A Cold Morning in Presquile Provincial Park

Our weather has been pretty good so far. Tuesday (15 December) was supposed to be a nice sunny day albeit cold so we decided to head out early in the morning to Presquile Provincial Park which is about a 30-40 minute drive for us. The park is right on Lake Ontario (part of the Great Lakes) and therefore a lot colder than the temperatures indicated, good thing we were bundled up. We were in the Park by 730 and right away saw a small herd of turkeys! I do love wild turkeys and not to eat. They are pretty awesome and honestly quite big.

There was probably 8-9 turkeys in their little herd. They were running around a field, probably trying to get warm.

As we continued on we spotted a couple of deer including a fawn. He was getting big but you could still see the size difference. Here are a couple of photos of the deer that we saw.

I took this photo in colour and when I got home, I did a copy in Black and White. I don’t think I am as fond of animals done in Black & White (unless it’s a zebra lol) as I am of landscapes and old buildings done in Black and White. But here goes…………..

We did do a hike, not long, couple of kilometres. It was a nice trail and we were on a hunt for an owl but we didn’t see him. It wasn’t as cold in the forest but walking was interesting as the ground was all frozen and crunchy.

Trail

All in all a nice morning and as we go there quite a bit, I know we will head back again.

Lake Ontario early in the morning

Stay Safe Everyone

Silent Lake Provincial Park – September 2020

This is an extremely hilly park, they even have signs in certain spots stating No Trailers Allowed ! Silent Lake is not a very big park, maybe 1610 hectares and has only two campgrounds. They also have some walk-in sites. Our site was okay but none of them look to very level and no privacy really if you want that.

The main gate which is also where the Sanitation Station is, kinda odd………

We spent a few hours paddling around Silent Lake, not a big lake maybe 2.5 km in length and no motor boats allowed, which I like. The fall colours on this lake were really nice, lots of reds and oranges.

Silent Lake

We saw another Loon with a young one, I feel like the Loons had their young very late this year.

You used to be able to access two other lakes by portage (Quiet and Soft Lakes) but when we went this year, the Warden told me that you aren’t allowed to canoe in either of these lakes anymore. She said something about sensitive environments. But Silent Lake is nice to paddle so that’s okay with us.

They only have three trails, we did two of them. We did the 1.5 km Lakehead Loop Trail following the lakeshore and Bonnie’s Pond Trail, a 3 km walk through a forest and past a large beaver pond. Bonnie’s Pond was named after a workhorse who drowned while dragging logs over the ice on the pond. Kinda sad.

Their last trail, Lakeshore Trail, is 15 km and takes you around the perimeter of Silent Lake. Had we stayed one more night we probably would have done it.

They also have a Bike Trail, which we didn’t do, they have a two loop trails – 11 km and 17 km; the 11 km is moderately difficult and the 17 km is difficult.

All in all, it was a nice park, not much to do but we still enjoyed it and really enjoyed the canoeing. We may be back.

Off to Algonquin for 2 1/2 weeks now !


Bon Echo Provincial Park – September 2020

Bon Echo is up there in my top 10 favourite Ontario Parks. They have two large campgrounds and back country camping. Mazinaw Campground has 3 loops; Midway, Fairway and Sawmill Bay. The second campground is Hardwood which is on the other side of the park and is a semi-wilderness spot for tents and tent trailers.

We have been to Bon Echo a number of times and also just for day trips. They have quite a lot to do here, more than many other Ontario Parks.

Trum entertaining the chipmunks. My husband says this is #alcoholinducedfun

I love campfires and even if it’s cold, I bundle up and keep a blanket handy.

We like to canoe in Mazinaw Lake and Bon Echo Lake and you can also drive to the other end of the park and do a 500 m portage to paddle in Joeperry Lake and Pearson Lake. The trail to the lake from the parking lot is a nice trail. Clint takes his camera gear and canoe and I take the rest.

Map of the lakes

A nice canoe launch awaits at the end of the trail at Joeperry Lake, paddle north and around the point then head south and you can get into Pearson Lake, depending on water levels.

We saw some loons, a mom feeding her young one.

Adult Loon
And they are off to find a new feeding ground

Young Loon

We also spotted a heron on the shores of JoePerry Lake. I love watching the herons.

Some views of JoePerry and Pearson Lakes.

Just some information for those that they be interested…………they have one big canoe route, Kishkebus Canoe route which is about 21 kms as well as a few portages, one of them being 1.5 km. We did not do that trip this time.

Bon Echo Lake is a cute little lake to paddle and there are a few cabins there for rent also. The cabins seem pretty nice, probably pretty pricey to rent.

We parked the truck and put our canoe in, just to the left of the put in was a small river going behind us to a small pond.

We did spot a heron in the pond, which you can walk to from where we parked, but he was pretty far away.

It’s a really nice little lake to paddle, picturesque. Below is Bon Echo Lake.

They have some trails and we have, over the years, done all except for the two longest Abes and Essens Trails. There are walk in sites on the longer loops of this trail. The loops are 3.5 km, 9.6 km and 17 kms. We normally take our time, we are looking at things, taking photos, enjoying nature. Near the end of the trail, I could feel somebody right behind me, it startled me When I turned around it was a young guy and I said “Oh you should have said something, I didn’t know you were there” I let him pass and we heard him say ” Well you people walk so slow” hahaha yes but we probably see things you don’t is what I was thinking!

It was a pretty nice trail but lots of steep hills. A guy and his son were portaging their canoe and fishing equipment as they heard there was good fishing on a lake on the trail. He’s a brave one, he had an old heavy canoe probably weighing 80+ pounds. Our canoe is an Ultra Light and weighs 44 pounds. We didn’t envy him. As you can see below, quite a bumpy trail!

Clint enjoyed the walk and there was lots to see.

Bon Echo Creek Trail is only about a 1 km and follows along Bon Echo Creek; High Pines Trail is a little less than 2 kms through the forest; Shield Trail is about 4.8 km through the forest and past a beaver swamp; Pet Exercise Trail is an off leash 1.4 km trail. They also have a terrific Dog Beach for your furry family members.

Bon Echo Creek Trail follows the river. You can paddle this, it’s quite nice.

River

Dog Beach was pretty great, one of the better dog beaches we have seen in Ontario Parks. We sat for a bit and watched the dogs playing.

Dog Beach

High Pines Trail was not too long and we saw a snake !

The trail was pretty open which is kind of cool, you can see so far.

The other trail is the Cliff Top Trail which is about 1.5 km and you have to paddle or take a ferry service (called the Mugwump) across the lake to get to it. You take a pathway and stairs to the top of Mazinaw Rock overlooking the lake. It’s hard to spot but right above the kind of reddish tree in the middle of the photo below you can sort of spot a small wooden structure. That is the viewpoint spot. I took this shot from the lagoon.

The lagoon is where you can rent canoes, paddleboards etc and catch the Mugwump Ferry when it is working. It was closed this summer due to COVID.

Just a few miscellaneous photos I took around the park plus another view of Mazinaw Rock.

Woodpecker

I love this wasp on the yellow flowers.

Wasp having lunch
Another view of Mazinaw Rock

There are other things to do in this area if you run out of things to do in the Park. We drove to the Lower Madawaska Provincial Park Reserve about 40 kms from Bon Echo. There are some really bumpy side roads here and you can drive so far and then have to park and walk to different areas. We went to Crooked Rapids, Slate Falls, Buck Bay and Aumonds Bay. Some really nice spots and we love to explore new places. I think they have about 36 back country sites for camping. This is a really pretty area.

We made a stop at the Irvin Lake airstrip, pretty cool, no buildings left just the old runway. The road to get there was pretty bad but we have an off road truck so no problem for us. This is Crown Land so you can camp here if you want.

Old Airstrip

It’s funny the things you find in the middle of nowhere. We spotted this hanging off a tree, Clint spent an hour looking for the owner, he said it was his civic duty. lol

We drove to the Skootamatta Dam which was a long drive down a back road and hydro access road but we couldn’t get access to the dam. Then we tried to get to Sheldrake Lake Dam Road but couldn’t get there either! Usually these roads are gated up. We did stop at Skootamatta Lake and it was very pretty with little islands all along the shoreline.

Marble Rapids was also pretty and if you are doing the big Kishkebus Canoe route, one of the portages is here. On to Semi Circle Lake for a look and this is also part of this portage.

So to wrap up, this is a park I would recommend, we will definitely, at some point, return to this one. As I mentioned, it is not a long drive to do day trips from where we live so we may get there again in the next couple of months.

Off to Silent Lake Provincial Park now……………….

Sharbot Lake Provincial Park – September 2020

Sharbot Lake Provincial Park was not a park I enjoyed. I don’t even really have any particular reasons why, you know sometimes you just don’t feel comfortable? My husband thought the park was unique and enjoyed his stay. They only have about 150 sites in this park and this park is very long and spread out. Sites are very open and not private and the campground is tiered in some areas. So from our site, we could see straight down to some other sites along the water. Kind of hard to explain, but this park is very hilly.

Sharbot Lake Provincial Park

Covid barriers 😦

You can paddle on Black Lake or Sharbot Lake, a short portage connects the two. We did not do any paddling here, we were only here 2 nights and spent our time doing other things.

There are only two trails, we did the Discovery Trail which is a little less than 2 km. Lots of up and down with some steep hills. A nice trail and you walk by, and can see, both the lakes.

Nice Beach

They have one other 0.5 km trail so not too much to do in this park. They do have a Beach and a Dog Beach; the Dog Beach is at the other end of the park, so quite a walk depending on where you are camping.

Silver Lake Provincial Park is not too far from this park, they have about 100 sites. We drove there twice and ended up walking on the Marsh Trail which was about 0.5 km along a boardwalk. It goes through a marsh at the east end of Silver Lake. This lake is about 9 km long and is the only lake in the park.

We also took a drive to Hungry Lake Conservation Area, we went down a dirt road to the end where we ran into private property and had to turn around. We stopped at Big Pond and saw a bunch of Cormorants, I love Cormies. We also saw a “herd” of grouse.

Big Pond
I love Cormorants, they are just chilling in the pond

Then on to Palmerston-Canonto Conservation Area, kind of a weird place. All kinds of trails through the woods yet no details or signage. So you had no way of knowing the route, mileage or anything else.

We like to just drive down whatever roads we come across and so we ended up on a bridge near Myers Cave and there was Georgia Lake on one side and Marble Lake on the other. Really cute spot and we did take some photos of a small cascades on the Marble Lake side.

Marble Lake

At Kashwakamak Lake we spotted two tiny islands and someone had built tiny little houses and a tiny lighthouse on it. Super cute. We drove through some other little towns like Ompah on our way back to the park.

Cute little miniatures

We were pretty close to Perth so we drove in to purchase some beer to take back to our trailer. We stopped at Weatherhead Brewery which was situated in an old Wampole Factory (pharmaceuticals), really unique spot and they had some beautiful decor on their walls and some lovely paintings. You weren’t allowed to stay, just purchase beer and leave so that’s just what we did.

We also stopped at Perth Brewery and bought a few cans, same scenario as Weatherhead, you purchased and left.

So there is lots to in the area but I wasn’t too keen on the campground and I likely won’t stay there again.

Murphy’s Point Provincial Park – September 2020

View from across from our campsite at dusk

I really enjoyed this park, we were here once years ago but I definitely will come back. I have a friend, Erin, who reads my blog and I’m not sure if she has been to this park but if not, her boys would enjoy it. Murphy’s Point is a smallish park but with a lot to offer. It is located on Big Rideau Lake which is part of the historic Rideau Waterway.

The park has 2 campgrounds, 3 Group campgrounds and interior camping as well. We had a great site located by Loon Lake. They do have pull through sites, not very level and some of them are two tiered. Our trailer was in the driveway part and we had to walk down a slope to the area where our firepit was.

The Silver Queen Mine was located here and you can still tour where the mine was and see some old buildings. This mine was an early 1900’s mica mine. I had no idea what mica was until I read about it on the Park information boards. Mica are silicate minerals used in a variety of items; drywalls, paints, auto parts, roofing, electronics. Quite interesting to read about it.

They have 5 trails, we did the Silver Queen Mine Trail which intersects with the Beaver Pond Trail, I think about 3.5-4 kms total. On the Silver Queen Trail you can view a restored early 1900s open pit mica mine, all fenced in and some old buildings. You park and start these two trails across the road from the Lally Homestead. I have to say the Beaver Pond Trail was not well maintained; weeds were growing over parts of the trail and due to the Tick issue you would have thought they would keep the trails clear.

Silver Queen Mica Mine

Part of the trail to the old mine area
they had different displays along the trail

We like to canoe so one day we did the Canoe Loop. We put our canoe in on the main beach on Hogg Bay which goes into Big Rideau Lake. We paddled about 2 hours on Big Rideau Lake, hugging the shoreline to look for things to photograph. We did spot a heron and some ducks. This is a very big lake and lots of motorboats but we started early in the morning so it wasn’t very busy.

Paddling Big Rideau Lake

Once we arrived at the portage, which was not long, Clint portaged the canoe and I portaged the rest and off we went into Loon Lake. We spent quite a while in this lake paddling the entire perimeter. It is not a big lake but we really enjoyed it. (No motorboats are allowed on Loon Lake)

We spotted a mom loon and a young one. She was still feeding the young one which we thought was odd as it is late in the year.

So we puttered around this lake and then headed to the portage to go back into Hogg Bay which we also paddled the perimeter. We had a great time doing this and spent most of the morning, because we are slow! We like to look at things and investigate the shoreline. We spotted lots of turtles and deer walking through the forest and even a snake! There are many other places to canoe if you wish to do more paddling.

I also love turtles, pretty much any type of wildlife I love !

The Lally Homestead trail is super easy, about 800 m and you can see the buildings and farm fields as you walk the trail. It is right across from the Silver Queen Mica Mine Trail.

We also walked the MacPharlan Trail which is about 6 kms and you can hike or bike on it. We chose to walk and it’s a very nice trail, wide and with moderate hills. You cross a little bridge to the old buildings which are kind of cool. This takes you past Loon Lake also. The trail ends at the buildings but we continued past the buildings and the trail turns into the Rideau Trail which is a 300 km hiking trail from Kingston to Ottawa. We only went about another km or so and headed back the way we came. Only about 6 km goes through this park.

I think that’s all the trails we did but we also went biking through some of the closed campgrounds and came across deer frolicking around! Two moms and they each had a fawn and then there was third adult just lounging around. We spent an inordinate amount of time photographing and watching them. However, they were deep in the dark bush, mostly behind trees.

One day we drove into Westport, a cute little touristy town by the water. We bought some beer at Westport Brewery and we didn’t mind their Red Ale but my favourite beer is IPA and their IPA was honestly the worse I ever had so that was disappointing.

All in all I really enjoyed Murphys Point Provincial park and would definitely head there again!

Next stop – Off to Sharbot Lake Provincial Park !

Charleston Lake Provincial Park – September 2020

Charleston Lake Provincial Park is a Park set on Charleston Lake, which has 75 km of shoreline. I am not fond of canoeing on big lakes, I prefer smaller lakes, marshes, rivers where I have a better chance of seeing wildlife. However, if you are adventurous, give it a go and they have two other lakes you can portage to: Killenbeck Lake and Redhorse Lake. We only stayed 4 nights here but that was enough for me.

They have 1/2 dozen trails and we walked a couple of trails which were interesting, especially the Sandstone Trail. The Sandstone trail is only 2.6 km but it is a nice walk. The highlight is a rock shelter that was used over 1,000 years ago by Aboriginal peoples.

We also did the Shoreline Trail, 2 km loop which followed the shoreline, hence the name lol.

The Hemlock Ridge Trail, 1.7 km loop was also pretty good, it followed the water for a while and we had to clamber over some big rocks. There are four other trails ranging in length from 2 km to 10 kms long. It rained a lot while we were there and also I had a knee issue, so I was not able to do quite as much as I normally would have done.

They have a cute dog beach and picnic area, we always go and check out the dog beaches! I love to watch their happy faces as they romp in the water lol I can’t find any photos so I guess I didn’t take any which is too bad.

They have three campgrounds, a Group campground and a handful of back country sites. I don’t know why but I probably won’t be back to this park, although I never say never……….My husband enjoyed it.

We did drive into Gananoque one day, this is the Gateway to the 1000 Islands and basically a quaint tourist town. While there, we stopped at Gananoque Brewing Company and picked up some beer. The had an IPA I really liked.

While we were in the town, we parked and walked down to their waterfront. They have a river with a small waterfall at one end and luckily for us, we saw a heron standing in the waterfall. As I have mentioned before, we take our cameras everywhere so we were able to get some shots.

Another day we drove to Dunder Rock Conservation Area which is a 230 acre wilderness area. There are three trails and we did a shorter one, I was having a really bad knee day. The trail we did went through woods and down to water at different spots. I believe we had to pay $10 to get in and park in order to do the trails. Where we live, we purchased an annual pass to do the Conservation areas, the passes and payments are worth it. We enjoy going to different Conservation areas and hiking.

We also stopped at Jones Falls and walked around that area. This is part of the Rideau Canal National Historic Site. Lots of history here and we really enjoyed it. It was raining so one day I would like to go back and explore this area further.

So that’s Charleston Lake, off to Murphy’s Point Provincial Park tomorrow !

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……………

Continue reading “ONTARIO PROVINCIAL PARKS – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY – Part One”