Exploring Ontario’s Provincial Parks & Protected Areas: Duncan Escarpment PNR

Duncan Escarpment Provincial Nature Area (aka Duncan Crevice Caves Provincial Nature Area) can sometimes be a bit tricky to locate.  It is near the Kolapore Uplands Resource Management Area so people sometimes mistake the latter for the former – even though there is a proper sign for Duncan Escarpment PNA (though the signage I have is for the alternate name of Duncan Crevice Caves PNA).  My own University’s Faculty of Environment double alumnus Maria Legault has a great post on Kolapore – Maria’s undergraduate degree is from my home unit (now called the School of Environment, Resources & Sustainability).

The nearby Beaver Valley Lowlands MA and Little Germany MA also are sometimes mistaken for this Provincial Nature Area.  The wonderful Metcalfe Rock is just to the east as well – a great autumn picture is available via Todd Wesley Johnson’s Google Map post. Parking is off the 9th Sideroad (west) just before the junction with the Town of the Blue Mountains-Euphrasia Township Line – just to the east of the Village of Duncan.

The area is as spectacular as you’d expect from the name(s).  I recommend the usual – top notch hiking footwear – and don’t go alone if you’re klutzy – you can indeed get stuck in the crevices. It’s got some ancient eastern white cedar trees that Peter Kelly and Doug Larson catalogued in their 2003 Niagara Escarpment Ancient Tree Atlas Project  – I have NOT included specific pictures here because there are those who will use information to go and wreck things (sad to say).  I will say the 300+ year old trees are generally the scraggly looking ones you’d expect from living on a cliff face and Jarmo Jalava has documented some rather old vegetation (undisturbed) on some of the cliff rims.  You can see what Jarmo found via J.L. Riley, J.V. Jalava and S. Varga. 1996. Ecological Survey of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve. Volume 1: Significant Natural Areas. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Southcentral Region, Peterborough, Ontario. Open File Site Report SR 9601.

The ice age did a real number on this area, hence the reason why the escarpment is so exposed.  The dolomitic base got exposed once the surface shales were sloughed off by the advance and retreat of the Laurentide ice sheet.   My favourite plant here – that I will identify publicly since it is generally not likely to be harvested by plant poachers – is Cypripedium calceolus:

The Bruce Trail runs through here so those doing the whole Bruce journey will definitely want to stop and take this place in for quite awhile.  You can picnic informally but please choose some of the weedier areas; there’s some carpets of orange hawkweed – Pilosella aurantiaca (formerly Hieracium aurantiacum) in drier years where there had been disturbance, for example.

Autumn is a great time to go – for both here and the nearby Metcalfe Rock and surrounding areas!

This entry was posted in Conservation, Exploring Ontario's Parks & Protected Areas

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