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Blue Mountain
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  THE SCENIC CAVES   

This popular scenic attraction has fascinated visitors for years.  It is a labyrinth of caves formed by the movement of glacial ice situated at the highest point on the Niagara Escarpment near Collingwood. The regular season is open from May to October with all activities available. In the winter there is 22 kilometres of groomed beginner and intermediate trails through the forest for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. They also have a warm-up hut, rustic chalet, change rooms, waxing facility and equipment rentals. This location gives you a stunning view of Collingwood, Georgian Bay and the surrounding area.

During the summer months, you should expect to spend at least two hours there and preferably longer if you want to take in all the other attractions. There is also ample parking that is included in the price of your ticket.

The caves descend hundreds of feet into the limestone cliffs and open into passageways that reveal rock formations from another era, as well as rare and exotic plants.  There are no scheduled tours, but most of the passageways are fairly easy to maneuver as long as you are wearing sturdy shoes, and most of the tougher ones can be avoided.  They have been given different names and have special features. The Natural Refrigerator is so deep and cold that you can find ice and snow there all year long and there is condensation on the walls and ceiling that allows moss to grow. Fat Man’s Misery is only 14 inches (30cm) at it narrowest point and Petun Arch reveals a ravine full of ferns and rocky outcroppings. There is also Bear Cave, Lovers Rest, and Suicide Point and many more. Scenic caves is also the location of the historic village of Souls at Ekarenniondi, home of the Huron in the days of Champlain.  They used the various paths and crevices as fortresses against their enemies.  Nearby was the cabin of Oscotarach who was said to gaze eastward toward the approaching souls and draw away their memories to make the crossing easier. 

        

The price of admission also entitles you to see nature trails, the suspension footbridge, trout pond, the grounds, picnic area and a trout pond.  Mini golf and gemstone mining are all priced separately. 

The most popular additional attraction is probably the suspension bridge.  It is the longest one in Ontario, 126 meters long and 25 meters above the valley and stream and 300 meters above Georgian Bay.  The towers are ll.5 meters high.  On a clear day you can see for miles in all directions and the views are fabulous.  Grip the handrail tightly when you step onto the platform, as it is a very flexible bridge and will move as you walk across it.  You will also want to wander down the wooded trails and admire the various bushes, wildflowers and ferns.  A stop at the trout pond and picnic area will give you and opportunity to relax, have lunch  and get some good snapshots of the ducks, geese and swans that live there.  You may also see rainbow trout, but remember that no fishing is allowed.

 If you feel more adventurous, you may want to phone in advance and book a reservation on a 3-hour Eco Adventure tour.  Each tour group consists of 14 people and 2 qualified instructors.  Throughout the tour your guide will give information about the history of the area.

When your group meets you are introduced to your instructors and they will outfit you with the gear necessary for your adventure.  You then head for the suspension bridge, with its fabulous views and photo opportunities.  Next you take a wagon ride through the forest and learn of the unique ecology of the Niagara Escarpment before taking your treetop walk, where you travel about 600 meters, 40 feet above the ground on 10 inch wide cables and walkways between platform decks close to the treetops.  Return to earth by zipping down on a 300 foot zip-line.  Then you are given an opportunity to explore the caves, nature trails, trout pond, gemstone mining, and the gift shop.

Sources:

http://www.showcaves.com/english/ca/showcaves/Scenic.htm  http://bluemountainchalets.com/scenic_caves.htm http://wikitravel.org/en/Collingwood_(Ontario). http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/North_America/Canada/ http://www.soto.on.ca/lake_huron_and_georgian_bay_coastlines/collingwood.html