Awenda Provincial Park Review

Review Date: October 2013

General Information / Location
Awenda Provincial Park is located on the shores of Georgian Bay, near Midland or Penetanguishene.  I’ve drivin into, and through Midland and Penetang a few times, and really enojoyed it.  They are nice little towns.  We visited this park during October, and the tree’s are just ready to change color.  It was amazing.  Some trees were Yellow, some were Orange, and some were still bright green.
P.O. Box 5004, 670 Concession 18 East
Penetanguishene, ON, ON, L9M 2G2
Click here to reserve, or view campsites

 


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Entry / Layout

AW.Overview

Once you get to the park boundry, their is a lengthy road throughout the park before the front off.  It’s a really nice drive.  The forest is thick, plentiful, and it completely surrounds the road.  All roads in this park are like they are carved through the forest.  Once you get to the front office,  the road continues to the camp grounds.

Awenda is divided into 6 camp grounds.  Have a look at the above picture for their names.  None of the campgrounds are on Georgian Bay, but are within walking distance.  Between the campsites, and Georgian Bay is a VERY steep bluff.  Each campground has their own bathroom, with showers and flush toilets.  They each also contain vault toilets, which some of them are pretty unique.  They looks new, and clean, and look like small little wood shacks.  There are also trails all over connecting the sites, and the bathrooms, etc.  The Bluff trail connects all campgrounds together.  Really easy to get around to all campsites.  Each campground has a large overflow parking spot, again with trails to the campsites.  It all seems really thought out, and organized.  There are 4 different beaches, which are also unique (explained below).

IMG_0621 IMG_0622 IMG_0623 IMG_0624 IMG_0639

General Discussion

We camped in Wolf cam pground.  I liked it there.  The forest is really thick there, and tree’s have a bright green color.  The thick forest makes most of the sites fairly private.  If you can position your trailer so the back side is parallel to the road, your site is a whole lot more private.  Here’s the thing about Wolf Camp ground.  The sites all have a small driveway, that are angled 45 degrees from the road.  This makes it a whole lot easier to back a trailer into the site.  If you have a large trailer, this is the camp ground for you.

Wolf camp ground also has a trail running through it, connect a few other camp grounds.  It has a central bathroom, with a large field behind it where the kids can play.  Wolf camp ground is also the closest to the water, however, it’s kinda a moot point because you can’t really walk there anyway.

One thing I did notice about Wolf, is that the road is paved.  Anytime a road is paved, it encourages drivers to drive faster.  In certain areas, some cars would drive by fairly quick.

I did check out Snake, and Deer, and they are similar to Wolf.  The problem is, they are not hydro, so I didn’t spend much time there.  The weather wasn’t the greatest when I was here, and also didn’t have time to view Bear, Turtle or Hawk.

There is a trail that goes to the beach, or a road which has ample parking.  Once down at the beach area, there are 2 beaches that are accessible right by the parking lot.  The beach consists of some sand, and large boulders.  The view is great!  There is also a beach trail, that brings you to 2 more remote beaches.  I really liked beach number 4, which is a couple km’s down the path.  The floor is sand, surrounded by boulders, which is really unique.

There are 5 different trails at Awenda Park.  One trail goes around, and through the whole park.  It connects all the sites, and camp grounds.  I biked on part of this trail, and encourage you to take the whole trail.  The trail is well groomed, and great for a family bike ride.  I suggest going around it clockwise.  Another trails starts at beach 1, and goes all the way to beach 4.  I strongly suggest this trail!.  There is also a beaver dam trail down by the beach that winds through a stream, and small pond.  This is a great trail to walk, as it only takes a few minutes.  Another trail goes around a lake (I didn’t go on this trail).  There is also a walking trail, that visits a few old foundations, and farms, and goes to the bluff.  Umm.., I don’t suggest this trail.  It’s kinda boring, and ends abruptly with NO few of the water.  If you want to hike, then take it, but it’s fairly uneventful.

The road in and out of Awenda

The road in and out of Awenda

Beach #4

Beach #4

Beach #4

Beach #4

Beach #4

Beach #4

Beach #4

Beach #4

Beach #4

Beach #4

IMG_0755

Beach Trail

Beach Trail

IMG_0751

Beaver Pond Trail

Beaver Pond Trail

Beaver Pond Trail

Beaver Pond Trail

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

Beach area 1-2

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One of the hiking trails

One of the hiking trails

One of the hiking trails

One of the hiking trails

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Main bathroom

Main bathroom

Best Campsites

I didn’t really collect a list.  If you have a trailer, back it into position, so it’s parallel with the road.  You then get a site that’s really private.   Most of the campsites in Wolf are private.  I would suggest camping far away from the bathroom, as the field behind it is filled with children, and the noise really echo’s through the park.

Pro’s

– Thick forest

– Lots of trails, and activities

– Water access is really unique, and nice

– Very organized camp grounds, and very clean

Con’s

– Drive to the beach

– Paved roads cause cars to drive faster

Should I camp here?

Heck Yes! One of my new favorite parks!  They really spent time organizing this park, and it shows!  Lots of trails connecting the park, and they are all groomed well.  I really like the thick forest, and bright green trees.  I really liked the water areas (I didn’t say beaches because of how rocky they are).

Wheatley Provincial Park Review

Review Date: August 2013

General Information / Location
Wheatley Provincial Park is located on Lake Erie, near Leamington, Ontario. For me, it’s a quick drive down highway 401. It’s also really close to Point Pelee National Park.

Wheatley Provincial Park
Box 640
Wheatley, Ontario
N0P 2P0
519-825-4659

Click here to reserve, or view campsites


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Entry / LayoutWH.Overview

After a short trip from highway 401, and after going through the small town of Wheatley, you enter Wheatley Provincial Park. The park has 4 different areas. Boosey, Highlands, Middle Creek, Two Creeks. Each one has their own comfort station, and amenities. The campsites seem to center around the creeks. Each one is equal distance of a walk to the beach.

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General Discussion

When I think of a provincial park that’s close to the great lakes, I don’t think it’s a “Forest” park.  I think of it more as a “beach” park.  Lots of sand, open sites, etc, etc.  Wheatley is a combination of a beach park, and a forest park.  Just driving into the park is neat, because you are driving through huge trees.  Yes, there are some open campgrounds, but alot of them have alot of tree cover.

We stayed in Middle Creek Campground, and we liked it.  We found a nice site on the inside of the road, with a lot of tree’s and shade.  Their aren’t tons of private sites here, it’s really a hit and miss.  Some sites have great tree cover, and other sites have alot of bushes instead of tree.  Highlands, Middle Creek, and Two Creeks are all basically the same as far as quality, and privacy goes.  I didn’t make my way over to Boosey at all, so can’t comment on those sites.  All sites seem to be fairly flat, which is good for trailers.  When I first tried to pick a campsite, I wanted one beside the creek, as thought it would give a good view of the water, etc.  Well, the creek is barely a creek, and more of a very weedy swamp.  Unless you have a canoe, their really no point in getting a site along the creek.  Of course, this is just my opinion.  From what I could tell from walking the road, theirs not much water in those creeks.

MOSQUITOS!  They are bad!  Mosquito’s breed in standing water, and theirs plenty of that with the creeks nearby.  Their were mosquito’s out ALL DAY, and not just in the evening.  Also, whenever I was at the beach, their were bugs that bit.  No idea what kind of bugs those were.

The beach is terrible.  It’s mostly small pebbles, and not much sand.  Getting into the water is tricky because of a steep drop-off, and the bottom is mainly rocks.  However, the parking lot for the beach is right at the beach, so it’s kinda neat you can have your car so close.  Their is also a steep cliff you have to walk down to get to the beach, but their are pathways provided.  I would suggest going down to the very end, and park near the circle.  The cliff height drops off, and theirs alot more sand there.

There is a comfort station in each campground, with flush toilets, and showers.  There are also a few vault toilets around.

I believe their are a few hiking trails, you can find these in the camp magazine.  These trails aren’t amazing, more of just a path around the creek.

There are a few picnic shelters around, with BBQ’s, so it might be worth coming for a day, and enjoying the view of the lake.

IMG_2463 IMG_2466

Best Campsites

Pro’s

– Tree’s, and beach in the same campground. (However, not the greatest beach)

– Clean park, and walking across the bridge across the creek is neat

Con’s

– Beach is terrible

– Mosquito’s everywhere

Surround Area Activities

Conclusion

I think it’s worth going to this park once or twice.  It’s nowhere near my favorite park, but it’s worth coming here.  I enjoyed the bridge across the creeks, and enjoyed some of the larger trees.  It’s not a spot where you’d sit at the beach all day, but it’s cool to walk around, and check out the creeks, and the views of the lake.

Sturgeon Bay Provincial Park Review

Review Date: June 2013

General Information / Location
Sturgeon Bay Provincial Park is located about 30 minutes north of Parry Sound.  It’s directly off of Highway 69, and located on Sturgeon Bay.   The park is located on one of the bays on the lake.

Sturgeon Bay Provincial Park
P.O. Box 271
Point au Baril, Ontario
P0G 1K0
705-366-2521
Click here to reserve, or view campsites


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Entry / Layout

ST.Campground

Once you get off Highway 400, it’s a fairly quick drive to get to the park entry.  The park only has 1 area, and it’s a fairly small park.  Unless I missed it, I didn’t see a bathroom with running water, but there are vault toilets.  There is a beach in the park which is nice.  There’s also a boat ramp, and parking for your truck and trailer.

General Discussion

 

The atmosphere when entering the park was kinda neat.  Can’t really explain it, but it felt really cozy and rustic.  After the front gate, that’s about where the excitement stopped.  The rest of the park seemed really “Homemade”.  The sites were small, and unused.  There was 2 foot long grass growing in most of them.

I didn’t see any flush toilets, or showers.  There are alot of vault toilets around.

I guess the beach is a nice addition, but I generally don’t enjoy beaches unless it’s on a large, “great” lake.

There is no hiking here, there are no trails here.

I think the only reason to stop at this park, is if you’re into fishing (and you brought a boat), or your stopping over for a night.  There is just nothing to do here.  I think Sturgeon Bay is great for fishing, so bring your boat, put it in the water, and enjoy your fishing, then back to the campsite for the night, and repeat.  We stopped here just to sleep for a night, then left in the morning.

One thing I noticed is the black flies were TERRIBLE!  The next day we drove to Killarney and there were NO blackflies.  So not sure why they are so bad here.

Best Campsites

The only site I would suggest is Site 6.  It’s near the water, and you have your own rock to sit on, and enjoy the water.   However, there is a marina right there, so the view isn’t amazing.

The other sites are just MEH.  Site #8 is small, and you can’t even view the water from your site.

Pro’s

– Beach

– Boat Ramp

– Boat and fisher friendly

Con’s

– Small

– There’s just nothing to do

– No running toilets

Conclusion

We just use this park as a stop over, as it’s right on the highway.  That’s about it.

Killarney Provincial Park Review

Review Date: We are camping here THIS WEEKEND! I’ll complete review shortly after (June 2013)

General Information / Location

Killarney Provincial Park is located about 60kms off highway 400/69. It borders Georgian Bay, and is full of great hiking trails, and canoeing adventures! I like this area because of the rocky and hilly landscape.

Killarney Provincial Park
Killarney, Ontario
P0M 2A0
705-287-2900

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Entry / Layout

KI.Overview
When travelling north, south on Highway 400, and you see the Killarney exit signs….. don’t get to excited yet.  It’s still a 57km drive on highway 637 to get to the front gates of Killarney.  However, the road is decent, and it’s a nice drive through the forest!  Also, be on the lookout for animals!  We saw a large black bear, 2 deer, and a fox.  The red fox actually lives in the campground, and you’ll see it walking around from time to time.

Right off the highway is the front gates and front office.  The front office also has a small gift shop / supplies shop.  I found it neat to walk around, and look at the displays that are setup.  There is also a Fox that likes to walk around the front office area. You also sometimes see it walking through the park.  Once past the front gates, the park is split up into 3 sections.   George Lake A, George Lake B & C, George Lake D.  I believe there is one main bathroom, with flush toilets, and showers, and there are plenty of vault type toilets scattered throughout the park.  There are 2 beaches, one on George Lake A, and the other on George Lake D.

Highway 400 exit sign

Highway 400 exit sign

Sign at front gates

Sign at front gates

Parking lot at front gates

Parking lot at front gates

Main office

Main office

Driveway leading to park

Driveway leading to park

General Discussion

We stayed at the George Lake A campground, in site 29.  If your staying in this part of the park, stick to the sites along the river, and not near the parking lot.  The sites along the river are spaced out nicely, and all fairly private.  You really feel like your camping in the middle of the bush here.  There are 3 vault toilets along the river.  The only issue is that you are fairly far away from the Flush toilets, and the garbage bins, but I didn’t mind as you are also away from all the noise.  There is a turn-around spot at the end of this road, so if you have a truck and trailer, you should be able to turn around.  I have a RAM with a 20′ trailer and was able to turn around without troubles.

I didn’t view all the sites in George Lake B & C.  From what I remember, the sites are closer together, and less private.  Maybe because the bush didn’t seem as thick?  However, this campground is alot closer to the flush toilets, which might be nice for some.

I didn’t go into George Lake D at all, so can’t really comment on this section.  I believe these sites are mostly tent sites.

As I said above, there is only 1 full featured bathroom, and lots of vault toilets around the campgrounds.

There are 2 beaches.  The one I did go to is at George Lake A.  For a small lake, the beach is pretty good.  There is also a roped off swimming area.  This also seems to be the main entry into the back hills of Killarney.  Meaning, alot of people are using this beach to begin their canoe trip.  You’ll also see alot of people coming back on Sunday’s, etc.  I believe the beach at George Lake D has a boat ramp. (Or a canoe ramp?)

The park suggests that you bring any garbage to the garbage containers every night.  If you don’t, the raccoons seem to not be afraid to come right in, and steal anything.  Even if you’re sitting at the campfire.

In order to rent a canoe, check the Killarney magazine, and it offers 3 different outfitters for canoes.  You simple call them, give them your credit card, and they supply you with the combination to the lock on a specific canoe.  The one I called was $28 per day.  The canoe trip was the highlight of our trip.  We paddled along the outside of the lake, and once you get to the other side, the cliffs are AMAZING.  There is even one spot where the cliff hangs over you.  Canoeing this lake is a must!

The hiking here is AMAZING!  So amazing, I’ve created it’s own category below.  I’ll describe the trails that we went on, and provide some pictures.  First, see some pictures below of Killarney Park.

View of lake from George Lake A

View of lake from George Lake A

Campsite in George Lake A

Campsite in George Lake A

Site 29

Site 29

Campsite in George Lake A

Campsite in George Lake A

Road following river

Road following river

Campsite

Campsite

Pathway to trail

Pathway to trail

George Lake

George Lake

George Lake

George Lake

George Lake

George Lake

Hiking Trails

Here, I will describe the trails that I hiked on.  I don’t have pictures handy right now, but will add them eventually.  You can see a brief description of all the trails in the park HERE

1) Chikanishing Trail – I suggest taking this trail first.  It only takes 1 – 1.5 hours.  It’s a loop trail.  It follows a river out to Georgian Bay, and brings you a-top large rocks, overlooking the river, and Georgian Bay.  Once you see the view of Georgian Bay, you gasp at how incredible it is.  We walked right to the lake, and went for a quick swim. IT WAS COLD!  On the way back, it winds through the forest, and eventually back to where you started.  This trail is fairly easy, and gives you a good idea of what hiking is like up in Killarney

2) Granite Ridge Trail – I also suggest taking this trail.  Do it at the same time as the above trail.  It brings you out to an incredible cliff, overlooking the Provincial Park.  We sat on this cliff for a long time, just taking in the great views. Here’s a video:

3) The Crack – This is the trail you’ve been practising for.  It’s a must!  I would suggest starting sometime in the morning, having lunch atop the mountain, then start the treck back down.  Bring lots of snacks, and a lunch.  The trail is fairly easy, but it’s long.  There are a few sections where you’re climbing, which can get tiring.  The view atop the final destination, is incredible!  Once up there, take an hour or two, and soak it all in. Relax, and rest.

4) Bike Path – This is a fairly short path that starts near site 30, and goes to the highway. Here’s a video of it:

Best Campsites

– I would say that any campsite along the river are fairly good.  Sites 18 – 30.  I would also say site 63 is pretty good.  It’s got a nice spot you can walk out and see the water.

Pro’s

– Hiking!  If you want to hike, and explore, this park is awesome for that!

– When camping, you really feel like your in the middle of the bush.  Camping in a real remote area (which you kinda are).

– The park is really quiet.

Con’s

– You need to watch out for bears, and throwout your garbage every night.  Which is kinda neat cause I love seeing bears!

– It’s a treck to get there

Conclusion

I really liked this park because it was really quiet.  The sites along 18-30 are spaced out, and give you alot of room.  I love being up north, and seeing all these wild animals.  All the hiking up there is amazing.  Go out and hike all day, come back and relax at your campsite.

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.