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Visiting Tobermory: The Grotto and Cyprus Lake Trail

What do you do when you encounter hoards of people sunning themselves on the rocky shoreline of Georgian Bay in Bruce Peninsula National Park?

You keep on walking.

Unfortunately for us, we chose the wrong day to visit the Grotto and Cyprus Lake Trail during our day trip to Tobermory, Ontario. While at the Park, we also explored the popular, but rocky Georgian Bay Marr Lake Trails.

The Famous Grotto at Bruce Peninsula National Park

Our destination was the Georgian Bay shoreline, with the well-known Indian Head Cove, Natural Arch and the Grotto. These spots normally offer fantastic scenery for the photographer. Blue, aquamarine and teal waters as well as a rocky shoreline make for some dramatic imagery. But not when you have sunbathers in the shot!

Visiting Tobermory Day Trip

The Grotto – populated by teens during the summer

Indian Head Cove is technically not really a beach – there’s no sand to be found in this area. The cove, as well as the Grotto and Natural Arch are dolomite limestone. Waves have eaten away caves and the rock along the shore, creating interesting places to explore. These natural formations make for interesting photography.

What made the situation lousy for photos during our visit is that the cave at the famous Grotto was packed with a group of young teenagers. They were hanging around on the rocks and in the water, destroying the view, oblivious to people above them who may want to take a photo.

So lesson learned – don’t go hiking here on a sunny warm day as you will encounter sunbathing and bathing “beauties” who have beached themselves on the rocks.

Marr Lake Trail

If you keep on going you eventually reach a quieter spot at the start of Marr Lake Trail. The only thing that you need to be aware of is the rocky surface and what it can do to your ankles if you don’t watch where you step.

The view here is breathtaking. If it’s a windy day, the water can splash you if you get too close to the shoreline. It’s worth the more adventurous walk on an extremely rocky surface as you head into the quieter Marr Lake trail. There are fewer people on the trail so it’s easier to get the perfect shot.

The Grotto and Cyprus Lake Trail

The Grotto and Cyprus Lake Trail

If you stand at the shoreline and don’t pay attention, you may get splashed on your backside if it’s a windy day

If you want to rest a moment, this is a recommended spot for lunch. It’s also a great time to do some exploring. The rocks and boulders that are here hold many little treasures of the past. There are fossils galore!

The Grotto and Cyprus Lake Trail

Looking for fossils by the shoreline of Georgian Bay

Marr Lake Trail is a quiet, less traveled one, but it’s also a tough trail. You’re dealing with rocks, an incline and more rocks. By the time you are done, you wish you were back at your campsite or car.

Checking Out Cyprus Lake Trail

Once you complete the Marr Lake Trail you still need to head to the Head of Trails that leads you back to the Cyprus Lake trail. It’s a bit of a walk, but the lake itself is very beautiful. More clear aquamarine water with a slightly rocky shoreline!

One thing you will note when you’re on the Cyprus Lake Trail is that it gets busier, as campgrounds are nearby. Don’t be surprised to have your quiet walk disturbed by somebody carrying around a radio or talking loudly.

The Grotto and Cyprus Lake Trail

Cyprus Lake

Tips For Your Bruce Peninsula National Park Visit

A few things to take with you when you visit the Grotto and Cyprus Lake Trail if it’s a warm, sunny day:

  • One or two chilled, large bottles of water – you are going to need it at the halfway point
  • Light lunch for a rest stop
  • Comfortable hiking boots and proper socks. I learned my lesson the hard way with blisters!
  • Sunscreen as the hike takes more than an hour – any unprotected skin will burn.
  • Pack your patience!  There are young people taking these trails to get to Indian Head Cove. They play their portable stereos loudly and some don’t know how to share the pathway. Of course, there are also those who will ruin your view of the lovely shoreline.

The best times to visit are very early in the morning or slightly later in the evening (if you can deal with impending darkness of night) and cloudy overcast days to avoid the crowds. If you’re camping on-site at Cyprus Lake, wake up early and head out as soon as you can!

A one-day roadtrip to Tobermory from Toronto is doable on weekends if you wake up very early in the morning. As they say… the early bird gets the worm!

What is your favourite place to visit in  Bruce Peninsula National Park? 

The super blue waters of Cyprus Lake at Bruce Peninsula National Park, near Tobermory, Ontario.


  1. Your post is superb and helpful for visitors.All the images are really beautiful and eye catching.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.


    Amelie Wakelin

  2. Thanks for warning re teenagers. 😆 I’m going in May. Do you think a be too bulky or get wet? I’m going to the Georgian Bay shoreline and the Grotto sea cave, camping at Cypress and online mentions climbing through narrow passages and water, but I couldn’t see pics of what this is like (i.e. Land in waist deep splashy water?). Thanks!

    • Hi Sylvia – it will be chilly in the water in May! I’m not sure about the Grotto area and getting to it via the water. We’ve stuck to views from above during our visits. Have fun visiting – you’ll likely have fewer people in the water at that time.