Best Places to Camp in Ontario
June 10, 2008
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The Globe and Mail recently ran an article on the best camping sites in Canada, the article itself only had room to list six, but the readers wrote in and added many more.
Here are the camp sites for Ontario:
LONG POINT PROVINCIAL PARK, ONTARIO
The Globe and Mail
Comment “The beauty of the flames as they curl into the summer night
sky, the sound of the firewood crackling and the frogs serenading each
other as the sun slowly melts into the lake are all priceless.”
– Annabel Lamagnere, Markham, Ont.
Highlight This 40-kilometre-long sand spit on Lake Erie – a UNESCO
biosphere reserve – is legendary among birdwatchers as a refuge and
stopover for migrating waterfowl in the fall and spring.
Ambience The 256 campsites are often booked solid in the summer but
manage to avoid a circus atmosphere by being split into three sections.
Amenities All sites are within a five-minute walk of the beach, and 78
have electricity. A laundromat, showers, flush toilets, three
children’s play areas, a boat launch and a convenience store are all
Diversions The sandy beach and shallow swimming area are ideal for
families. The boat launch lets you head out in search of perch and
pickerel or to explore the marshes.
Flora and fauna Along the park’s southern shore, low ridges and dunes
are covered by a blanket of sedge, prairie grass and trees. On the
north side, the boundary between land and water is blurred by marshes
and wetlands. A bird checklist includes 321 species. In early June, as
many as seven species of turtle can be seen making their annual trek
from the marshes to the sand dunes to lay their eggs.
Pest factor As usual, raccoons can be a nuisance.
Insider tip Several campsites are within a beach-ball bounce of the
beach, including Nos. 237, 311 and 432.
InformationLong Point is a two-hour drive southwest of Toronto.
Reservations: 1-888-668-7275; ontarioparks.com.
KILLARNEY PROVINCIAL PARK, ONTARIO
Comment “Crystal-clear waters backed by the beautiful white quartz of
the La Cloche mountain range; interior campsites with lots of peaceful
canoeing, hiking et cetera. Can’t be beat in all of Ontario.”
– Andrew Slater,
Highlight This rugged wilderness of crystalline lakes and jack-pine
ridges continues to lure paddlers and hikers more than 50 years after
artists such as the Group of Seven’s A.Y. Jackson petitioned the
Ontario government to make it a park.
Amenities Beyond dozens of hike- and paddle-in campsites, Killarney’s
sole organized campground is at George Lake. It offers 126 sites with
no electrical hook-ups and is home to a pair of beaches, an Outpost
shop, hot showers, flush toilets, a laundromat, a boat launch and
Diversions Many hiking trails set out from George Lake. The two-
kilometre Granite Ridge Trail, for example, starts off winding through
fields and forest, then leads up to lookouts offering views of
Georgian Bay and the La Cloche Mountains. The 100-kilometre La Cloche
Silhouette Trail takes a week to complete.
Flora and fauna
Moose, deer, wolves, bobcat, marten and beaver live in Killarney along
with more than 20 species of reptiles and amphibians and more than 100
species of birds.
Pest factor With so much water around, mosquitoes and blackflies can
be particularly nasty.
Insider tip Pre-assembled, furnished and heated yurts are available.
Information Killarney is about five hours north of Toronto by car.
Reservations: 1-888-668-7275; www.ontarioparks.com.
Sissy Schuss from Canada writes: Temagami in all its glory
Christine Best from Toronto, Canada writes: Silent Lake
Provincial Park in Ontario (just north of Peterborough).
It is close enough to Toronto that it is convenient, but it is
‘wild’ enough to be relaxing. No boats with motors are allowed on the
lake (Silent Lake), which is a HUGE plus as far as I am concerned.
Tim Wright from Winnipeg, Canada writes: I believe that the
best place to pitch a tent is in Canada. Specificially, a Canada Parks
place called’Rushing River.’ For campers, it is one of the most
relaxing campgrounds that I have ever been to. You have a place for
your tent, and a campfire(if the season is okay).
Carl Weatherell from Osgoode, Canada writes: Awenda Provincial
Park, Penatanguishene, ON…..the park is great for all styles of
camping, family, solo, duel, fully loaded (ie amenities in 1 of the
areas) or the more isolated and rugged sites. The campsites are large
and most surrounded by natural trails for the hiker or biker. There
are a number of beaches as well including 1 for families with their
dog companions. Beaches are not immediately adjacent to the campground
and this leaves the campsites in relative solitude on busy summer
weekends. The neighbouring towns of Penatang and Midland are small-
midsizem have numerous attractions for kids and families without the
business of a big city we are all trying to escape. We have been
enjoying Awenda for 10 years now!!
Stand up for Social Justice The Canadian Way from Canada
writes: Bruce Penisula National Park, up by Tobermory is the best spot
I have been too. It has great hiking trails and the scenery is
John Hinkley from Thornhill, ON, Canada writes: David Lake in
Killarney Provincial Park
M Kwad from Calgary, Canada writes: Anywhere along the middle
to eastern side of Burnt Island Lake within Algonquin Park. A mere one
day of paddling from the easily accessible Canoe Lake access point to
find yourself in the true Canadian wilderness. Always a winner with
expert and novice alike.
Stewart Young from Toronto, Canada writes: We enjoy camping at
The Pinery in Ontario on Lake Huron. Close to Grand Bend with all it’s
summer attractions it offers seclusion for the times you want to just
be alone. The camp sites and facilities are well maintained and clean.
Joshua Nasielski from Toronto, Canada writes: Best Camping
Spot: Big Trout Lake, Algonquin Park.
The real Algonquin Park doesn’t start before Big Trout. The two
day canoe paddle from the Highway 60 access point on Canoe lake can be
completed by mere mortals, but is challenging enough to keep away the
crowds looking for cheap thrills. Just remember that half the fun is
The campsites are almost exclusively on small islands, keeping
away unwanted critters and bugs. But wildlife can be seen on the
lake’s swampy southern edges, where moose and waterfowl dine. From the
rocky outcroppings over a bottle of wine, you are afforded a glorious
view of the Algonquin sky at sunset, and then the stars.
It is only two hours away from Toronto, but not even thoughts
of the city enters your mind after the pleasantly warm burn of
physical activity settles over you at the end of a day of paddling.
But the portages are short enough that not all of civilization’s
accoutremonts need to be left behind. Big Trout Lake is the perfect
spot for a modern Canadian to enjoy a natural camping experience.
Keith O’Reilly from Ottawa, Canada writes: Pinery Privincial
Park, Grand Bend. Windy night, walk on the beach, long campfire……
can’t be beat !!
Melanie Cunningham from Canada writes: Quetico Provincial Park,
Ontario. One of the largest provincial parks in Ontario situated west
of Thunder Bay. It offers nature at its best. Wildlife, fishing with
peace and quiet. No motorized vehicles allowed on the water. Canoeing
is the only way to navigate the waters. You can camp at the formalized
camp sites or you can head into the interior of the park where, if you
chose, you can cross over into the U.S. It is truly one of the most
unique provincial parks and because of it’s location, it still offers
a true north experience.
Keven Bender from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada writes: Sleeping
Giant Provincial Park
There is no place in Ontario (probably the world) that you can
go to experience so much beauty and have so many different experiences
in one park. You can pitch your tent at the edge of Lake Marie Louise
and watch the sun set & rise while watching all kinds of wild life &
birds. When hot, you can get up off your lawn chair and go 2 steps
into the lake for a nice refreshing swim or take a nice 5 min. drive
down to Silver Islet to swim in Lake Superior. You can hike some of
the most diversifying beautiful and highest climbs. You can pick fresh
fruit, fresh mushrooms and fish (that can be eaten) in the lake from
your camp site. Too bad, I couldn’t attach photos as they would show
more than my words can describe.
james stewart from Canada writes: The Massasauga Provincial
Park. Site 509. Beautiful
winston freeman from Hamilton, Canada writes: Bon Echo
provincial park .
It’s where I’m from …
before there was a hotel , or a park , there was a farm .
I think it’s the most visited park in Ontario – but I bet there
are not many who have enjoyed making apple jelly from trees that a
grandfather’s grandfather planted .
Liz Brockest from Toronto, Canada writes: My favourite spot to
camp is at Lake Superior Provincial Park along the coastal trail. Its
shawn hutcheson from toronto, writes: There are so many great
spots to camp but my favorite are the McCoy Islands that sit in
Georgian Bay about a 12km canoe ride north west out of Dillon. I think
what makes it great is that it isn’t the easiest to access but once
you’r there what a spot!
The Last Varlet from Canada writes: The very nicest camp-site
is on Tupper Lake, next to Maple Mountain, which is the highest point
in Ontario. The lake, in the Lady Evelyn Lake system, is pristine,
full of fish, and affords a great view of Maple Mountain. The camp-
site is set among tall pines, and can accomodate up to 3 canoeing
parties. It’s a 2 day paddle to get there from Mowat’s Landing on the
Montreal river, but the journey, and the destination are equally
Rita Gordon from Manitoulin Island, Canada writes: My favourite
campground is Gordon’s Park Eco Resort on Manitoulin Island. It is an
Attractions Canada award winner offering activities, events and
accommodations including camping, tipi tenting, camping cabins, bed &
breakfast, stargazing cabin, solar heated swimming pool, 18 hole
miniature golf, nature interpretive centre, educational hiking trails,
archery, cycling routes, birding tours, dark sky preserve, astronomy,
horseshoes, children’s playground, orienteering, night hikes, women’s
outdoor weekends, moonlight hike & wolf howls, Thursday nights
astronomy, Sunday afternoon Walk A Fossil Reef, Stargazing Manitoulin,
Manitoulin Star Party, Astronomy Public Observing Sessions & Laser
Guided Sky Tours and more. The wilderness camping sites are situated
in a hardwood forest and are big and private and woodsy. There are no
permanent trailers in the park and the park caters to eco friendly
campers who share a love for nature and the environment. The park has
a dark sky preserve in the interior of the park that offers 7.5
magnitude, no light pollution, 360 degree viewing, and observing from
the darkest skies in the Province of Ontario. The Nature Interpretive
Centre features mounted animal displays of bears & wolves, hawks and
owls, bones & skulls, fossils, oddities in nature and has interpretive
information on wildflowers, edible wilds, astronomy, trees, birds,
fossils, mushrooms, animals, eco systems and more. The educational
hiking trails take you through five different eco systems in the park:
Escarpment, Wetland Bog, Hardwood Forest, Fields & Meadows, and the
Pond area. The 18 hole miniature golf is built into the natural
terrain of a cedar grove and features putts through trees, under the
ground, around rocks and more. There is a prehistoric fossil reef in
the park and guided hikes are offered every Sunday during the months
of July & August. In addition, Thursday Nights in July & August are
astronomy nights. Great Place
Lisa Laflamme from Courtice, Canada writes: HI … I would like
to introduce my favourite place in Canada where pitching a tent is
both a magical and magnificent experience. A long and winding road
leads from the Trans Canada Highway through the Lake Superior
Provincial Park to Gargantua Harbour. The bay there is brilliant blue
in colour and the camp sites encircle the waters where solitude can be
found. Camping neighbours remain at a distance and the terrain is
hospitable and conducive to tent camping. My experience at Gargantua
Bay provided any number of opportunities for swimming, canoeing and
kayaking, for hiking close or far, and for amazing star-gazing. This
magical place feels far away from hectic places and yet is quite
accessible. Gargantua Bay would be the place I would choose to pitch
my tent out of all the places of beauty in Canada.
Jean-Marc Mangin from Chelsea, Canada writes: A myriad of spots
along the Dumoine River.
This treasure located about 100 km from Ottawa will hopefully
become a provincial Park. This river offers everything – foam flecked
rapids, smooth chutes, thundering falls, beautiful lakes, a canyon and
excellent campsites all surrounded by pine and spruce forest.
Tara Smith from Holland Landing, Canada writes: After going to
Provincial parks I have Fallen in Love with Haliburton Forest.
The sites are very Large and extremely private.
All of their camp spots are on water and the trails and extras
(such as the Wolf centre) are great ways entertain kids.
Paula Greenwood from Peterborough, Canada writes: According to
my girlfriend, the best spots are on the elephant islands in the
French River in Ontario. They’re referred to as the elephant rumps -
Allan Elliott from Calgary, Canada writes: Lake Superior
Provincial Park in one of the finest campgrounds discovered on a cross-
Canada camping trip in July/August 2007
Up the Creek With my Paddle from Alberta, Canada writes:
Without doubt, my favourite camping spot is at the end
of the portage going into Fred Lake in Quetico Provincial Park,
Ontario. This portage ends in a beautiful sand beach, with
a campspot beneath towering white pines. The lake abounds
with walleye, so catching dinner is a matter of spending
a few minutes trolling behind the canoe. Under a full moon,
loons call back and forth, echoed by the howls of a wolf pack
that frequents the lake shore. Early morning mist moves out
of the small bays, to disappear in the warming sun.
Camping here in solitude…priceless!!
Marshall Bowen from Burlington, Canada writes: One of the most
peaceful and I guess my favourite place to camp is in August on the
hiking trail in Pukawska National Park. You can pitch your tent on the
shore of Lake Superior, sometimes near the mouth of a small river, and
see the beautiful sunset followed later by the aurora borealis making
curtains across the northern sky.
Eefje Willemze-Kool from Brampton, Canada writes: A favourite
camping area is at Kilbear north of Parry Sound, Ont. After locating
the ‘right’ camping spot, which has large rocky outcrops behind it,
between the tent and Gergian Bay, one feels in a world of one’s own.
At night on a blanket to soften the hard stone, one can gaze at the
constellations and be awed by the enormity of our universe, and make a
wish on seeing the inevitable ‘falling star’. In daytime, a 5 minute
stroll brings you to a beautiful sandy beach with sun-warmed water.
There you have a choice of sunbathing, barbecuing lunch, windsurfing,
and time almost stands still. For another day, there are a series of
hiking trails, of varying lengths, just waiting to be explored. As
well, there is an excellent museum and evening programme to keep
little ones entranced. An added bonus for music lovers is the nearby
Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound, with musical events of all
types, within an easy 1/2 hour drive! This is certainly the Land of
the Gods!… in summertime, at least.
T J from Canada writes: Sandbaks provincial Park @ Picton On.
Eugene JZ from Toronto, Canada writes: Perhaps the best place
in Ontario, for camping, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and whatever
other outdoor activities your heart desires, is … Lake Temagami in
the Nipissing District.
Just amazingly clear water, stunning escarpments, fantastic
forests, the lot.
I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the outdoors.
dan donahue from Canada writes: Lake of the Woods in
northwestern Ontario would be my hands down pick.
I’ve canoed many regions but this place is unique simply
because it has yet to be discovered as have so many other areas. 14
thousand islands, a history dripping with riches clear water and blue
skies make an experience
one will never forget. I don’t paddle as much anymore but I’ve
settled in the region and feel blessed to spend my summer nights on
the dock with the images of those who came before to settle this part
of the country, pass before me amongst the diamonds the setting summer
sun casts my way.
Theodore Street from Canada writes: My favorite place is a spot
that is accessible only by water: the Benjamin Islands in the North
Channel of Georgian Bay. What’s nice about this spot? There’s a choice
of camping on the rocks or camping in the woods. There’s a celebratory
quality about camping on an island, especially if you sailed to it in
a small sailboat, say a sixteen foot Wayfarer named Happy Talk; you
get more joy than you would from say chartering a yacht in Little
Current or Gore Bay — not that there’s anything wrong with yachts.
It’s just not camping.
My first trip to the Benjamins was on the Canada Day weekend in
1990, with my friend Brenda. It was truly exhilarating. Our friends
from Westwood Sailing Club had chartered two yachts from the yacht
dispensary in Gore Bay. By late afternoon Saturday they were anchored
in the natural harbor in the bay between North and South Benjamin
Island. Our friends spotted this sailing dinghy tacking upwind in the
distance and wondered oh know: their dignified yachting experience
will soon be eroded. Minutes later we were tied up to a charter boat
named Charisma for drinks and barbecued hors d’oeuvres (peppers),
Nachos and beer.
So in our own way, we enjoyed the company of these charter
yachtsmen, but also the privacy of our own deserted island.
Poopie Pants from Toronto, Canada writes: Grundy Lake
elissa berry from Marmora, Canada writes: Crowe Lake, Marmora,
Ontario just north of Belleville and east of Peterborough is my
favorite spacious camping spot in Canada. Why? It’s a family location
where you can bring the kids, stretch out and enjoy while the children
play. The winding road through the tall Canadian forest leads to the
lake where we can catch bass, muskie and pickerel and then sink our
toes in the sand at the beach. It is close enough to Toronto, just 98
miles metro and all the necessities are closeby. Camping is about
people, my family and yours as we sit by the campfire and watch the
stars. Some of the very best of these people can be found at Glen
Allan Park in Marmora, Ontario.
S. Richens from Winnipeg, Canada writes: The greatest campsite
I ever stayed at is Hideaway Lake in Pukaskwa National Park, located 4
km north of the starting point of the coastal trail. The North shore
of Lake Superior is breathtakingly beautiful, and this site is no
exception. But not only is it located in a bay between dramatic
granite headlands topped with spruce and aspen, it is set back just
enough to escape the wind without losing the presence of the Lake. The
water is crystal clear, showing the myriad colours of each submerged
boulder. It’s one of the last places left on Earth where a hiker can
just dip a mug into the water and drink it untreated. The only signs
of human existence are the tent pads and the contrails overhead. Not a
trace of litter can be found, as this site is only visited by the kind
of people who are willing to pay a few hundred dollars for a water
taxi into the park, and then to hike and often crawl the 58 km of
unmarked trail back to the parking lot. Not a walk in the park, the
trail’s reputation for ruggedness is well deserved. Best of all, being
only a couple of hours from the start of the trail, one can carry a
gourmet meal with wine and all the trimmings for the first supper
before reverting to the usual hikers’ fare of GORP and ramen noodles
for the rest of the week. My pictures are at: http://www.mts.net/~srichens/pukaskwa.htm