On our second day at Blue Mountain, we spent the morning at Scenic Caves. When I had mentioned to people that I was visiting Blue Mountain, over and over I was told that the one not-to-be-missed place was the Scenic Caves. And they were right. It was an amazing experience, one my girls and I won’t soon forget.
First we rode the Big Rock Railroad, a tractor style train which pulled us along a paved pathway. The eight minute train ride drove past chainsaw carved tree trunk sculptures, giving the adults something to gaze at. While the kids simply took joy at the fact that we were riding in a train. As we pulled into the “station” the conductor asked us if we wanted to go around one more time, the kids all cheered loudly and we were off on a second go. Simple joys, right?
Next we climbed a mountain, as we set off up the stairs (my mom, my two girls, and I) to follow the path to the Scenic Caves. I had a misconception that we were climbing up to some sort of subterranean caverns, underground caves that we would walk through. Rather the scenic caves were more like a series of scenic crevices. We made our way up the mountain side, following paths to scenic outlooks, walking up sturdy metal stairs with latticework bottoms through which you could view the crevices below, some of which we would end up descending into. It was breathtaking. The view out over the Georgian bay was spectacular, but so was the view deep down inside the crevices, some of which were so deep and cool that you cold literally see your breath, on this hot day in June. Down inside the crevice, jagged rock walls towered up on all sides, topped with trees stretching up to the clouds, sunlight streaming down and the cool green moss everywhere. It was stunning. Also, I feel it’s worth mentioning; the trail, the stairways, everything was incredibly well maintained. Secure, sturdy, and clean, with not a speck of litter in sight.
The guidebook suggests that touring the Scenic Caves will take about 50 minutes. If I had my dithers I would make that hike through the scenic caves into a day long walk, one with plenty of stops to sit and contemplate the scenery and draw in my sketchbook. As it was we had a set time to meet back up with the group, and more to explore on the Scenic Caves grounds before leaving, so we trekked along at a pretty good pace.
Touring the caves was a somewhat strenuous hike. The trail was meant for adult sized legs. My older daughter, who was almost six at the time, did a great job of scrambling up the stairs and from rock to rock. It was challenging for my three year old. The kind of challenging where I found myself holding my breath and envisioning broken limbs. At times my mom and I had to take turns lifting her from one tall rock to the next. It would have been impossible without a second adult along. So basically what I am saying is, four years old and under you may want to stop and consider if you want to take them along on this trek, and keep in mind their legs will not be long enough for portions of the rocky pathway. It depends on the kid, how much they weigh (as you’ll probably end up lifting them quite a bit), how tall they are, and how we’ll they listen to things like “Stand still, don’t move, wait for Mama.”.
|See that jumble of rocks straight ahead?|
At points this is what the pathway looked like, aka not suitable for tiny legs.
The walk back down the mountain, through the gentle slopes of the two hundred year old wood was quiet and easy. My five year old raced ahead with her grandmother, while the little one and I took our time, strolling at the pace of three year old legs. Back down to where we started, we headed into the gift shop and picked up a Gemstone Mining set for each of the girls. We headed over to the panning area, where I was so busy having fun helping my three year old pan for gemstones that I forgot to take any photos. The end result was a bag of unpolished semiprecious gemstones, and a card to help ID the various stones. We put the rocks in a bowl at home where they help decorate our front room/playroom, and the girls love sorting and identifying them. For the $8 price tag, I thought this was a great take-home souvenir for the girls, which also opened up some great opportunities for discussions on rocks, geography and gold mining.
The girls were far too young to try the infamous Thunder Bird, Canada’s longest twin zip line, and we decided to skip the mini-golf area in favour of strolling around the trout pond, eyeing the gigantic fish, and spending a little time on the playground equipment.
Overall it was a fantastic morning. We could have easily made an entire day out of visiting the Scenic Caves. The climb was a bit challenging for my three year old, but both kids loved the experience and are still chattering about it weeks later. My mom loved it, I loved it. We would love to go back again. Climbing through the Scenic Caves is a breathtaking experience, one I would definitely recommend to anyone staying in the Collingwood area.
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Disclosure: My family was invited to visit Blue Mountain as part of their Family Blogger Retreat. We stayed at the Westin Trillium House and enjoyed three days as guests of Blue Mountain Resorts. We were given tickets to tour the Scenic Caves as part of our stay. As always, my words and opinions are my own.