Pinery Provincial Park Review – Riverside

Review Date: May 2013

General Information / Location
PInery Provincial Park is located in Southwestern Ontario, on the shores of Lake Huron. It is a fairly large park, and also fairly popular. It’s my GO-TO park, as it’s one of the closest to me. We usually go here for a weekend at the very start of the season, to make sure our camping gear is all IN-CHECK. This review will focus on the Riverside section of Pinery only.

The Pinery Provincial Park
R.R.# 2
Grand Bend, Ontario
N0M 1T0
(519) 243-2220

Click here to reserve, or view campsites


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Entry / Layout
PI.RiversideO

As you enter Pinery, you are brought right to the main gate where you show your pass, or register for a pass. Each campground inside of the pinery has its own “main” office. After the front office, the road winds through the forest of the pinery, and you eventually navigate to the main store, where it branches off to the individual campsites. Here, we are only going to concentrate on riverside. Once you enter riverside, it’s split into 4 different areas. 1, 2, 3, 4.

Each area inside riverside has 1 bathroom, with showers, and flush toilets.

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This is the front gate.

This is the front gate.

The road into the park, after front gate

The road into the park, after front gate

General Discussion

I think area 4 is the best. There are a number of sites right on the river, and its awesome listening to the birds on the water. Area 4 seems a lot more private as well. There are some sites at the back that are large and private. However, the only reason we go to riverside is because the time of year we go to the piney, riverside is the only campgrounds that’s open. I much prefer burley.

I have to admit, I havn’t gone in area 1,2 or 3.  So I can’t really comment.  From the road, they look really open, and don’t offer much privacy.  Also, there are no spots directly on the river, which IMO, is the only reason to go to riverside.

In area 4, there is a large, bathroom in the center, which has lots of showers, laundry, and bathrooms.  There are also a couple vault toilets in the area.

Riverside is the furthest away from the beach, and its def a drive and park if you want to visit the beach. However, if you get a campsite on the river, swim in the river. 🙂  It’s a real nice drive to the public beach, so not a huge issue.  But, if your going to spend alot of time on the beach, you mise well camp at Burley, or Dunes, as you could just walk to the beach.

There is alot of hiking trails in the park.  Look at the park paper that is handed out at the front deck, and read about all the hiking trails.  Here’s a link to the trails on the Pinery website.  We went on the Carolinian Trail, which had some decent elevation, and boardwalks ontop of hills etc.  It also takes you to a small pond in the middle of the bush.   We also took the Cedar Trail, which takes you to the other side of the river, and gives you a good view from “the other side”.  The is also a bike trail that goes from the main gates, to the camp store, then to the public beach, then back around to the main gate.  It’s  good ride, but half of it is just on the paved road.  I would suggest following the path from the main store to parking lot 8, then turning around and come back.  That path is off the side of the road, on a bike trail through the forest.

Here’s a video of the bike trail.  Will give you an idea of what the trail is like

There are alot of activities to do at this park it seems.  I havn’t actually done any, but I see they have canoe and bike rentals at the main store.  There is also a visitor center that you can visit, and learn about the park, and the ecosystem.

I like to go to Pinery outside of regular camping months.  Example: April, May, September, October.  I find that when you go during the peak months, they seem really strict.  A lot of officers driving around, etc, etc.  I guess it’s a good thing, keeping the hoodlums in check, but it just seems to be over-policed.

One other thing to note.  When this park is full, you know it.  It’s just a BUSY place.  I’ve been to other parks that are FULL, and you’d never know it.  Maybe it’s just the layout of the pinery, with alot of open sites?  Also, when it’s busy, I’ve seen some pretty crazy line-ups at the gates.

Bicycle & Canoe rental at the main store

Bicycle & Canoe rental at the main store

Camp Store

Camp Store

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One of the docks at the camp store

One of the docks at the camp store

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Area 4 bathroom

Area 4 bathroom

Road at area 4

Road at area 4

Area 4 road

Area 4 road

Area 4 road

Area 4 road

Area 4 road

Area 4 road

Area 4 road

Area 4 road

Area 4 road

Area 4 road

Area 4 campsite

Area 4 campsite

Bike trail

Bike trail

Bike trail

Bike trail

Bike trail

Bike trail

Handicapped boardwalk at beach

Handicapped boardwalk at beach

The beach

The beach

The beach

The beach

The river view from campsite

The river view from campsite

The river view from campsite

The river view from campsite

Middle campsites in area 4

Middle campsites in area 4

Pond in Carolinian trail

Pond in Carolinian trail

Carolinian Trail

Carolinian Trail

Carolinian Trail

Carolinian Trail

Carolinian Trail

Carolinian Trail

Carolinian Trail

Carolinian Trail

Carolinian Trail

Carolinian Trail

Carolinian Trail

Carolinian Trail

Best Campsites

I don’t have a list of good campsites, and bad campsites.  However, the sites that back onto the river are really nice.  Depending on which one you get, the views of the river are great.  The campsites in the middle, I would stay away from, as they are really open.  It’s pretty simple, if you can’t get a river view site, book somewhere else.  However, if you must book at Riverside, and can’t get a riverview site, get a site at the very back, on the outside roads, as they are more private.

Pro’s

– Riverview sites are nice!

– The park is really beautiful in April and October

– Main bathroom is large, and clean

Con’s

– When it’s busy, it’s busy.  It feels cramped

– Over-policed

– Alot of sites at Riverside seem really open

Surround Area Activities

Conclusion

I really like this park during the off-season.  This is usually my GO-TO park for testing my trailer before the camping season.  It’s fairly close to home for me, so it’s fairly quick to get up here and camp for a weekend.  I really like the laid back atmosphere during the off-season, but generally don’t camp here during season, as it’s REALLY busy.  We love staying on the Riverview sites, as during the April and May months, there are alot of Waterfowl laying their eggs, etc.

9 thoughts on “Pinery Provincial Park Review – Riverside

  1. Can you please tell me what campsite you were at? We are going to be at riverside area 4 site 728. It seems like a middle site and it says good privacy but the pictures show it is not private at all. We got the last campsite in the park as we reserved late. I have been going there for ever since I was a couple months old. Love the place and your review was awsome. Next time you go try to get riverside area 3 site 349. It is the BEST campsite in the park. The reservation pictures stink but trust me, its the best of the best.

  2. Thank you for your review, it’s really good and helpful This weekend I am going for the first time there we are going to stay in the 593 and 594 riverside campground, do you know how are these sites? Thank you

  3. We spent a Saturday night at Dunes this past weekend – although I have camped at Pinery a number of times in the past. I had to share a little different impression on the busy park action. I was impressed with such a huge park that was completely booked that it did not feel that busy to me. Perhaps we were in a little more private and less travelled area. The campsite was quiet, the beach was busy (warm days) but not crowded, the place obviously had lots of campers but everything I found was very efficient with lots of room for volume. Ice cream (of course) had a healthly lineup but I have never seen a faster scoop happen – and generous portions. 15-20 people served within 5-10 minutes. Tons of rental bikes and canoe/water crafts and again, didn’t see any line ups. I have been in the winter and rented skis to enjoy wonderful XC ski trails. The visitor center here is not my bag – very small with information about the fragile dunes, forests, birds – just not my thing. On the other hand, I love the (longer) bike trail through the forest, and this time being so close to the beach we did not have to pack up the car to drive to the beach, hate that since I am not a sun worshiper and like to come and go for a swim while others bake. I have only hiked the one trail off the visitor center (multiple times) but rather try other trails that have some views (look out?). Next time I think I may try a site along the river as suggested but also as mentioned its a goto place that gets the camping job done – not my personal favourite as I love to camp right on the open water (without huge sand dunes in my way).

  4. Thanks for this great review & pics! I’m so excited to head up there in october. Since you’re an experienced off-season camper here, do you know– are boat rentals still an option in the off season?

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