Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Top 10 Spots to Shoot Photos of Georgian Bay

Thought I'd share this article I recently wrote about Georgian Bay. What are your favourite spots to shoot photos around the bay?

Halfway Log Dump in Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario.

You could spend a lifetime photographing scenic vistas around Georgian Bay and never shoot the same place twice. The Bay has some incredible scenery - from the limestone cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment plunging into Caribbean-blue waters, to granite islands dotted with wind-swept white pines. This makes it incredibly difficult to come up with a top 10 list. It’s probably more accurate to call this “My 10 Favourite Places to Shoot the Georgian Bay Shoreline… so far!” Why “so far”? Because I’m continually finding new locations and never know what amazing scene awaits me around that next bend.

I’ve deliberately picked locations that have fairly easy access, either by a short hike or boat ride with a commercial operator. But I’ve also included a couple that require a bit of adventure to get to! Enjoy exploring and adding your own personal favourite places to the list! For more information about touring around Georgian Bay, visit: .

1. Bruce Peninsula National Park
I’m slightly biased since this is my backyard, but the stretch of Georgian Bay shoreline between Halfway Log Dump and the famous Grotto is one of the most scenic shorelines in all of Canada. Reach Halfway Log Dump (sunrise shoot) from Emmett Lake Road plus a 15 minute easy hike. To reach the Grotto and adjacent Indian Head Cove (best in afternoon light), take Cyprus Lake Road and hike the Georgian Bay Trail (20 minutes). If you’re up for a rugged hike, the Bruce Trail follows this shoreline and offers numerous extraordinary lookouts for the adventure photographer.

2. Flowerpot Island, Fathom Five National Marine Park, Tobermory
The two rock pillars on the shoreline of Flowerpot Island are marvels of geomorphology and icons of Fathom Five National Marine Park. Catch a tour boat from the town of Tobermory for the short cruise over to the island, followed by a 10 minute hike to the flowerpot rock stacks. This is a morning shoot, so take the first boat of the day, or better yet book one of the 6 campsites on the island and get over there the night before so you’re ready for first light.

3. Lion's Head harbour, Bruce Peninsula
I’d bet my hiking boots that you can’t find a prettier harbour on Georgian Bay than Lion’s Head. There’s a sand beach and quaint marina, but the real beauty is the small lighthouse marking entrance to the clear blue harbour and the backdrop of huge cliffs. Shoot from the public beach in the evening with a telephoto lens to catch the light illuminating the lighthouse and distant cliffs.

4. Craigleith Provincial Park
There’s no easier place to bag a panoramic photo of Georgian Bay than Craigleith. This spot is literally right along Highway 26 as you drive around the southern part of the Bay between Collingwood and Thornbury. I like to catch a stormy sky over the flat rocky shoreline, but you might prefer to search for fossil Trilobites in the bedrock.

5. Georgian Bay Islands National Park
The 63 islands of this park stretch from the hardwood forests on the south end of Beausoleil Island northwards up to the granite islands near the mouth of Twelve Mile Bay. If you’re a boater, you’ll have access to many great spots in this park. Most visitors, however, take the park’s DayTripper boat service to reach Beausoleil Island where you can camp, or better yet – stay in a cabin. Hike up to the north end of the island and spend your time shooting the beautiful scenes around Fairy Lake (either sunrise or sunset).

6. The Massasauga Provincial Park
You’re going to have to work a bit harder to shoot this park, but it is well worth it. Plan a multi-day canoe or kayak trip to explore the myriad islands that comprise Massasauga. The closer you paddle to the barrier islands on the edge of open Georgian Bay, the better the scenery gets. The white pines on granite rock around Wreck Island are iconic Georgian Bay scenes.

7. Killbear Provincial Park
Located just west of Parry Sound, Killbear Provincial Park is a popular camping park with 881 campsites. Killbear is one of the few places where you have easy access to the eastern shoreline of Georgian Bay. There are several trails to hike, each offering classic views of the Bay. The definitive Killbear photo however, and a truly iconic Georgian Bay image, is the lonely windswept white pine located at Sunset Rock.

8. French River Provincial Park
Most people catch the classic shot of the French at the bridge where Highway 69 crosses the river, but for an awesome Georgian Bay experience, book a few days at one of the fishing lodges down the river. Most of the lodges have reasonably priced rustic cabins and rental canoes, so you can explore the mouth of the river at Georgian Bay.

9. Killarney Provincial Park

Mouth of Chickanishing Creek in Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario.

Killarney boasts some of the best scenery in Ontario with its granite ridges, towering white pines, wilderness lakes and stunning Georgian Bay shoreline. My favourite location to photograph in the park, which also gets my vote as the single most iconic Georgian Bay scene, is at the mouth of the Chickanishing River. Just east of the town of Killarney, take the Chickanishing Road to the end, then walk the 20 minute Chickanishing Trail until it ends at Georgian Bay. The island just off the mouth of the creek is the perfect backdrop and lights up the best at sunrise.

10. Manitoulin Island
The world’s largest freshwater island, Manitoulin is a rural paradise where you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Largely undeveloped, the island has many quaint shoreline locations to be discovered. One of the best panoramic views on all of Georgian Bay is Ten Mile Point, located right along Highway 6 between Little Current and Manitowaning. Bring a telephoto lens for this photo, so you’re able to zoom in on the myriad distant islands.

When you’re on the island, be sure to lace up your hiking boots for a trek on the famous Cup and Saucer Trail. Make the short, but steep trek at sunrise, to a spectacular overlook. The trailhead is located 18km west of Little Current at the junction of Highway 540 and Bidwell Road.


  1. Wow so many new places to add to my photo bucket list!!!!! Thanks Ethen!!!!!

  2. Anonymous2:43 PM

    Fantastic list, I have been to a few but looking forward to heading to the ones I haven't!

  3. Anonymous2:44 PM

    Beautiful shots!

  4. Don Rycroft11:04 PM

    Ethan, I agree with your assessment of numerous places around Georgian Bay. One additional remote spot is the Bustard Islands. Remote, rugged and the interior can be sheltered when winds sweep in on them. Classic white pines windswept and bent.

  5. Wonderfull shots! You are an artist! Congrats!

  6. Love your photos, just became a new follower!!! Look forward to many future visits!!
    Chris :o)

  7. Gorgeous pictures. Really cool!

  8. I like the pictures very much, especially the depth that they have.