The Mono Cliffs Trails - at Mono Cliffs Provincial Park - are a fantastic destination for walking and hiking. Here's what you need to know!
(I've recently regained some mobility after having mt feet destroyed by an antibiotic - Fluroroquinolone Toxicity. Cipro is nasty stuff!)
This provincial park is a beautiful place, just outside the rural town of Mono. I’ve seen it on Instagram and in multiple blog entries about popular parks and sights to be seen.
This park - which is over a section of the picturesque Bruce Trail system - is known for its beautiful forest, a lookout point, and - especially - for its wooden staircase and boardwalks along the cliff face.
It’s open year round - day use only - for walks and hiking, as well as for horseback riding and cycling.
While we spent a couple hours there - and were thoroughly worn out by the end! - we didn’t even come close to seeing the entire park.
Once the weather cools down again, I plan to go back, and plan to spend a lot of time exploring the various trails.
It would be a great way to spend a fall day, I’m looking forward to it!
About Mono Cliffs Provincial Park
Mono Cliffs is a popular spot for hikers and Instagrammers alike, for good reason - it’s full of all kinds of interesting things to see, making for a beautiful hike.
There are crevice caves, rock formations & talus slopes, 30 meter cliffs, a small lake, at least one pond, and all kinds of wild plants.
We saw ferns, trillium, and moss and definitely made note of the potential for fall leaves viewing, later in the year.
It’s located in southern Ontario, part of the Niagara Escarpment Parks System , as well as the escarpment biosphere reserve.
The Hiking Trails
The Mono Cliffs Provincial Park trails are a matrix of main trails and side trails, with some degree of overlap.
I recommend printing off a trail map before going, and/or using a service like AllTrails to keep track of where you are, and where you’re going.
We just started using AllTrails for our walks, and LOVE it!
Not only does it show you where you are on the map of trails, you have the option of following trails that users have created - and have rated / commented on.
That’s especially cool for this park, as there are a ton of possibilities, given the layout of the park.
The Named Trails
Anyway, the official trails / trail sections in the park are:
Walter Tovell Trail* - 4.8 km
McCarston’s Lake Trail - 3.6 km
Carriage Trail* - 1.3 km
Spillway Trail* - 1.3 km
Cliff-Top Side Trail* - 2.8 km
South Outlier Trail - 3.5 km
Lookout Trail - 600 m
Link Trail* - 600 m
The trails I’ve marked with a * are also designated bike trails.
A 6-kilometre section of the main Bruce Trail runs through the park - it includes a link trail, McCarston’s Trail, and part of the Cliff Top Side Trail, before kind of going off on its own.
For our walk, we walked a short distance along the Carriage Trail.
After a short - very steep - section, it opened out into a large open space. Definitely made me wish I’d brought more sun protection, it was BRIGHT.
Anyway, we turned right onto the Spillway Trail when we reached it
We walked along the trail, past a small pond, and could hear what sounded like a small creek / water culverts (?) Off to our right as we walked along this main trail.
We passed the Link Trail off to our left, electing to walk the longer way around.
We took a left turn onto a short section of the Walter Tovell Trail, before splitting off onto the Cliff-Top Trail.
The Cliff Top Trail is where you see the features that are written about in blog entries, and the typical sights you see of the park on Instagram.
I was a bit surprised to see how short / limited the wooden boardwalks / “Jacob’s Ladder” area was, as it’s SO prominently featured in anything about the park.
I’m really glad that we got there right when the park opened - it’s definitely a sight that would be difficult to enjoy / get pictures of if there had been more people there.
It was a beautiful area, walking between prominent masses of rock, seeing all the moss and baby trees growing throughout it. Gorgeous!
Personally, I think the best views of the walk were in this area, walking among the canyon’s rock crevices.
The lookout point is a cliff-top viewing platform, which looks out over a big open area below.
We didn’t get much time here, as there were crowds streaming in and out, by the time we got there.
We continued along the cliff top trail until the point where it basically comes to a dead end at 2nd Line EHS.
The trail takes a sharp left at that point.
We chose to link up with the Carriage trail and head back to the car, which took us down another set of wooden stairs, with a great view of the sprawling forest.
We soon connected back up with the section of trail we’d started on, and called it a day.
All told, we walked 5.14 km along the trails we chose.
Plan Your Visit
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is located 14 km northeast of Orangeville, and 4 km east of Mono Centre.
The main entrance and parking is located at 795086 Third Line EHS, Mono.
We used Google maps, and found the directions to be accurate (not always the case!).
In our case, this meant taking the QEW to 403/410, up towards Brampton, taking the Mayfield Rd exit.
Eventually, we turned right on Charleston Side Rd / Peel Regional rd 24, before going another 17 km along Airport road / Peel Regional Road 7.
Left on Dufferin County Rd. 8 / Mono Centre Rd, a few km more, a right on 3rd Line EHS, and the park was soon on our left
Due to the number and distance of the trails - and the time it took to get there - I’d definitely look at making a day trip of our next visit to Mono Cliffs.
NOTE: As I look at the map while writing this, I notice that the Schitt’s Creek Motel was RIGHT THERE along our path, maybe a couple minutes off the road.
308399 Hockley Rd, Orangeville, ON L9W 2Z2, btw, if you want to avoid making the mistake that we apparently did!
Parking / Permits / Booking Ahead
Your park use permit and parking fee are one and the same, and is charged by the vehicle - not by the person.
You have the option of booking a set 4 hour block ($7.25), or the full day ($15.50). Your parking and use is only for during the time slot you book.
Reservations can be made through the Ontario Parks Online Reservations System, or by calling 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275)
We did see a machine in the parking lot for paying on the spot, but I recommend booking ahead. When the lot is full, no one else is supposed to enter the park.
The park has a Twitter Account that they use to update people about the parking situation on weekends.
We parked in the main parking lot, which also seems to be the main access point for the trails.
The large parking area was pretty much empty when we arrived, but was definitely filling up by the time we left.
I would image that parking must be hard to come by later in the day on weekends, especially as the season progresses.
There is a small building with individual outhouse style stalls in the main parking lot. They were not in great shape, at least the ones facing out to the road.
As we walked up the trail, I looked back towards the parking lot and noticed that there were more stalls on the back side of the building.
We commented on this to each other, wondering if they’d be less likely to be used, and in better shape. Nothing about the front of the building indicated that there were more stalls around back, so far as we saw.
Aside from that, there was another building for outhouse style stalls along one of the trails.
That one was in even rougher shape. I actually yelled “WTF!?” when I tried to get some TP and it was SOGGY - even though it was covered with a plastic shield.
SO gross. At least it entertained a couple that had materialized - unbeknownst to me - just in time for my exclamation.
Based on what we could see of this park, I wouldn’t call it accessible at all.
Maybe it’s different at one of the other trail openings*, but our walk started off with a very steep, very uneven trail.
There were sections of the walk that were flatter / more even, but that doesn’t matter much if you can’t get that far, IMHO.
If I’d been in a boot, or on crutches or anything... I really don’t think I’d have been able to get past the first 0.25km or so.
* I would expect anything “accessible” to be part of the main parking/entrance, though!
- Bring lots of bug spray!
- Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed at a length of less than 2 metres, and picked up after.
- Fires and alcohol are not permitted in the park. Bringing / using either can result in fines.
- Removing natural items (flowers, rocks, plants, mushrooms, etc) from Provincial Parks is prohibited.
- Going off trail may result in fines and/or a provincial offense notice. They REALLY want you to stay on the trails, for myriad reasons.