We all know that Ontario is home to numerous hidden gems and natural wonders that leave us in awe of their beauty. And with so much to discover right in our backyard, it's super easy to get away for a quick day trip or last-minute adventure. If discovering mysterious rock carvings, stunning natural views, and abandoned wartime hideouts have you saying "let's go!" then you definitely need to add Cave Springs Conservation Area to your bucket list right now!
Located just off of the historic Bruce Trail just beyond Grimsby, Ontario, and on the way towards Niagara from Toronto, Cave Springs is the place to be if you're seriously craving an adventure but don't want to travel too far from the GTA.
As you tour the conservation area, you'll be wowed by the interesting rock formations, unique wildlife, and breathtaking views from atop the many rocky cliffs.
However, you should explore with caution, and take note of some advisories. Communications Specialist for Niagara Penisula Conservation Authority (NPCA), Erika Navarro, stresses the importance of staying on the trails.
"The Cave Springs Conservation Area is home to diverse and unique vegetative communities which support a variety of habitats and species ... It is a unique wildlife habitat and geologic area. Stay on the trails to protect this area. Take pictures and memories only," says Navarro.
The conservation area has a fascinating and almost spooky history. It was acquired by NPCA from Margaret Reed, who wrote a detailed history on the land before she passed away.
In her book, "The Cave Springs Mystique", Reed talks about the intriguing folklore surrounding Cave Springs Conservation Area and even refers to it as a "fountain of youth." She also mentions the underground lake, wartime hideout, mysterious rock carvings, and a nearby native North American encampment site.
At one time there was even an ice cave that was used for refrigeration! Unfortunately, it has since collapsed after expansion attempts were made.
Visitors to the conservation area can still discover creepy faces and dates carved into the rocks, but access to the underground lake no longer exists, Navarro explains.
"[Margaret's book] offers two possible entrances to the so-called underground lake," he says. "The first was a hole in the ground surrounded by loose rock located in a field above the former Clinton Township quarry on Quarry Road. It is said that this entrance is covered by a farmer's barn.
"The second entrance to the underground lake was supposedly from within the ice cave itself. Seeing how the entrance to the ice cave was destroyed, I think it is safe to assume there is no access at this time."
Navarro also tells Narcity that groundwater still seeps up from below and a small stream is visible from the trail.
The NPCA can not confirm everything in Reed's book, including how far back the mysterious rock carvings date. But, ancient or not, exploring this beautiful hidden gem and discovering all of its quirks is an adventure you don't want to miss!
You can access the conservation area from 3949 Cave Springs Rd. However, please note there are no parking or bathroom facilities, so you'll have to plan accordingly.
NPCA is currently in the process of developing a master plan for the conservation area. Until then, it's important to remain respectful of the area, including the residential barn area which is private property.
Cave Springs Conservation Area
Location: 3949 Cave Springs Rd.
Why you need to go: You can search for mysterious rock carvings with your BFFs, all while soaking in the beautiful surrounding nature and wildlife. While you're there, why not make a day out of exploring other areas of the Bruce Trail as well!
We strongly advise that before you visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, please respect the environment.