Caving in Ontario

by Doug Petican

I've been heavily into caving in Ontario the past couple of months. Ralph Rae and I have been looking and caving up and down the Niagara escarpment. We've found a lot of nice caves, particularly in the Singhampton area. Actually much better than Milton.

The caves at Notawasaga Lookout indeed live up to their description as crevices. They range from garbage filled shallow cracks near the lookout, to 100m deep crevices with lots of big popcorn and small speleothems. One collapsed crevice :( I saw was big enough to drive an 18-wheeler through!

The main cave -- we think it's called Best Cave -- is located downhill from the lookout. You enter it from a rather large and tubular crevice. As you approach the back you can see some breakdown, but closer inspection reveals a path through. Now it starts to get really cold.

At this point the main cave opens up. The sides are on a bit of an angle, but I would say the main room is 15-20m wide, 50m high, and 125m long. As you climb down to the floor of the main room -- safety rope required -- you might hear some of the bats that inhabit the cave. When you reach the bottom you will be able to see such formations as popcorn, 1/4" speleothems and flow stone. The best examples I've ever seen in Ontario.

From here the cave continues on in three directions. The first is an easy walk with a hard climb at the end down into another crevice. The second is a long narrow crevice with a crawl under a rock. The last is nasty bit of work with a crawl over sharp breakdown. At the top left of the main room is smaller room with an entrance to another small crevice. In all parts of the cave solution action has been at work, so it is very cold and wet.

In another cave, I almost missed a really good discovery. I went down into a semi-tight crevice and looked around and saw nothing interesting. As I was about to leave, I was looking at the floor and thought it looked strange. After I cleared the dirt and water away I found the floor was not stone, but rather ice. Since the ice had sublimated away from the stone sides, I was able to estimate the depth as at least 1m! In fact the ice extended into all the small side crevices.

In all there are about 8 crevice caves at Notawasaga and lots of collapsed crevices to explore. North and south of Notawasaga is similar but much less impressive. At Osler Bluffs there is a virtual maze of collapsed crevices that could take a whole day to explore, but not much in the way of real caves. Notawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area has caves similar to the Lookout but smaller.

We are planning to move west towards the Kolpore (Beaver Valley) area with a trip tentatively planned for the 1st weekend in Nov. There a some caves we know the location of, but we will have to scout for the others, particularly in Duncan Crevice Caves P.P. I am thinking that we will stay overnight (Saturday) at the Blue Mountain Auberge. UT Outing Club cabin is out :( as there is a trail building weekend then.

I'm hoping that the caves in the Kolpore area will be good, so I hope to see all interested cavers there. Beginners welcome.

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last updated July 16, 1998