Holiday water report 2019
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HOLIDAY WATER 2019 - ONTARIO NATIONAL PARKS
By Suzanne Forcese
There's a world of discovery, history and nature in Ontario. WaterToday was escorted by Parks Canada on a memorable journey through the National Parks of Ontario. Here's a taste of the adventures waiting to be experienced.
Bruce Peninsula National Park (part of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve)
Straddling the Niagara Escarpment, this 156 sq. km national Park is a 4 hour drive from Toronto. A huge forested ridge runs through Southern Ontario. The Grotto, a limestone cave overlooking Georgian Bay's clear waters, cliffs framing the beach at Indian Head Cove, the shallow waters, sand dunes and boardwalk of Singing Sands Beach on Lake Huron beckon. The Bruce Trail passes caves, forests and dramatic cliffs, overlooks rise from the turquoise waters of Georgian Bay. In large tracts of forest, black bear roam and rare reptiles find refuge in rocky areas. Diverse wetlands, ancient cedar trees spiraling from cliff edges, orchids, ferns, and the brilliant night of a Dark Sky Preserve...it's all there. The Park is traditional home of the Saugeen Ojibway First Nations and a protected preserve for more than 200 species of birds, mammals, and amphibians.
Sound enchanting? Parks Canada has created ways for you to imbibe this wonderland by relaxing in one of the following campsites:
Cyprus Lake Campground is the only area where front country camping is permitted. Reservations are strongly recommended. You will find potable water taps, cold water sinks and basic washroom facilities. There are no serviced sites or shower facilities. Only wood from the north Bruce Peninsula can be brought to camp to prevent spread of the Emerald Ash Borer.
10 yurts along the shore of Cyprus Lake are available. The yurt is a modern version of a traditional dwelling used by the nomads of Central Asia. Yurts are a semi-permanent tent-like structure, circular in shape with a wooden lattice frame, appointed with furnishings, a woodstove, beds, large deck, a propane BBQ, and a locking door. A very popular choice for the camping experience at Cyprus Lake Campground. Reservations are required. Start booking in January for the summer 1-877 –RESERVE (Yurts are closed during the winter)
Group Camping: one drive-in campsite is available for groups of 15-35, tent camping only. Potable water, and basic washroom facilities. Walking distance to Cyrpus Lake and the trail system. This site is designated radio and alcohol free. Reservations can be taken as early as January for the upcoming summer.
Backcountry Camping: Stormhaven and High Dump located along the Bruce Trail on the Georgian Bay shoreline offer a tranquil camping experience in a beautiful remote setting. Valid permit required prior to arrival. Reservations strongly recommended. Campsites for each camp ground include a shared composting toilet. No open fires allowed. Wash with biodegradable soap 30 m back from the shoreline. Drinking water is not available. Exercise Caution while hiking. Bruce Trail is rugged and slow going. Rocks are slippery when wet. For more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter Camping: Potable water is not available. Do not bring your own firewood. Firewood is available at Cyprus Lake Campground only. Fires are not allowed in any area except Cyprus Lake Campground. No flush toilets or running water in any of the camp grounds during winter. Winter conditions can be dangerous. Be prepared and cautious
The shoreline boulders at Halfway Log Dump (a remote location) are the designated bouldering area. Lakeside Daisy is an endangered species that grows on the first 3 large boulders along the shore. Do not Disturb.
The Grotto is a scenic cave containing a pool of blue water located on the Georgian Bay shoreline near Tobermory. A new reservation system for the 4 hour Grotto parking time slots allows you to plan ahead.
Tobermory Visitor Centre's 100 seat theatre has hourly presentations of the park's feature film Life on the Edge A 65 ft. lookout tower and nearby trails provides views of water access to Georgian Bay. There are interpretive programs including the famous snake talk.
Fathom Five National Marine Park (A National Marine Conservation Area)
Twenty-two barges, schooners and steamers lie shipwrecked at the bottom of Georgian Bay creating fascinating diving sites in this protected and preserved freshwater ecosystem. (All divers must register at the Parks Canada Visitor Centre). The park covers 130 sq. km of surface water surrounding 20 islands on the northern and eastern sectors of the Bruce Peninsula Islands which are part of the Great Lakes formation. Formed about 400 million years ago as coral reefs transformed into dolomite and then these islands were further eroded to tree and grass dotted imposing cliffs with isolation from the mainland. The result gave way to a unique ecosystem. The 2 sq.km Flower Pot Island is the only island accessible. The shoreline is rocky and the water cold at Beachy Cove where tour boats leave you for a hike to the flowerpot rock formations and the light station.
There is one camping location in Fathom Five on Flowerpot Island with 6 tenting sites, each with a wooden tent platform, it is a short walk from Beachy Cove. Access to the island is by private tour boat, your own boat or kayak (experienced paddlers only). You must obtain a permit from Park visitor centre in Tobermory. One composting toilet is near the camp site. Bring your own water. Bad weather can leave you stuck on the island for a day or two. Be Prepared.
Georgian Islands National Park
Welcome to the world's largest freshwater archipelago of 63 small islands home to a boat access nature preserve. Near Port Severn Park, this 13.5 sq. km windswept white pine rock faces scraped bare by wild waters is what drew the famous collective of Canadian painters -- The Group of Seven in the 1920's. A front country park with back country scenery, vistas, and accessibility make it a popular destination. Beausoleil Island is the largest with facilities, docks, campsites and rustic cabins. A network of 11 well -groomed trails range from wheelchair- accessible walking paths to more difficult scrambles across the Precambrian rock of the Canadian Shield. Natives used the island for hunting and trading as far back as 7000 years ago. Early voyageurs marked it as a midpoint on travels between Severn River and north Georgian Bay. All islands are open to the public between Honey Harbour and Twelve Mile Bay. Bone Island is the only other island to offer services. Because it is extremely busy in summer with power boats experienced paddlers should wait for the end of August. Winter visitors can blaze their own trails across the bay via snowshoe, ski or snowmobile. Winter camping is only offered at Cedar Spring and Chimney Bay.
Bicycle the Huron and Christian trails for a pleasant ride through mature forest. The Georgian trail is more difficult with technical rocky sections. Bike rentals now available at the Cedar Spring Visitor Centre.
Hiking and walking Northern Beausoleil trails showcase the beauty of the Canadian shield Trails in the south pass through a rich mosaic of forest communities. Make sure to have sturdy footwear, carry drinking water and insect repellent.
Swimming and beaches along the eastern shore beaches are not supervised, use caution as rocks are slippery.
There are Rustic Waterfront cabins on Georgian Bay Cedar Spring (6) and Christian Beach (4). Each with basic comforts, bed, table, chairs, lights and cooking gear. Boat transportation from Honey Harbour to Beausoleil Isand is included and pre-arranged. All cabins available for advanced booking Victoria Day weekend to Thanksgiving. No plumbing or running water in cabins. Drinking water is provided at Christian Beach.
Point Pelee National Park
A Dark Sky Preserve and Canada's smallest but most ecologically diverse national park situated at the southern extreme of mainland Canada, Point Pelee National Park is a tiny sanctuary supporting a mosaic of habitats from jungle-like forest to lush wetlands to open savannah. Bike the 4.5 km trail taking you deep into the forest, or walk the boardwalk out onto one of the largest freshwater marshes left on the Great lakes. Two third of the park is composed of freshwater marshes. Explore beyond the boundaries of the Marsh Boardwalk by canoe or kayak. Canoes are available for rent. Or cruise among the cattails with an interpreter in the ten-person canoe to see the marsh's carnivorous plant.
At the Visitor Centre, browse the exhibits and catch the shuttle to the tip or go on a Geocaching Adventure. Navigate the trails with a GPS unit to find hidden boxes within walking distance of the centre.
Each spring view flocks of migrating birds joined in autumn by waves of monarch butterflies. In winter wander snowy trails past iced trees and summer bask on sunny beaches.
Glamp over- night in the Carolinian Forest. There are 24 oTENTiks snuggling the heart of Point Pelee (No running water inside). Drinking water is nearby, showers and toilets plus a camp office with souvenirs, drinks and firewood for sale.
Special rates and opportunities are available for non-profit groups. Visit Parks Canada Reservation Service or call 1-877-RESERVE
Pukaskwa National Park
Powerful waves of an inland sea, the rugged Canadian Shield and dense boreal forest await on Lake Superior in northern Ontario. The White River Suspension Bridge over Chigamiwinigum Falls is a highlight of the backcountry Coast Hiking Trail. A boardwalk leads to Horseshoe Beach, flanked by coniferous forest. The Bimose Kinoonagewnan Trail and the Anishinaabe Camp with its traditional structures showcase the cultural heritage of the Anishinaabe.
Up for the ultimate hike? Back country hiking on the 18 kilometre Coastal Hiking Trail will take you on the wildest hike on the wildest shore. Visitors who are properly equipped for backpacking this difficult terrain will enjoy relaxing campsites beautiful beaches and awe-inspiring views that will your breath away.
Do not overestimate your abilities for these challenging hikes. Check the Parks Canada website for the Mdaabii Miina & Coastal Hiking Trail Trip planner.
Backcountry paddling: Comparable to ocean paddling the Pukaskwa Coastal paddling route offers premiere Ontario wilderness terrain and demands technical knowledge and skill along the 135 km of coastline.
The Pukaskwa River is considered to be remote and difficult and navigable only during spring run-off from May to early June. Please note after exiting the river paddlers will require a boat shuttle or a lengthy paddle along the coast of Lake Superior to reach civilization.
Front Country Camping
The perfect camping destination for a family vacation with potable water showers and toilets in 67 campsites designed to accommodate one motor vehicle, up to 6 people in 2 tents or one trailer/recreational vehicle with an additional tent.
Back country Camping
Hike or paddle to one of 65 designated backcountry campsites featuring firepit, access to food locker, access to privy toilet no potable water on all back country sites.
Please make reservations on the Parks Canada website.
Families who are interested in a picnic outdoors should consider setting up camp on Hattie Cove which not only features and incredible view of the shoreline but also a visitor centre and nearby washroom. Hikes will need to make their way up 60 km coastal hiking trail that cradles the coasts of Lake Superior and has multiple bridges to stop and peer over White or Willow Rivers. You may encounter lynxes, woodland caribou, and grey wolves.
Thousand Islands National Park(Formerly known as the St. Lawrence Islands National Park)
Just a few hours from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, the Park - actually the worn-down tops of ancient mountains-- is located on the 1000 Islands Parkway in the Thousand Islands Region of the St. Lawrence River. Mallory Landing is a great gathering place for family and friends to celebrate Canada's special days. Explore secluded bays by kayak or powerboat, enjoy a day by the river or overnight in waterfront oTENTik accommodations. Hike the trails and discover rare species of turtles and birds in this historic wilderness. Guides are at your beck and call to paddle you through the dynamic cool waters of the park. You might just find sunken ships, historic castles and a landscape rich with First Nations history. 1000 Islands Kayaking Company and Misty Isles Lodge are regional outfitting companies offering kayak rental and guided tours. Their websites have all the information you need. Consider that July and August are the busiest times.
You can also take tour boats through the islands. There are many tour operators organized by the following locations: Brockville, Rockport, Ivy Lea, Gananoque and Kingston.
Two sand beaches, one on Central Grenadier Island and other on Thwartway Island. There are great swimming rocks and docks throughout the park.
OTENTik glamping is available on McDonald Islandand Gordon Island as well as on the mainland at Mallory Landing.
Potable water is only available at Mallory Landing and Central Grenadier Island.
Enjoy the National Parks of Ontario!
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