Conservation in the Sydenham Section

The Bruce Trail is more than just a footpath. It plays a vital role in protecting and preserving one of Canada’s most important natural environments.

The Bruce Trail Conservancy is working to create a secure and permanent conservation corridor, containing a public footpath along the Niagara Escarpment, in order to protect its natural ecosystems. As one of Ontario's largest land trusts, we have been responsible for the preservation of 10,000 acres of land since 1974. We have protected a diverse array of landscape types - wetlands, karst topography, open meadows, caves, towering scarp edges and lush forests. This work has been instrumental in the Niagara Escarpment being named a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations in 1990.

Thank you to all our Donors who have given so generously to our land acquisition campaigns and helped to preserve these irreplaceable treasures!

Take a look at some of our conservation highlights within the Sydenham section:

Kemble Rock and Kemble Wetland

The Kemble Wetland Nature Reserve is just south-west of Kemble Mountain. Its 142 acres include regenerating fields, meadows, and an impressive wetland complex.

Together with the adjacent 200-acre Kemble Rock Nature Reserve (secured earlier in 2017) we have a remarkable 342-acre expanse of preserved land. More than 2 km of the Bruce Trail's Optimum Route is secured, and we’ll move 3 km of Trail off roadways.

Kemble Rock contains a mature deciduous forest. It’s quite large, and has significant ‘interior forest' habitat (defined as forested land that is 100m away from a forest edge), which is extremely important for numerous species such as the Pileated Woodpecker, Ovenbird, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Wood Thrush, and Eastern Wood-pewee.

Kemble Wetland contains part of the Kemble Wetlands Life Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI), as well as part of the Indian Creek Provincially Significant Wetland complex.

This nature reserve protects a variety of habitats including:

Regenerating agricultural land:

This regenerating land is now transitioning to native trees and shrubs which have seeded in from the surrounding forests and fencerows, and provides habitat for grassland and edge associated bird species.

Deciduous forest:

The emerging forest contains young Sugar Maple, White Ash, White Elm and Hawthorns, and provide excellent habitat for certain bird species, particularly the Brown Thrasher, Blue-winged Warbler and Gray Catbird.


The wetlands are dominated by Swamp Maple and Black Ash, which provide habitat for birds such as the Northern Waterthrush.

Ancient Beach Nature Reserve

The 58-acre Ancient Beach Nature Reserve secures about 1.1 km of the main Bruce Trail in the upper regions of Grey County, at Colpoy’s Range Road and Cole’s Sideroad. See map 34 in the Guidebook.

Its evocative name comes from the 11,000-year old baymouth beach ridge, stretching across the mouth of the Slough of Despond, which formed after the glacial Lake Algonquin lapped up high on the cliffs of the Escarpment long ago. Today this Provincially Significant beach bar forms the northern boundary of a thriving wetland in the Slough of Despond. Rounded cobbles scattered throughout the property give clues to its wave-pounded past.

Habitats on this property include regenerating forest, open meadow, thicket swamp, and meadow marsh. These are home to many birds, rare creatures like Northern Map Turtles and Redbelly Snakes, as well as rare plants like Schweinitz’s Sedge.

Sydenham Nature Reserve

Long-time member and active volunteer Cliff Keeling donated this 127-acre Nature Reserve to the BTC in 2015. It’s located near Inglis Falls Conservation Area(near Owen Sound), east of Highway 6, and just north of Rockford.

The Niagara Escarpment lies west of the highway but there’s a secondary Escarpment rise on many parts of this nature reserve, including some exposed bedrock and many boulders. The disappearing stream exhibits a karst feature, and it re-appears 75 meters away at another stream.

This property supports a variety of habitats including a typical deciduous Escarpment forest, a pine plantation, swamp, and meadow. These lands provide an important wildlife corridor connecting other forested areas nearby

Silent Valley

Silent Valley is a place of cultural, geological and biological diversity that calls for exploration. For decades the trees on this land were harvested. Now this forest is regenerating, and this nature reserve's diverse habitats - ponds, meadows, forest and cliff - can once again thrive.

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Several Side Trails have been built on this property to help explore and learn (reference BTC Guidebook - Map 30).

Learn more about Silent Valley by reading the book! It may be purchased locally from any SBTC Board member, or online through the Bruce Trail Conservancy.

Fossil Glen

Fossil Glen is a 68-acre gem approximately 6 km north of Owen Sound. It has many unique wonders:

  • The unique moss and fern covered dolostone ridge, which supports a community of Eastern White Cedar and Mountain Maple. This ridge is host to fossils that are 430 million years old.

  • The impressive display of ferns including: Walking Fern, Mackay's Bladder Fern, Bulblet Fern, Goldie's Wood Fern, Narrowleaved Glade Fern, Marginal Wood Fern, Spinulose Shield Fern, Intermediate Wood Fern and a healthy population of Hart's Tongue Fern (a provincial and national Species of Special Concern)

  • The protective canopy of Sugar Maple, Hemlock, White Ash and American Beech trees that are approaching Old Growth condition

  • A coldwater, groundwater spring from the Escarpment face that empties into a pond providing excellent habitat for waterfowl and amphibians