If spiral staircases, crystal blue waters, and abandoned mansions sound like your idea of an adventure, then you need to hike the Spirit Rock trail near Toronto. Located just 3 hours from Toronto, Spirit Rock spans over 87 hectares and offers incredible trails along the Niagara Escarpment. Gaze out over the clear waters of Georgian Bay while you enjoy a picnic lunch amongst the rocks and trees.
Spirit Rock Conservation Area offers over 5 km of trails, but you can choose the Blue Loop 2 km trail if you're looking for something shorter. The land holds great historical significance, as it was once home to a wealthy Irish politician named Alexander McNeill. As you explore the area, imagine the horse-drawn carriages that used to trot down the road to his extravagant parties.
Partway down the trail, a twisting staircase leads you down a rocky cliff into the serenity of Colpoy's Bay. Once you've stopped to admire the breath-taking scenery, you can continue on to the ruins of the "Corran", an old abandoned mansion.
Gaelic for "point of land running into the sea", the Corran was home to Alexander McNeill, who had the house erected in 1881. McNeill shared the 17-room home with his family and served as the Federal Member of Parliament from 1881-1901.
The mansion was once filled with ornate tapestries, oriental carvings, and walls of books. The estate was left to McNeill's son following his death, but sadly his son dwindled his inheritance away on parties.
After being sold to the Conservation Authority in 1976, a great fire destroyed the mansion, leaving only a shell behind. Visitors still flock to the sight to gaze at the crumbling ruins and enjoy the amazing scenery the trail has to offer.
Spirit Rock & Conservation Area
Price: Small parking fee
Address: 92 Highway 6 Wiarton ON, Georgian Bluffs
Why you need to go: Spirit Rock is a great day trip just outside of Toronto. The clear waters and historical ruins are a must-see!