I was often in awe of the craftsmanship of many bridges I crossed or admired over time. Some of them are right in the middle of famous cities, probably famous just because of their prodigious bridges, while others are built in the midst of unbelievable places, in the middle of nowhere. Either way, all of them are taking you to some of the most scenic views.
There are several types of bridges, seven in total, including the suspension bridge. Accordingly with Wikipedia, the first modern examples of this type of bridge were built in the early 1800s. But the simple suspension bridges, which lack the vertical suspenders were first built in 1433 by the Buddhist Thangtong Gyalpo, known as the Iron Bridge Maker, who built eight bridges in eastern Bhutan, and by the Incas, from pretty much the same era. Certainly not from that time is the Inca Bridge, a suspended one in Ollantaytambo, Peru that we visited two years ago.
Nowadays, there are few types of modern suspended bridges, using chains, or wire-cables, and Ontario has some of them.
- Scenic Caves Suspension bridge
At 128 metres long, the Scenic Caves Nature bridge is famous not only because of the amazing views of Georgian Bay, but the surrounding forests as well. Watching the stunning valley from 25 m above the ground might give you a feeling of imponderability, and freedom. Only 150 km North from Toronto, Scenic Caves suspension bridge is actually the longest suspended bridge in Southern Ontario.
As the name suggests, there is much more to discover at Scenic Caves, a spectacular setting above Georgian Bay at the highest part of the Niagara Escarpment. With several trails totaling 15 km, and few caves waiting to be explored, this is a nice place to visit during hot summer days, as getting deep into the network of caves and caverns carved millions of years ago by glacial ice can be quite pleasant.
~ visited in August 2008
2. Ranney Gorge Suspension bridge
Located within Ferris Provincial Park grounds, Ranney Gorge suspension bridge stretches for 92 metres above Trent River. Although the park is only seasonal opened, the access to the bridge is open daily year-round, with access from the local streets located on both sides of the river. With an average height of 9 to 10 m, the bridge offers superb views of the Trent River Gorge, and of Ranney Falls.
Only 177 km East from Toronto, this suspension bridge can be quite busy during fall months, as the autumnal foliage marks the change of the season. With over 10 km of trails in the vicinity, one can admire beautiful fall colours and vistas.
Ranney Gorge suspension bridge is part of The Great Trail (Trans-Canada Trail), the longest hiking trail in the world.
~ visited in September 2021
3. French river / William E Small suspension bridge
Located right at the entrance of French River Provincial Park, this snowmobile suspension bridge was built by the French River Voyageurs snowmobile club in 2005. It can carry a large heavy trail grooming machine or over 100 snowmobiles at a time. It is said this bridge is the largest of its kind in the world, at 156 m long, 3.7 m wide, and 27 m high over the French River.
French river holds a national historic significance. Since it served as a major canoe route of the fur trade, this river is the first one to be designated Canadian Heritage River in 1986.
The bridge offers amazing views of the canyon, and the river. For the ones looking for an easy walk in the park, you can follow the trail that leads you to Recollet Falls. Marked as moderate, the trail begins at the Visitor Centre, and follows the edge of the French River Gorge.
~ visited in August 2020
4. White River suspension bridge
Part of Pukaskwa National Park, the White River Suspension bridge is the well-deserved reward after a rather difficult 9+ km hike (one-way from the Visitor Centre) showcasing the pristine ecoregions, including the boreal forest, and the Canadian Shield terrain. The bridge is part of the Coastal Hiking Trail running along the rugged and beautiful coast of Lake Superior, and it’s a superb stop for all backcountry hikers.
Our eager anticipation to see the bridge started once we heard the waters, before we could actually see them; nine kilometers were long enough, but few more pushes got us right at the edge of the bridge. The river and the landscape were very refreshing, energizing us for the return hike.
White river is considered one of the wildest white-water rivers from the region, starting from its source, Saniga Lake. Suspended 23 metres above Chigamiwinigum Falls, you can have a wonderful view of the vigorous and forceful waters from the bridge. You might feel lightheaded, especially after walking so long through the forest, but you can certainly have the bridge for yourself if you are in no rush, and why should you be!
~ visited in August 2021
5. Eagle Canyon suspension bridge
Located only 80 km Northeast from Thunder Bay, Eagle Canyon suspension bridge is Canada’s longest foot suspension bridge at 600 feet (183 m). Eagle Canyon Adventures is a privately owned park, opened seasonal, that offers campgrounds, ziplining, few trails, picnic areas, and endless scenic vistas.
And if one bridge is not enough, there is another, smaller bridge spanning 300 feet long (91 metres). The 2 km trail starting from the entrance is a loop trail, and we chose to walk the shortest bridge first. This would be just a warm up for the next thrill, the longer one.
If you are afraid of heights, then walking at 46 metres above the canyon floor might not be for you. But don’t be afraid, people are nice, giving you space, and walking slowly, a step at a time is the solution, or else, waiting for everybody else to leave, and then you can have the whole bridge for yourself!
~ visited in August 2021