Boyne Valley Provincial Park has got it all. Scenic lookouts, dense woodlands, babbling brooks, wooden bridges, and vast meadows. It’s the perfect place for a day hike, whether you choose a shorter hike or a lengthier one. There are options for everyone. You’ll be able to hike on a section of the Bruce Trail that meanders through the park or several of its side trails. Even though this is a provincial park, it’s one of Ontario’s non-operating parks, meaning that there aren’t any facilities or restrooms on site.
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A Map of the Hiking Trails at Boyne Valley
Unlike some of the other provincial parks and conservation areas that we’ve visited, there’s no posted map of the hiking trails at Boyne Valley Provincial Park. The trail is very well marked with white trail blazers for the Bruce Trail and blue blazes for the side trails. With that said, it’s good to know in advance just how far you’re willing to hike and whether or not you’ll need to turn around at any point.
If you follow the proper trails, you can hike the entire loop at Boyne Valley Provincial Park back to where you parked your car. If you keep hiking along the Bruce Trail, you might need to turn around and backtrack depending on where you went. Here’s a map of where we hiked at Boyne Valley. The “P” is where we parked our car, the red line denotes the Bruce Trail, and the blue line denotes the side trail. We hiked the Murphy’s Pinnacle Side Trail (70 metres) and the Boyne Valley Side Trail (2.7km). Along with the Bruce Trail, the entire hike was 6.3km and took around 2 hours.
Hiking at Boyne Valley Provincial Park
Hiking the trails at Boyne Valley Provincial Park is a wonderful experience. You can take a shorter hike to experience the lookout, the forest, and some of the bridges over the Boyne River. We hiked the entire loop through the provincial park for a decent two hour trek. It’s possible to add the Primrose Loop Side Trail for an additional 4.3km to your trip, expanding this hike to a few hours.
We started at the parking lot and hiked south into the park. You’ll see white trail markers to the left and to the right, marking the Bruce Trail. We veered to the right and walked through gentle, rolling meadows on our way to Murphy’s Pinnacle Side Trail.
Murphy’s Pinnacle Side Trail
It’s a short hill climb for a big payoff. Take the Murphy’s Pinnacle Side Trail to the top of the hill for the best scenic lookout at Boyne Valley Provincial Park. You can also reach Murphy’s Pinnacle from the Primrose Loop Side Trail if you’re approaching from the west.
Murphy’s Pinnacle is a small, grassy hill and one of the highest vantage points on the Primrose Moraine. It was formed during the last glacial retreat over 12,000 years ago. You can enjoy amazing panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, and you might even spot Toronto on a clear day.
Primrose Loop Side Trail
While we didn’t hike on the Primrose Loop Side Trail, you’ll see signs for it off the Bruce Trail. It you wish to extend your trek, you can hike this additional 4.3km loop trail. Perhaps I’ll return at some point in the future to check out the Primrose Loop Side trail. Be sure to let me know in the comments section if you’ve ever hiked this one and your experiences!
The Bruce Trail into the Forest
From Murphy’s Pinnacle Side Trail, we hiked back down towards the Bruce Trail to the east. Justin and I descended into the Boyne Valley and the forest. Before long, we hiked down the narrow path on the forest floor, following the white blazes on the trees. Eventually, the trail leads to the Boyne River. There are several wooden foot bridges that makes the trek across the river and back an easy journey.
We also came across a couple of wooden bridges across the wider sections of the Boyne River. I don’t know what it is about finding little bridges on the hike, but I just love it! Some of the trees grow at the very edge of the river with their massive roots clinging to the edges of the shallow riverbed. Fallen logs balance precariously using other tree branches as support, and some extend across the river itself. All in all, there are four bridges and a total of 60 metres of boardwalk that will keep your feet nice and dry.
Beyond the river and its bridges, the trail continues even further into the forest and across steep ravines. There are many wide, uphill sections that will give you a little bit of a workout. Be reassured that once you climb uphill, you’ll eventually go back downhill, too. Then, you’ll reach a spot where you can keep hiking south on the Bruce Trail or take the Boyne Valley Side Trail.
Boyne Valley Side Trail
The Boyne Valley Side Trail connects the trail around Boyne Valley Provincial Park in a big loop. The Boyne Valley Side Trail is just as scenic as other areas around the park. You’ll encounter open meadows and sheltered woodlands. On this trail, it was just us and the birds. We managed to spot a few Blue Jays hopping from treetop to treetop.
In order to complete the loop, you’ll end up walking on a paved road, 1st Line East. It’s still considered part of the Boyne Valley Side Trail, and you’ll even see a few blue markers on hydro poles. Even though we had to walk at the side of the road, we saw a grand total of zero cars for this entire walk. Of course, it’s the least exciting and scenic part of the journey, but a necessary one.
After walking up the road, you’ll see signs for Boyne Valley Provincial Park leading back into the forest to your left. It’s pretty obvious so I’m sure you won’t miss it.
Now that you’re back in the forest, be prepared for one of the prettiest parts of the hike. Savour the scenery as you hike through the base of the ravine. You’ll be surrounded by hardwood trees as you’ll wander down the path, deep in the valley.
Back to the Bruce
The Boyne Valley Side Trail will end and the Bruce Trail begins again. Keep walking straight ahead to connect with the Bruce Trail. After you ascend through the forest, you’ll reach open farm fields and land that used to be an old apple orchard. Then, you’ll eventually be back where you started the hike. At 6.3km in total, this took us approximately two hours, although we stopped along the way to take photos.
Plan Your Visit
Here’s a map of where you’ll find Boyne Valley Provincial Park. While there are a few places to park on the way (depending on where you want to hike), the main parking lot and entrance is on Centre Road, south of Side Road 5. There’s room for approximately 10 vehicles.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, this is a non-operating provincial park. You’ll be immersed in beautiful nature. There aren’t any staff members on site, nor are there any restrooms or other facilities. Plan accordingly!
More Hiking in York, Durham & Headwaters
Looking for more York Region hikes? Here are some other nearby hiking trails in York, Durham and Headwaters:
- Nokiidaa Trail (Holland River Trail)
- Happy Valley Forest & Humber Source Woods
- Cold Creek Conservation Area
- Thornton Bales Conservation Area (King Township)
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