Posts Tagged ‘Georgian Bay’

Georgian Bay Islands…Make a Quick Getaway!

Many things impressed us about Georgian Bay Islands National Park.  The two-hour drive from Toronto was perfect…long enough to feel like we were “getting away”, but close enough not to waste a whole day driving and we saved money not having to gas up repeatedly or to stop and stuff our faces with deep-fried greasy goodness.  Finding the boat launch was super easy and if you take the Daytripper park boat, there is dedicated parking right next to the water.  Sweet!

After a short ride over to Beausoleil Island, we were greeted by park staff person extraordinaire, Katie, right at the dock.  All of the staff couldn’t be nicer or more helpful.  Katie gave us our cabin key and answered all of our questions.  There are these cool carts that you can borrow to transport your gear from the boat to your cabin or site and according to Zach, they provide a smooth ride.

The cabin was spotless and gorgeous and had a playground just outside the door.  The cabins are cleaned top to bottom after each visitor and it shows.  They are built completely of wood with vaulted ceilings and ours had two bedrooms, one for the folks and bunks for the kiddies.  Fraser and I honestly didn’t know how to pack for this trip.  We’re so used to bringing everything that we need, it made us feel strange leaving the details and gear to someone else, but it worked out great!  Every time we needed something we worried over not having brought it but sure enough the cabin’s compact kitchen hid all of the necessities…dishes, cutlery, pots, glasses, kettle, large water carrier, big knives, tongs, oven mitt, dish drainer, mini fridge, tea towel, coffee maker and filters. I really could go on and on.  Perfect.  It’s nice not to have to worry about packing.  Just bring food and clothes and a sleeping bag and you’re all set!

We dumped our bags and set off to start exploring the trails that run all over the island.  The kids worked on their Xplorer booklets (I’ll write all about that in a later post) and we got caught in the rain for the first time that trip…lol!  We went back to the cabin and barbecued up some steaks and corn on the cob for dinner and lit a fire for the marshmallows.  Luke must have said “I love this place” a hundred times and tried to secure a promise that we’ll return every year from now on.  I’d say that’s a rave review.

Day two started off with a hot breakfast and a plan to hike to the north end of the island.  It was overcast so we grabbed our raincoats and packed a lunch and headed out.  As we hiked past the tent sites we made note of the ones that we’d like to stay on and there were plenty of them.  The park has a really nice layout and even had a food building where you can lock away your goodies safe from bears and other animals.  What a great idea!  The views are spectacular and the trails are well maintained with some ideal for travel by foot and some ideal for bicycles.  We would definitely bring bikes next time.

As was our luck this year, just as we were pulling out our lunch, the skies opened up.  It was a cold, hard fall rain and we were far from our camp.  It was fine though.  Knowing that we had a dry cabin waiting for us at the end made the hike back no big deal and the weather cleared long enough in the afternoon to squeeze in some fishing.  We later found out from park staff that over 60mm of rain fell that day…more than the last three months combined.  It was suggested that since we have such a great record of attracting rainy weather, we should hire our services out to other parks in need of the wet stuff…lol!

The verdict?  Positive all around.  Easy to get to, great staff, beautiful cabin, gorgeous island and a good time was had by all.  I definitely recommend a visit to this park.  It’s a must do and is accessible to all campers regardless of outdoor experience.  Put it on the list and make plans to visit.  You won’t be disappointed.

Check out some pictures on Flickr!

Georgian Bay Islands On My Mind

I’m feeling pretty smug.  Earlier this year when we were planning our adventures for the summer, we decided to schedule our trip to Georgian Bay Islands National Park for early September.  After a challenging tripping season we now have beautiful Georgian Bay in our sights.

Just a short drive from Toronto, we get to start enjoying our trip right out of the blocks and save a bit of coin on gas money to boot.  If it rains, or if it’s cold or if those pesky bugs outlast the hot nights and come looking for us, I won’t mind.  We are going to be staying in a rustic cabin sheltered from the elements.  We’re going on vacation!

September has always been my favourite month for tripping.  The nights are cool, the leaves are changing and the crowds have thinned out.  Algonquin is our usual fall destination, but not only are we changing up the venue, we are going to a park that none of us have visited before.  That makes it extra exciting.  Friends that have been to Georgian Bay Islands before tell us that we’re in for a treat.  It is simply a gorgeous park.

Our plan is to take it easy.  We are going to explore the hiking trails on Beausoleil Island to take advantage of the mixed topography, Canadian shield on the north end and forests in the south.  With the boys hooked on fishing, we will definitely be spending time on shore trying to hook a big one.  Picnicking, barbeque, campfires, hiking, fishing, cozy cabin, pictures…lot of pictures.  Yeah, I’m feeling pretty smug.

National Parks in Ontario…Georgian Bay Islands

Although 2011 marked Parks Canada‘s 100th anniversary, 2012 is shaping up to be my family’s year of the national park system. We will be visiting two of the five national parks within Ontario’s borders.  With the newly launched Xplore program aimed at engaging youth participation in the outdoors targeting 6-11 year olds, there will be plenty to discover.  Here’s an excerpt from their website.

When you arrive at a participating national park, national historic site or national marine conservation area, your children will receive an Xplorers booklet filled with fun activities that will guide their discovery of the place. When they complete the requested number of activities they will be recognized as an official Xplorer with a certificate and a special souvenir!

This program is something that my kids will definitely be participating in.  It helps take the pressure off of us parents to entertain them and they’ll be learning about the history, culture and geography of the area, all the while thinking it’s a treasure hunt (suckers).  They can try their hand at geocaching, identifying local flora and fauna and learning an appreciation for the beauty and importance of our environment.  The program is included with the regular entry fee.

Our national parks of choice this year will be Pukaskwa and Georgian Bay Islands.  Both have recently been revamped.  The Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa has new suspension bridges and improved trails and walkways, plus free wifi at the visitors centre (expect to see a couple of pictures while we’re checking in and out)!  While Georgian Bay Islands have newly built rustic cabins available on Beausoleil Island (they’re called rustic but from the pictures look incredibly well-appointed and cottage-like, although don’t have indoor plumbing).

photo: Parks Canada

A real effort seems to have been put into making the parks more accessible to anyone with the desire to experience all the beauty that Ontario has to offer, regardless of experience.  This park also has a program that I’ve never seen before.  They have an all-inclusive option offering pre-assembled tents, all necessary gear, some food and guided hikes, canoeing and campfires!  If you’ve never been camping or it’s been years and years since your last trip, this one-on-one attention from park staff will provide an awesome experience as well as the confidence to venture out on your own next time.

Georgian Bay Islands National Park

photo: Parks Canada

As you know, I am a huge proponent of getting kids into the outdoors.   With Georgian Bay Islands just a two-hour drive from Toronto and offering serviced sites, interpretive programming and cabins that even include dishes and cookware, there is no excuse to put off your resolution to go camping this year.  The park is open year round, but services are available starting Victoria Day weekend and run until Thanksgiving Monday in October.  The islands are a mix of classic Georgian Bay rocky outcrops and long sandy beaches as well as hardwood forests.  There are numerous hiking trails and even a couple of bike trails.  Access to the islands is by boat only.  There is parking available on the mainland at Honey Harbour, and if you don’t have your own boat you can take the park’s passenger ferry, the DayTripper, across for a small fee (parking and ferry are included in cabin rental fees).  The ferry is seasonal, so you should contact the park for dates and times.

So for a quick day trip or an exciting overnighter in either a tent or a cabin, don’t overlook Georgian Bay Islands National Park!  As for Pukaskwa, well that’s a story for another post.  Stay tuned!

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