ONTARIO PROVINCIAL PARKS – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY – Part One

Algonquin Canada Goose with baby - Copy_037

See the little Canada Goose above is saying “come read her Blog, come read her Blog” or maybe not……………

Anyways………………… I have been asked about our experiences in Ontario Provincial Parks and which ones we like, recommend, etc.  We have been to, and/or, stayed at well over 60, maybe more.  I have written about a lot of them in different blog posts but thought I would keep them all in one Blog, separated in Parts or you would be here for a week reading this………..

Some I only have the memories in my head.  But here goes………….

ALGONQUIN PARK

MY FAVOURITE…………..BY FAR…………This park was established in 1893 and spans 772300.00 hectares.  I have been going here since I was a kid, it was one of my Mom’s favourite spots.  I still remember hiking a trail with my family, I must have been only 7-8 years old and I was running ahead.  A cow and her calf (moose) were on the trail and it startled me.  I ran back to tell my parents and sister and they didn’t believe me !  Until they walked further up the trail and saw the two moose run off into the woods ! 

As an adult, My husband and I have been coming here regularly for the last 18 plus years now.

For years we were guaranteed tons of wildlife, alongside the highway, along the waterways and deep in the bush.  Now, you are lucky if you see a rabbit moseying through the campground.  Just kidding, we still see a fair bit because we are always out hiking/canoeing and we know where to go.  We are extremely familiar with this Park and all it’s hidden secrets. 

So many people are there, not the campers, just so many day trippers.  Busloads of people, particularly in the fall when the fall colours are out.   And of course the construction, such a lot of it.

This park is known world wide and we have met so many people from the USA and Europe that come to this Park for the wildlife and the experiences that the Park offers.

Along the highway 60 corridor there are eight campgrounds and one Group campground in this park.  Lots of beaches, 14 trails, bike trails, Logging Museum, Visitor Centre, Art Centre, canoeing, stores ………..this park has it all.  And this is only the south end of the park, there is a lot more at the north end of the park.  Most people prefer the Highway 60 corridor, or are more familiar with it.

Clint and I take our trailer and stay from 1-3 weeks at a time, different seasons of the year.  So we generally average 2 – 7 weeks per year in this park.  Well, in the winter, we stay in a motel in Whitney to be honest.  BUT you CAN camp in the park, Mew Lake Campground is open all year round so go for it !

We did a presentation once on Algonquin and I joked that I like to go for three weeks at a time and Clint likes to go for one week at a time.  But we are married so we compromise and go for three weeks at a time !   lol

We did winter camping in our trailer one winter for a few days but honest to God, the mosquitoes were still out and I had too much drink one night and it was cold so we went home.

The campgrounds we like to stay at are Lake of Two River campground or Mew Lake campground.  I do prefer Mew Lake, the sites are a little more private and they are close to the Old Airfield and the trail to the Cascades.  Lake of Two Rivers is more open but you can access a lot of waterway from this lake; Madawaska River, Pog Lake, Whitefish Lake, and more.  We have not stayed at Canisbay campground but it is also a very nice campground, particularly in the autumn.  The fall foliage is truly unbelievable, one of the many reasons this Park is so popular in the autumn.

We used to do a lot of back country camping, spending a week to 10 days at least once a year in this park.  There is more than 2,000 kilometres of canoe routes and over 1,900 campsites in the back country.   Also, Algonquin has three backpacking trails which also take you into the heart of the backcountry.   So you see what I mean, this is a BIG park and a TON of stuff to do.

Last year (2018) we did a back country canoe trip from Smoke Lake into Ragged Lake and then Parkside Bay.  Great trip, except for the rain !  We were supposed to continue to Big Porcupine Lake but honestly the rain was brutal.

We have seen so much wildlife in this park, moose, bears, fox, beavers, raccoons, loons, egrets, herons, deer, owls, muskrat, turkey vultures, all kinds of ducks and birds, just a ton of wildlife and waterfowl.  We have always been fortunate to see so much.  We have friends who have been going to the park almost as long as we have and have never seen a bear.  We have been followed by bears, followed by moose, held hostage on trails by moose and so many other stories.

Pros – over 2100 km of canoe routes, endless number of lakes (over 2000 I believe), wildlife sightings, bike trails, 14 walking trails, Art Gallery, Visitor Centre, Logging Museum, Campgrounds Galore, stores, restaurants, equipment rentals.

Cons – PEOPLE, tons and tons of people…………..’nuff said.  And quite often construction on highway 60 is annoying to say the least……..

GRUNDY PROVINCIAL PARK

My 2nd Favourite Park !   We have been here a few times.  This park is 3614.00 hectares, established in 1959 and located south of Sudbury, Ontario.   I love this park.  Not anywhere near the size of Algonquin Park but still a great place to spend a week or two.

Grundy Provincial Park has three hiking trails, a bunch of lakes to paddle and some wildlife.  The beaches are terrific, they have at least 1/2 dozen and also a great dog beach!

We have heard of bears in the area but have yet to see one.  We have photographed otters, pileated woodpeckers, raccoons, beavers, deer and other wildlife.

Much of the Canadian Shield dominates the landscape which makes it great for hiking.  There are nine campgrounds and one Group campground, all have different aspects to consider.  Some are radio free/pet free, some are a little more private, or closer to the beaches.  Lots of choices and no choice would be wrong.  They have 9 back country sites as well.  These would be great if you have small children or you want an introduction to this form of camping. 

Grundy does have a small store and you can rent paddle boards, kayaks and canoes at this park.

Pros –  a few trails but you can walk anywhere with no issues, also no bike trails but the park roads are great to bike on, great beaches and lots of lakes to paddle. Beautiful scenery.

Cons – Trailer Campground in particular is quite noisy. Wardens do absolutely nothing to address the endless barking dogs and the late night parties at Trailer campground. But there are other campground choices. So probably stay out of Trailer Campground! Finally, you are not close to any towns of any size when you are at this park so be sure to pack everything you need.

Having said that, this is definitely I park I will return to.

So this wraps up my two favourite Ontario Provincial Parks until the next installment.

 

 

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