Family Fun at Scenic Caves Nature AdventuresSaturday, August 02, 2014
You have to admit, nothing screams 'summer' quite like a family getaway full of scenic adventures and outdoor fun. So imagine my excitement when my husband sends me a text message asking me to look into a last-minute trip to Blue Mountain. We have been there so many times over the past decade, almost once a year, if not twice. With a myriad of four-season activities for the whole family to enjoy, I never get bored. But now that the kids are older, we've been exploring additional opportunities to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors. This time, we headed back to Scenic Caves Nature Adventures as their guests to experience some of the activities we missed out on last year. And, of course, to check out some of our favourites as well.
Recently, our family has taken an interest in hiking through the woods. It goes without saying, then, that once we arrived at Scenic Caves early on a Friday morning, we took advantage of the beautiful, cool weather to head out on a self-guided tour to explore the caves. One of Canada's Great Natural Wonders, the Scenic Caves is located at the highest part of the Niagara Escarpment, just west of Collingwood. It offers breathtaking views of the Georgian Bay and is home to mysterious caves and caverns.
I learned that the earliest written records of this particular area were written by Samuel de Champlain and the Jesuit missionaries, who lived with the Huron and Petun peoples in the early 17th century. The latter used these unique rock formations as a fortress to protect them from their enemies. They are nestled amidst beautiful wooded grounds. The tour takes approximately 50 minutes and gives you a chance to check out the Natural Refrigerator, the Ice Cave, Signal Point, the Indian Council Chamber and more. The trail also leads you to the Thunderbird, Canada's longest twin-zip line, which I tried out last year. Crazy fun!
Once we returned from our hike, the kids were desperate for some gemstone mining. This was their first time mining for gems and they absolutely loved it. Playing with water, searching for hidden treasure and discovering which semi-precious gems they could add to their collection; what kid wouldn't love that? Gemostone mining bags are not included in regular park admission but can be purchased separately for $7.08. Alternately, you can opt for the Gemstone Mining Package to save a few dollars.
Shortly afterwards, my son wanted to board Rocky the Train. He is fascinated by things on wheels and I was just as eager to escape the sun and enjoy a ride.
We also hopped on the wagon ride which takes you to the suspension bridge. Another chance to kick my feet up and enjoy the scenery.
The suspension footbridge is the longest in Ontario, measuring 126 metres in length. It is situated at the highest point of the Niagara Escarpment, more than 300 metres above Georgian Bay.
With a view of 10,000 square kilometres, you can spot popular landmarks such as Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Horseshoe Hill and the Penetanguishene Peninsula.
Scenic Caves Nature Adventures offers additional family-friendly activities such as an 18-hole mini golf course, perfect for families with younger kids, or their Eco Adventure Tour, for families with older children. Each of these activities are available at an additional cost. The tour is pricey but it includes a guided tour of the suspension bridge, treetop walk, 300' forest zipline, a hike through most of the caves and a 1000' escarpment zipline. I definitely want to try this the next time we are in the area. I love treetop trekking!
Of course, the park is the perfect place to enjoy a family picnic. There are plenty of picnic tables and Muskoka chairs available throughout the park grounds. There is also a super fun children's playground complete with swings, slides, and all sorts of climbing apparatuses.
For more photos of Scenic Caves Nature Adventures, check out my post from last summer:
For more information such as hours of operation and admission rates, visit sceniccaves.com. And don't forget, if you are planning a visit, you must wear running or hiking shoes.
Disclosure: My family and I received complimentary access to the park to help facilitate this review. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own.