McCrae Lake Conservation Trail

This trail has been active for a LONG time, and I know I’m late to the game. However, try searching google for information about this trail and you’ll notice that here isn’t alot of information out there.  Now, maybe that’s on purpose?  The less people who know about this trail the better?  I agree, but I think enough people already know about this place and the secret has been out for a long time.

Here’s the description on the McCrae Lake website. “Consisting of 2.8 km of trail one-way, the McCrae Lake Conservation Trail winds its way to the Crow’s Nest Lookout, situated on a 100-foot granite cliff, overlooking the untarnished waters of McCrae Lake.”

See below for the location of the parking lot. The green arrow is where the trail head starts.


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A quick note about parking. Depending on the time of day or year, the parking lot can be really full. When I went on this trail, there wasn’t a spot to park. Cars and trucks were lined up all down this roadway, and parking lot was full. To park, I drove down Georgian Bay Road West, and parked right past the snowmobile entrance, and right before it turned gravel. I’m not sure how legal this is, but it was all that was available.

When you start on the trail, after a hundred or so yards, you’ll come up to a wide snowmobile trail. If you want to stay on the McCrae Lake Trail, you must keep going straight, across the snowmobile trail. If you turn left on the snow trail, you’ll end up back on the road. If you turn right, it will take you down to a large bridge, crossing over a stream (it’s worth checking this out as well. The stream is nice to wade in if it’s hot).

I won’t really describe the trail in detail, mostly because I don’t remember. Some thing to note, is that if it’s been wet out, there will be some wet spots in the trail. Most times, you will see a smaller trail going around the wet spots. There are also some creek crossings, but there have been some small bridges made. The trail is fairly well marked. The only spot in question would be the large rock you walk out on, just make sure you keep right.

After 2.7 kms, the trail brings you to McCrae lake. You are standing 30 meters over the lake, and have spectacular views of the lake. You will see other people canoeing, and camping on the side of the lake. There are also rock climbers that are climbing this 30 meter cliff. When we went on this trail, we had a lunch ontop of this cliff, and enjoyed the scenery.

At this point, you can either hike back to the car, or, keep following the trail along the 30 meter cliff. I’m not exactly sure where it goes from here, but I think it winds around the lake some. You will see paths off to the right that lead down the cliff to the water. This is as far as we hiked, but the trail kept going so if your up for it! Keep hiking.

Below are some pictures.

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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.

Oxford Dodge – Negative Review – Service Dept.

** UPDATE AUGUST 23, 2013 – I won my CAMVAP case, and my Dodge Ram was bought back by Chrysler Canada.  The buyback took place at Oxford Dodge, and the general manager was great to deal with.  Truck went in, with keys and ownership, and I walked out with my cheque.  Oxford Dodge even asked if I needed a ride home.  Went smooth as butter! **

I originally went to Oxford Dodge because a friend suggested them.  My truck was also ordered there by Chrysler Canada for repair.  Before telling my story of what happened at Oxford Dodge, I will do a point form review of the dealership.

  • One of their Service Adviser’s is incredibly grumpy.  His first name is Mike.  He works in the Service lane closest to the dealership.  I advise to stay away from that lane.  He treats you like you are not there, and seems like he hates his job.  More on that below.
  • Shawn Doerr, the service manager, never replied to any of my email.  Maybe it was just me, but every time I sent him an e-mail with updates, no reply. Nothing for days.  I even sent him a detailed e-mail regarding my experience with one of his service adviser’s, and NO reply.  It’s bad customer service.
  • In my case, there was a communication issue between service manager, service advisers, and mechanics.  You told the service adviser one thing, and he would write down a complete different thing on the WO.  I even gave detailed steps in how to reproduce the issue, and that was NEVER communicated to the mechanic, resulting in a front axle being replaced, instead of the transfer case.  I even explained to the service adviser to let me know exactly whats planned to be done, before any work is done.  No call from the service adviser, and during an unexpected trip to the dealer, found my engine in pieces on the shop floor.  Service adviser said “Oh… ya, I thought Shawn was going to call you”.  There is a communication issue here, and it results in the consumer receiving poor service.

** Note – While I do appreciate the original help that Oxford Dodge provided, I don’t appreciate being yelled at on the telephone because I was saying the vehicle wasn’t safe, and that driving it could cause more damage. I don’t appreciate a dealership telling me to go somewhere else because I didn’t buy this truck here. It started out good, and Oxford Dodge did step up to help, but after the truck kept on coming back for repair, (because it wasn’t repaired correctly the first time) is when they got frustrated with it, and took it out on me. **

-The truck is a 2012 Dodge Ram, HEMI, 4X4. It was bought from Dale Wurfel in Strathroy. I have another review of that dealership, and didn’t have a good experience there either.

-I was having engine troubles with the truck from Dale Wurfel, and Chrysler Canada ordered it to Oxford Dodge for repair, because Dale Wurfel decided not to help me. At first, the engine was making a knocking sound.

-So I brought the truck to Oxford Dodge, and was “greeted” by a service advisor named Mike. Wow. I thought he was the grumpiest person I’ve ever met. It was very exhausting dealing with him. I felt that I was treated as a bother, and not wanted. I posted my experience on a local forum that I belong to, and Service Manager Shawn read it. He then called me, and asked that if I ever have a bad experience with any of his staff, to please just let him know, and not to post it in public. So, I sent Shawn an email letting him know how I was treated by Mike. No response. Nothing. He Didn’t bother to reply. I was at least expecting him to say “Thanks for your email. Your concerns are appreciated”. Nope, I guess he didn’t feel a reply was needed.

-After my horrible experience with Mike, Oxford Dodge did inspected the truck, and said the knocking noise was Abnormal. Chrysler Canada then ordered the truck back to Dale Wurfel for repair. Dale Wurfel looked at the truck, and determined where the noise was coming from (engine), but somehow decided not to fix it. Truck was again ordered back to Oxford Dodge.

-Oxford Dodge said they would inspect the truck, and let me know what path they are going to take to fix it. Well, 4 days later I called to find out what the status was, and found out they already started the work, and tore the engine down completely. My engine is in pieces on the work bench. I was a little upset, because I didn’t receive a call before they started all this work. Somehow communicating with me before started the massive engine overhaul didn’t happen. They then replaced 1 piston because they thought it was slightly small.

– After rebuilding the engine, and replacing the piston, I immediately noticed it was knocking again. I took the truck home and also noticed that it now grinds, and clunks when you engage 4H from a stopped position. The brakes were really noisey as well. Squeaking all over the place. I took the below video of the transfer case grinding, and below that, is the engine knocking.

 

– I sent the grinding video, and the fact that the engine is still knocking, and the brakes needs to be cleaned to Oxford Dodge, via email to the service manager. He didn’t reply.   I waited a whole week and nothing. No reply from Shawn. I called Chrysler Canada to find out what’s going on regarding the 4H problem, and the knocking. First, Chrysler Canada authorized Oxford Dodge to replace the block. Second, Chrysler Canada said that Oxford Dodge Service listened to the video of the grinding and told me “Your driving the truck wrong, and your looking for problems. Your manipulating the truck to make these noises“.

-I lost it. I took the truck to Shawn (service manager) so he could listen to the noises in person. He heard the grinding, and banging noise, and said “You shouldn’t be stopped in 2H when your on snow. You should have anticipated that your going to get stuck, and should have already switched to 4H. If your stuck in 2H, it’s too late”. Huh? According to the manual, I can put it in 4H while I’m stopped. While the truck was there, I also brought up the brake squealing Shawn said “I doubt we’ll find anything in the brakes, dust wise”. Then he spent 10 minutes explaining about moisture, and metal on metal. Basically trying to convince me brake squeal is normal. Then he says “I think we have more serious issues to deal with then brake squeal”. At least take the tired off and blow some air in there?

– Eventually, after arguing about it for a long time, they decided to look at the 4×4 problem while they were replacing the engine block. After replacing the shortblock for the engine noise, they found a problem with the 4×4 actuator. They replaced it, and called me to say the truck is all fixed, and tested worked perfectly!

– I picked the truck up, with a new engine block, and fixed 4×4. I immediately tested the 4×4, and it did the same grinding and clunking noise. I thought they said it tested perfectly fine? I immediately brought the truck back, and Service Manage Shawn came out of his office and said “Lets go”, in a very frustrated tone, and started walking to my truck without looking, or talking to me. He was obviously frustrated that I brought it back because it wasn’t fixed. I felt not wanted, and felt like I was being a bother.  I felt that this dealership wanted me to just go away.  Not the type of feeling you want from a Service Department.   After another test drive hearing the noise, he did a few tests, and said bring it back next week, and they will diagnose it. He said “There is definitely still something wrong with the 4×4 system”.

-I brought the truck back the following week, and they called me to say the noise is coming from the front axle, and they are replacing the front axle. Umm, nope. The noise is NOT coming from the front axle, it’s coming from the transfer case. It’s clearly evident the noise is coming from the transfer case (the middle of the truck). Oh well, I let them replace the front axle.

-They replaced the front axle, and Shawn called and said that it didn’t fix the problem, and he still wasn’t happy with how it shifted into 4×4. However, he then said that he tested a 2013 RAM, and it did the same thing. He said that he has the transfer case apart, and found some damage in there. (Ding Ding Ding, told you it was the transfer case) He wants to show me the damage, and why it’s grinding. I told him I wasn’t interested in why it’s grinding. I want the problem fixed, and the damage part replaced. I was also leary about his testing a 2013 RAM, and it doing the same thing, so I test drove one and tried to reproduce the issue. Nope. Didn’t do it. See video below:

 


-The truck sat at Oxford Dodge, and I believe at this time, Oxford Dodge and Chrysler Canada are discussing what to do. They still seem to think the grinding and clunking is normal.

-Shawn called back, and said that he sent some DATA to Chrysler Canada regarding the grinding, and if Chrysler Canada gets back to me, then they will have another look. He wants me to come pickup the truck, and bring the rental car back. I explained to him that I would rather not drive the truck with the damaged transfer case, and am concerned about any metal shavings left behind by the damage. I don’t think it’s safe to drive it right now. Well, this is where Shawn LOST IT! He started shouting, and said “YOU NEED TO START WORKING WITH US HERE“. I said “Working with you? I’ve been patient, and kind for 8 months while you, and Chrysler Canada fix my truck. My truck has been in the shop 80 days out of 160. I AM working with you!”. He didn’t like this, and continued his shouting. He said “This isn’t even our truck, why don’t you go back to Dale Wurfel, we don’t want his truck anymore. I’m done with it”, he then said “Bring me my rental car back, or I will come and get it. We will come get it one way or another“. He was shouting this, loudly. So, here I am telling him I don’t feel safe in the truck with this damage, and want to wait for Chrysler Canada’s ruling, and he’s threatening me that he’s going to come take the rental car back. After this shouting, he hung up the phone.

-I called the General Manager of Oxford Dodge, and he ultimately explained to me why I can’t keep the rental car. He said Oxford Dodge is losing money because of this truck, and that I can’t keep the rental car hostage. He also stood up for Shawn’s shouting, and yelling, saying he’s usually calm, and doesn’t get this way often. He also explained, and wondered why they have this truck here, and said “Dale Wurfel should be stepping up and doing this work”. He also said that I need to treat Oxford Dodge, and Shawn better, or maybe Shawn isn’t going to help me anymore. Basically, he was sticking up for Shawn’s temper-tantrum. He then said to keep the car until Chrysler Canada decides what to do about the grinding. Which is what I mentioned to Shawn previously.

-I also sent an email to the owners of Oxford Dodge, and the general manager explaining my issues, and the trouble i was having trying to get them fixed. I didn’t receive a reply. It’s nice to know, when expressing your concerns, to the owner and general manager, that they care enough to reply.

-Chrysler Canada decided to NOT fix the grinding, and asked me to bring the rental back, and pickup the truck, which I did that same day. I havnt heard from Oxford Dodge since.

-I called Chrysler Canada back 2-3 weeks later and let them know that the engine knocking is back. Chrysler Canada called Oxford Dodge back and requested them to look at the truck. I don’t know who they talked to, but Oxford Dodge declined to see the truck. Chrysler Canada said Oxford Dodge asked NOT to refer myself back to them. Chrysler Canada also called another dealership, and somehow that dealership already knew about my truck, and they also declined to be referred to inspect the truck. So, someone’s been talking about my truck, and now half of my city declines to look at it.

** Conclusion? – Oxford Dodge originally stepped up, when Dale Wurfel wouldn’t. However, it ended badly, when Oxford Dodge got so frustrated seeing this truck, and ultimately took out their frustration on myself. There didn’t seem to be any communication between them, and me. It was always me guessing on what’s happening with my truck. Also, after doing a repair, why not test it thoroughly, instead of me coming to pickup the truck, going home, and coming back 2-3 days later. They even say in the Work Orders that they tested it? It also seems they started replacing parts that never needed to be replaced. The reason behind that, is because they don’t listen to me when I describe the problem. If they would have listened to the thorough details I gave them, they would know how to reproduce the problem, and not have to replace unnecessary components. I will not be returning to Oxford Dodge because of how I was treated at the end, with Shawn (Service Manager). I have also told this story to everyone I can think of at my office. **

Bon Echo Provincial Park Review

Review Date: JULY 2013

General Information / Location
Bon Echo Provincial Park  is located just south east of Algonquin Park.   You are camping beside Mazinaw Lake, one of the deepest lakes in Ontario.

Bon Echo
R.R.1
Cloyne, Ontario
K0H 1K0
613-336-2228

Click here to reserve, or view campsites

 


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Entry / Layout
BE.Overview

I really enjoy the drive up to this park.  It’s on a 2 lane “highway”, running through the hills and the lakes.  Beautiful!  The park is right off highway 41, on the east side.  The park is split into 4 areas.  2 of them, Mazinaw and Hardwood are car camping sites, and the other 2 are back country sites.  I’ll really only talk about Mazinaw here, as that’s where I camped.  Mazinaw is split into 3 different sections.  I didn’t make my way over to 2 of the sections, so I’ll just talk about Sawmill Bay campsites.  Each section inside Mazinaw does have 1 comfort station, and vault toilets spread around.  There are also 2 beaches here, both located near Mazinaw.

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General Discussion

The great thing about this park is obviously the large cliff right across the water.  It’s great to sit on the beach, or a bench, and enjoy the view!   It really is breath taking, and a great reason to come to the park.

Sawmill campsites, sites 103 and above, are the closest to the large cliff.  I suggest getting a site there, as it’s a quick walk to the water, and the views.  The sites a slightly more flat when you’re in the 103+ mark.  The privacy of these sites aren’t amazing.  Actually they are quite poor.  Another thing I noticed is alot of the sites are NOT flat.  They ither have lots of rocks in them, or are on a hill.  Here’s a good example of one of the sites.  Not a flat spot anywhere!

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Just make sure you check the SLOPE level on the ontarioparks website.

Also, sites 51 to 98, the ones on the loop, have a HUGE hill you have to drive over to get to them.  I’m not sure I’d take my truck and trailer up, or down these hills.  Really steep!  They really shoehorn you into this area.  I wouldn’t go elsewhere.

I believe their is only 1 comfort station in all of Sawmill.  It’s fairly close to come campsites, and far from others.  Their are vault toilets you can go to as well.  The main comfort station is fairly busy.  I would avoiding campsites around the station, especially the ones directly beside it.

As I said above, their are 2 beaches here.  I would stay on the beach closest to Sawmill, as it has the view of the rock, and the other doesn’t.  It’s your typical “beach” in the muskokas.  I think they are roped off.  There is also a pet beach near the yurts.

There are some hiking trails, but nothing that really stands out.  One of the trails follows the river, and the other through the bush behind sawmills campsites.  You can take the ferry across the lake, and do the trail up to the top of the cliff.  I’ve heard this is a great view!  Note – Fairly takes cash only, and no dogs allowed.  I’ve also heard of people renting canoes, and going right up to the rock cliff, and read the hieroglyphics.  We didn’t do this, as we didn’t have any cash on us, but I hear it’s great!

According to the Bon Echo magazine, one of the “Top 5 Things To Do At Bon-Echo” is go and see Joe Perry Lake.  MEH!  Don’t bother.  It’s a long drive out there, and a short walk only to see a lake.  A Lake.  Nothing special about it.  Now if you rent a canoe, it might be a neat lake to paddle around.

One thing I suggest is driving, then walking to the narrows.  You get the closest view of the rock cliff.  It’s pretty neat!

It’s a neat park, and definitely a  busy one.  My one issue with this park is the lack of privacy in the sites, and the slope on alot of sites is quite aggressive for trailers.  However, it’s still worth coming here, just to see the rock face, and take a swim in a great lake.

We didn’t get bothered by park officers at all.  I don’t think I saw 1 drive around the whole weekend.

 

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Best Campsites

– Site 135 is really sloped, and hard to put trailer on
– Site 145 has alot of roots on it, but flat
-146 is flat
-145 and 146 are decent, not a lot of privacy
-147 is flat good for trailer, decent privacy
– None of the above are really good, but best you can get here
– Site 158 you park on a hill, and drive into campsite
– Stay away from 159, no flat spot, no parking
-160 is really good tent site. Step up to site. On a big rock. Almost see water
-161 pretty good site, not sure about with a trailer tho, tent site
-There are ALOT of hills here, 162 no privacy, but big site, same with 163 (no privacy), but flat
-104, 103, 102 is on a busy road, stay away from sites on main road
-101, 100 not good, on main road
-The following are cramped together, no privacy, 98, 96, 95, 97, 94 (and right by bathroom)
-After site 94, there is a huge hill going up, not sure i’d take my trailer up it, with low lined branches
-Site 93 and 92 are flat, at top of hill tho
– Site 91, 90, flat, but nothing special
– stay away from 89, no space, and up on hill
– 85 , 84, no privacy, and right on road, 83, 82, 81, 80
– 77 is flat, and 76, not much privacy
– 73 is good, can’t see into site
– 71 is decent, and site 70, but it’s near bathroom, so meh
– Site 69 is decent, not much privacy from behind, but privacy from road, But to get to above sites, you are going up LARGE hills
– 68 is fairly privacy, good tent site
– 67 small but good
– 65 is ok for tent site

60,61 is not really good. alot of sites over look it

55,56,57,58,59 aren’t private
53,54 are more private sites. And right ontop of the hill.
22 really nice site. best in park for privacy, back onto hill
23 is a good site. good trailer site.
25 is a good site.
24,26 stay away from
29 is a good site privacy wise.
33 is decent, but near the main gates. you can see the main gates and the cars drive by
40 is ok if you had to book it
12 is fairly private. but small
Sites 105 and 106, 107 are great sites, but the road behind it can see right into your site. The road behind it is a busy road
131, 134 stay away from.
135 is a decent site. fairly private. not sure how far the road is behind you
137 is a good tent site. fairly private. view of the water and rock. but theres a path right behind you, actually right on the campsite. you can walk right down to water
138 is fairly good.
139 is a good site. nice site. their is alot of elevation, and slope. walk right down to water
140 is a nice site. not too much privacy from behind. really large. you can also walk down to the water
141, 142, 113, 111, 109 no
115 is pretty good.
117 stay away from
116 would be hard to do trailer. you could make it work. it’s a nice site. rock and water view. park trailer at top, lots of room down in site. Big site
118 no
120 no
119 is ok. flat site. 2 entrances, not much privacy
121 right on water, problem is you don’t have much room to park trailer. there is a path to park trailer
122 is a nice site. trailer might be kinda awkward parking it.

Pro’s

– Obviously the large cliff.  It’s really cool to see.

– There are some sites with great views of the lake / cliff.  As well, some sites fairly close to the water.

– It seemed to be a clean, well run park.

Con’s

– Hilly.  Only a few of the sites are flat.

Surrounding Area Activities

Conclusion

I think it’s worth coming here, once, maybe twice.  The views, the lakes, are all great.  Come here just to check it out!  I just didn’t get a sense of privacy here.  To me, it just seems like a touristy type of park.  Come once to see the sights, and move on.

Sandbanks Provincial Park Review

Review Date: July 2013

 

General Information / Location
Sandbanks Provincial Park is located in between Toronto, and Kingston. It’s on the shores of Lake Ontario and is known for it’s Giant sand dunes and golden beaches.

Sandbanks Provincial Park
R.R.#1
Picton, Ontario
K0K 2T0
613-393-3319

Click here to reserve, or view campsites


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Entry / Layout
SB.Overview

Sandbanks is located in Prince Edward county, on Lake Ontario.  It’s not to far down the highway (401), but you have to drive a distance off the highway to get to it.  But the roads have great views of small lakes, and go through some neat towns.  The main gates, or the main park entry, is at the corner of Highway 18 and Highway 11.  The park is split into 4 sections.  Woodland, Richardson’s, Cedars, and Outlet River.  I stayed in Outlet River, and did visit Cedars, and there are 3-4 comfort stations in those areas.  I’m not 100% sure about the other 2 campsites, as I didn’t go in them at all.  There are also TONS of vault toilets.  They seem to be everywhere.  There are also a number of different beaches at the park.  The only beach I was on was the beach facing WEST in Outlet River.  This beach is accesble, and close to most campsites in Outlet River A.  Outlet River B campsites are probably easier to go to the beach on East Lake, but I’m not sure as I didn’t see this beach.  There are also ALOT of parking lots for Day visiters, but that’s more towards the front of the park and not inside Outlet River.

Camp Sign

Camp Sign

Road into main gates

Road into main gates

Main Gates

Main Gates

Visitor Center

Visitor Center

Day Pass parking spots

Day Pass parking spots

Parking spots, dump station

Parking spots, dump station

Road through park

Road through park

Camp Store

Camp Store

General Discussion

So, I stayed in Outlet Campground A.  This campground has a lot of sites within walking distance to the beach.  If you looking to walk to the beach, then get a site in this area.  In my opinion, this is the only campground I would book at.  The others aren’t near the beach, so whats the point of coming here?  (Maybe “Richardson’s Campground” is close to a beach?, looks like it, but I’m not sure cause I never went there).  There are a number of campsites that are ON the beach here, but if you can’t get one of those, then get one as close as you can, and just walk.  It’s not far.  The campsites right on the beach are really nice.  There are a few with direct beach access, and awesome views of the water, and some that have a knoll, or small sand dune you have to walk over to get to the beach.  (more on that below).  The other campsites seem to be deep in the forest.  You wouldn’t think a BEACH campground would have thick forest, but the forest is nice and thick here.  However… some areas have thick brush, and some have no brush making it not so private.  I also noticed the site’s have a lot of “Road Front”.  Meaning, they are wide, and very open to the road.   The area in South East section of Outlet River A is really neat.  However, it’s not very private.  See the below picture.  Just look how “deep” the forest is, and how mature the tree’s are.

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There are 2 comfort stations in Outlet Campground A, which are nice and clean, and have flush toilets and showers.  However…, there are only 2 toilets in the bathrooms, and most times there’s a wait to use them.  There are a MILLION vault toilets, and they are absolutely disgusting.  They stink SOOOO bad, and they have no ventilation.  They need to convert these to hybrid flush toilets, with fan ventilation.  Seriously… they are gross.

Let’s talk about the beach.  As I said above, there are A LOT of beaches at this park.  When I was there, the water at Outlet River was closed because of high E-Coli.  However, that doesn’t mean ALL beaches are closed.  Others were open.  The beach at Outlet River was deep, and long.  There is LOTS of room for people to sit, or throw the ball around.  The sand has a few rocks in it, but it’s still comfortable to walk on.  The water is great to walk in, and fairly shallow until you get far out.  I noticed the tractor would grade the beach every morning at 7-8am (or maybe it was just because we were camping there on Canada Day Weekend).  If you look at Google Maps, of this specific beach, you’ll notice that you in a bay.  When sitting on the beach, it seems like you in a deep bay, and all you see is the cottages on the left, and more land on the right.  Yes, you see FAR out if you look straight ahead, but it’s just not the same as being on a beach with no “sides”.  Know what I mean?  One other thing about the beach…. if you have a campsite further back, and not directly ON the beach, then make sure you use the proper access points, and not someone’s campsite.  We had so many people walk right through our site to get to the beach, and it really got annoying.  The beach at Outlet River is mainly for the campers in the area, and not the day users.  This is nice because it doesn’t get to crowded.

As far as I know… there aren’t many hiking, or biking trails here.  This is more of a beach campground, where the activities all relate to the beach.  However, alot of the camp roads are nicely paved, so bring your roller blades and blade around!

There seemed to be a lot of activities at this park.  I noticed a few nights there was a documentary playing about the park at night.  Everyone would gather around around 9 pm.  They rent canoe’s at the wood lot.  There’s a river that runs between Lake Ontario and East Lake, which alot of people seemed to enjoy.  There are also some campsites on the river, where you can canoe right up to.  I even saw a couple tents right down by the river, beside the canoes. (more below)

I wanted to talk about some of the problems with this park, and some of my pet peeve’s.  The camp road going through Outlet River A, one of the busiest sections, is paved.  And, it’s 2 lanes, with a yellow line between.  As soon as drivers see a paved road, with 2 lanes, and yellow lines, they think it’s a road that they can drive fast one.  People FLY up and down the main road into Outlet River.  They drive WAY to fast down here.  Yes, the road is great for biking, and roller blading, but it only causes cars to drive faster.  I think this road used to be a bumpy, gravel road.  Which was far better IMO.  There are tons of campsites along this road, with young children walking around, and cars are flying down here like it’s a country back road.  It’s a problem!

Another thing about this park, is that it’s the GO-TO park in the area.  It’s a VERY busy park!  I’m willing to say this is one of the busiest parks in SW Ontario. If you go on a weekend, or holiday, prepare to wait at the front gate with 50-60 cars in front of you.  There are a lot of DAY guests here, which really congests the front entrance.  I also noticed there are a lot of tourists, and NEW campers here.   It’s like the Niagara Falls of camping.  However, I think there’s a lot of veterans here as well, who come every year and really enjoy it.

This is a Beach park.  Meaning people come here to camp near the beach, and go to the beach during the day.  This is one of the busiest parks in SW Ontario, so it must be because it has the best beach!  Not quite… it’s good, but not as good as Long Point IMO.  The campground there isn’t as busy, as has a better beach view IMO.

This park is just too busy for me.

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Best Campsites

– COMING!

Pro’s

– Campsites right on the beach

– It’s a beach campground, but it also has deep forest campsites

– Lot’s of activities, great park store

Con’s

– Paved road causing drivers to go FAAAAAST

– Vault toilets are disgusting

– Busy campground

Conclusion

I enjoyed myself at this campground, mostly because we camped on a site right on the water.  So, we had water access ALL the time.  Camping on a beach is always fun.  However, the amount of people here turned me off a little.  Grand central station!  It just didn’t seem like camping for some reason?

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