. Local shops rent bikes, gear and other sporting equipment.

Just north of Wiarton’s downtown and along Colpoys Bay is Spirit Rock Conservation Area. Here you can explore the Corran Ruins. Alexander McNeill, a member of parliament, owned the estate in the late 19th century. Once a mansion, you’ll find it in ruins with some areas still intact, including an old spiral staircase that takes you down to the water. You can also catch the Bruce Trail from here.

On the other side of the bay is the Bruce's Caves Conservation Area. Explore several cave formations, a part of the Niagara Escarpment. The caves are anywhere from 7,000 to 8,000 years old. Keep going through a woodland swamp and catch the Bruce Trail to Skinner's Bluff for beautiful views over the forest and Colpoys Bay.

The community’s downtown core features historic brick buildings with numerous shops, boutiques, art galleries, cafes and restaurants. Campers can stock up on supplies at the grocery and hardware stores. And if you’re interested in regional art, stop at Deep Water Gallery for one of their popular art exhibitions.

One of the perks of visiting Wiarton is its prime location and access to many other sites on the Bruce Peninsula. Head north to the famous Lion’s Head Lookout Trail or the sea stacks in Tobermory, Flowerpot Island and Bruce Peninsula National Park. Beach lovers can tour the coast between Sauble Beach and Saugeen Shores and enjoy boating up the Sauble River.

 

Wiarton Neighbourhoods & Districts

Wiarton is a neighbourhood itself, one in the town of South Bruce Peninsula. Still, it includes a few different areas of interest.

Downtown & Harbour

Wiarton is small, but you’ll still find some activity in its downtown core. With streets lined with historic brick buildings, you can shop, eat or attend an art show. Rent boats at the harbour and paddle along the bay or set up camp at Bluewater Park. Snag a photo with a statue commemorating the community’s most beloved resident, Wiarton Willie, the groundhog.

Skinner’s Bluff

On the southern side of Colpoys Bay is where you’ll find the 7,000-year-old caves within the Niagara Escarpment. The Bruce Trail also runs through here and up to Skinner’s Bluff, where you can enjoy panoramic views.

Purple Valley

On the northern side of the bay is Purple Valley. You can find a few different hiking and mountain biking trails, including the Bruce Peninsula Mountain Bike Adventure Park. 

Things to Know About Visiting Wiarton

There is so much to offer in Wiarton, start your visit with some local favourites and follow the inspiration from there:  

Where to take an Instagram photo

The large Wiarton Willie statue commemorating the famous groundhog that sits proudly on Wiarton’s waterfront.

Favourite local beach

Take a dip and sunbathe at Bluewater Park.

Where to go for a hike

Bruce Trail. The area is rich in hiking and mountain biking trails. 

Where to see local art

Meet the regional artists from Grey and Bruce Counties at Deep Water Gallery.