Review Date: Sept 2014
**New for this review – A Bike ride through the park!**
I filmed myself riding through each area in the park. I thought this would give you a great sense of what the park is like, etc. Find the 3 videos below
General Information / Location / Address
Port Burwell Provincial Park is located on the shore of Lake Erie, directly beside the town of Port Burwell.
9 Wilson Lane
Port Burwell, ON, N0J 1T0
Entry / Layout
Port Burwell has 2 different entrances for the park, and the beach. The first entrance goes past a few cottages, then you reach the front office. The second entrance has it’s own “front office”, which leads to the day use beach areas.
The park is split into 3 campgrounds. Alzora, Leander, and Iroquois. Each campground has their own full service bathroom in the center. There is also a large playing field, and another bathroom between Leander and Alzora.
First, take a look at the above picture. This is the satellite image of Port Burwell Provincial Park. (You can also see the big play field, more on that later). I wanted to show this picture because it shows the type of landscape / foliage you’ll encounter when coming here. The forest is thick, which in most cases offers a lot of privacy. Most of the campgrounds I’ve encountered on Lake Erie are more grass then anything, but not here. You really get the sense that you are camping up north in a fully mature forest. However, when you venture to the beach, you’ll know you’re on Lake Erie because of the soft sand and great beach. Not often do you get to camp in a thick forest with a great beach. On the West side of the campground, there is a large cavern like creek, with a few campsites right on it’s banks. More on that later.
Port Burwell PP is split into 3 campsites. Alzora, Leander, and Iroquois. We stayed in Iroquois because it seemed to be the furthest away from cottages and roads, etc. Iroquois is at the back of the campground, and think it’s the quietest, and feels more remote then the other. The campsites throughout the whole park are all fairly large, and private. They all seem to have wide road front, instead of that long drive way type of site. The floor of the sites are mostly grass and forest floor. I didn’t see any that were gravel, which IMO is good.
One small issue, is the roads throughout the campgrounds are all paved. This isn’t a huge issue, but sometimes driver drive faster when the roads are paved. However, it does keep the dust down when they are paved.
I will say that the forest is fairly brushy, almost like a jungle, which is great for Privacy, but I much prefer a forest that’s a little more bare. Yes it’s less privacy, but it just seems more Northy to me. The sites that offer this barer type forest are 95 to about 206.
Speaking of the back of Iroquois. If you look at the above google maps satellite image, you can see at the top a farmers field. This field is fairly close to the top edge of the campsites, and two times we heard coyotes howling right here. It sounded incredible, and worth the listen. One time it was 5am, and the other was 9pm. Now that I think of it.. maybe watch your children and small dogs if you camping up in that area.
There are full service bathrooms at the center of each area. There is also a bathroom by the large playing field. One thing you won’t find here are those smelly vault type toilets in the middle of every other campsite.
One great thing about this park is the large playing field in the center. It offers a great jungle gym for the kids, and 2 volley ball nets. It also has a large area to play soccer, and even baseball. This is also where the Amphitheater is located. There are a couple great sites basically right beside the playing field, which would be great for family’s with children. I believe I have labelled them in my below videos.
I’m not too familiar with what activities this park offers, but I assume because of the Amphitheater in the park, there are lots of events catered to children.
The park seemed really tidy and clean. All the sites were properly groomed / drained of water. All the bathrooms were all clean. It seems they really know what their doing here. They strive for a clean, well run park.
The beach is really long. There’s LOTS of room for all campers to setup, and have it not be so crowded. There’s also LOTS of parking. One thing I noticed is that the beach is not groomed, and inside the magazine for Port Burwell PP, they explain why. I also didn’t notice a lot of loose sand on the beach, but more hard packed sand. I think this is because the water level has been so high. Getting into, and out of the water is a cinch. It remains fairly shallow as you walk out. There is a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the beach, which is kind of a pain, but such as life.
The dog beach is the best dog beach around. It’s HUGE! Lots of room to run the dogs into the water, playing fetch, etc. However, there are signs everywhere of a $95 fine if dog is off leash. I saw about 50% of the dogs off leash when I went, and even kept my dogs off leash, and didn’t have a problem.
At the front office is a small park store, where you can buy camping essentials, and some munchies. There’s not a lot of stuff here, but gets the job done if you’re looking to snacks. Same type of store at the entrance to the day use areas. Coffee comes from an instant coffee machine, with those coffee pucks / packs. $2 per coffee. Firewood is also for sale at the front gates for about $7 a bag. It’s all covered in it’s own building, but even so I noticed that some of the wood was a little damp when burning. I also couldn’t chop a log in half, which means it could still be a little wet. Quality of the wood when I went wasn’t amazing.
The camp warden does drive through, but only saw him/her once an evening. However for whatever reason, I did see an OPP SUV drive through once as well.
I’m not sure how the bugs are here in general, but this weekend the mosquito’s were terrible! They were EVERYWHERE, and ANYWHERE. They did disappear around 8pm tho. I don’t think Port Burwell is bad for mosquito’s in general, but for whatever reason, this weekend was BAD.
One thing worth mentioning, is they have new Dumping stations for trailers. It’s can accommodate two trailers at once, which is great on those busy Sunday’s when everyone is leaving. As well, there’s a new trailer filling station, right on the side of the road, that can also accommodate 2 trailers.
Hiking / Biking
Here’s a list of all the trails at Port Burwell. It also contains some of the other activities that are available in the park. I planned to walk all the trails, but because of the mosquito’s, never got around to it. I included the parks description of the trails below
Ravine Creek Trail 1 km, 45 minutes, easy (This interpretive trail, which features a self-guided brochure, travels through a ravine and woodlot. Eleven stops along the way explain local geology, flora and fauna.)
Beach Trail 2 km return, 1 hour, easy ( The trail leads from the campground to the beach. A lookout point provides an excellent view of Lake Erie and the beach below. The trail traverses a 20 m bluff.)
A Bike Ride through the Park!
To give you a better aspect on what this park is like, I created 3 videos of me riding through each area. Here they are below:
IMO, the best area is Iroquois, campsites 95 to 206. Sites 31,33,35 are neat because they are right on the backs of a large revine. (Careful of the drop-off).
197,196 – Large sites, decent privacy
200 is good. With a trailer you can make it fairly private
201, 203 is OK
206 is really big, kinda private. Bigest site I’ve seem
210, 211, 212 right across from bathroom. MEH
218 really private. really bushy. shrubs. can’t see big tree’s. doesn’t remind me of up north
172 is kinda nice, really big. nice forest
– Very clean, well kept up park. Staff spend a great deal of time and energy on this park.
– Lots of full service bathrooms
– Sites are LARGE, and mostly private
– Beach is great, with great water entry
– Thick forest. Nice sized tree’s. Mature forest
– Great playing field
– Beach is a drive, not a walk
Surrounding Area Activities
Project Ojibwa – A really cool tour of a retired submarine. This is located in the neighboring town of Port Burwell. It’s worth going to see, but it’s $18.50 to go in. Kinda steep.
Should you camp here?
Totally YES!. Port Burwell deserves your business here. The park shows that the staff strive to keep it clean, and ready for you to camp. The beach is great, with lots of parking. The sites are all large, and private. It’s really a great park!