Today is a proud & poignant moment in the life of camping parents. Our youngest child has flown the camp nest and ventured out on her own adult camping trip.
The oldest of our three birdies has been camping since he was nearly a newborn and took up the cause on his own in his early 20s, traveling with a set of camping gear in the back of his truck at all times. The middle child was not as big a fan of camping in his younger days but now loves the outdoors, biking, and hiking. He recently asked for a list of basic camping needs 🙂
The youngest, our daughter, embarked today on a one night, holiday weekend, camping trip to a nearby Ontario Provincial Park, 16 years less one month and a half from her first family camping trip on the Oregon Coast
Looks like she knows her way around setting up that tent 😉
Dad had a well-planned appointment at the time of his little girl’s departure so it was left up to Mom to go through the list of necessities…
M “Where are your utensils?”
D “We are just having hot dogs over the campfire. We don’t need forks and knives.”
M “How about skewers?”
D “Oh, right. Where are those?”
M “Here, let me get the good long metal skewers for you [smug smile].”
M “Bug spray? Sunscreen? Paper plates? How many? Trash bag?”
D “Oh, right. Trash bag.”
M “I already put it in your toe bag [smugness again]. And take waterproof matches in case the lighter runs out. And remember to pick up a campground map at the office when you check in…”
D “Thanks Mom!”
M “And always remember to leave the campsite cleaner than when you arrived!”
The Otonabee River runs 34 miles/54 km from Katchewanooka Lake to Rice Lake through the City of Peterborough, Ontario. A portion of the river is part of the Parks Canada National Historic Trent-Severn Waterway. The waterway veers off into the Trent Canal at Trent University down to Little Lake in Peterborough. The waterway is a popular destination for boaters from May through October. There are numerous locks and damns along the rive and canal, many offering excellent places to picnic, fish, and stroll along the water. Walking/biking trails connect with most of the locks.
There are a few places available for camping along the Otonabee River, with many more public & private parks in the surrounding Kawartha Lakes region. They are typically open from mid-May through early October but individual operating dates will vary.
Four tent cabins are available to reserve at Lock 24 on the Otonabee River. They accommodate up to 6 people, have a propane BBQ for cooking, and free access to shower facilities. The Lakefield Rotary Greenway Trail runs alongside the Lock and is perfect for cycling between Peterborough and Lakefield. Kayaking and canoeing is popular as is fishing. Check with the Ministry of Natural Resources for regulations and permits.
Further down river is River Bend Marina along a 40+ mile open stretch between Lock 19 in Peterborough and Lock 18 in Hastings at the far end of Rice Lake. Check with them for RV and tent camping spots in season. Many private parks and resorts are located along the shores of Rice Lake offering a wide range of camping options.
Enjoy exploring the Otonabee River and the beautiful surrounding areas of central Ontario!
It’s a 3 hour drive from Ottawa and less than 2 hours from Toronto. The 1.2 km, 45 min. loop is accessible for ease of mobility. Bicycles are not allowed on the trail. There is terrific bird watching throughout the season as well as nature programs for young and old in the summer. Check out Friends of Presqu’ile Park for seasonal events. Picnic tables alongside the parking lot and on one of the teaching platforms are a great place to sit and enjoy lunch. Toilet facilities are located elsewhere in the park.
Lansdowne, Southeast Ontario (contact info at the bottom)
The Camping Dirt
Charleston Lake Provincial Park is a popular family and fishing destination. It is located on a large lake a little over 3 hours from Toronto via the Hwy 401 and under 2 hours from Ottawa via Hwy 416 & 401. It offers beaches, a Discovery Centre with kids programs, playground and amphitheatre, and hiking trails. The park is open mid- May through Canadian Thanksgiving in October.
The park has 240 car camping sites in three campgrounds. It also has 4 yurts, 10 interior sites accessible by hiking or boat, 1 cabin accessible by water only, and 3 group campsites accommodating up to 40 people.
Most of the car camping sites are best suited for multiple tents and small to medium sized trailers. Take note of the descriptions on the reservation site if you have a large trailer.
Bayside Site #266
Each campground has a comfort station with toilets, showers, and laundry facilities. Vault toilets and water taps are located throughout, as well.
Meadowlands is in a younger forested area, so some of the campsites are sunny. It is close to the Discovery Centre and a couple of trailheads. There are a number of sites that accommodate larger trailers. Approximately a quarter of the sites have hydro.
Bayside has tent and small – medium trailer sites. Some of the sites have at least partial shade and others are quite sunny. About 8 sites close to the beach have water access. Approximately two-thirds of the sites have hydro. The day use beach and canoe/kayak/paddle boat rentals are adjacent. The sandy beach is very nice with a roped shallow swimming area, perfect for families. A short path from the campground leads directly to the Discovery Centre and a couple of trailheads. This campground also has nice accessible toilets near the entrance.
Shade Ridge has nicely shaded sites and a beach of its own with dog area. Approximately one-third of sites have hydro. A path leads to the amphitheatre and day use beach.
Things to do in the park
Hiking trails range from 1.7km to 10km, easy to difficult. The boardwalk trail is accessible, great for folks with mobility concerns or families with strollers. The Discovery Centre has lots of programming for kids during the summer as well as for adults!And a trip to the playground will keep kids busy. The roads are also bicycle friendly.
The two beaches are welcome respite on hot days.
Charleston Lake has a long history as a prime fishing locale. The park has a boat launch so you can fish for trout, bass, crappie, perch and pike. It’s a great lake for kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards, as well, with many inlets to explore. A portage takes you between Charleston and an adjacent lake. Birding is another activity at various times of the year.
We camped at Charleston Lake Provincial Park recently and enjoyed an easy hike along some of the Westside Trails. The Boardwalk trail is accessible for folks with wheelchairs or strollers and quite lovely. The remainder of the Quiddity trail is not accessible but a moderately easy walk. Beautiful rock outcroppings and a canopy of trees provide cover and scenery. Make sure you use bug repellant because you’ll go through buggy marshlands.
The shallow waters of Presqu’ile Bay claimed many a ship in the 1800s, particularly in periods of dense fog. The lighthouse and fog station provided a vital service. The first lighthouse keeper took up residence in 1840 and the lighthouse was ultimately automated in 1952. The original stone exterior of the 69 foot tall tower deteriorated rapidly and was clad in cedar shakes, now painted. Other lighthouses in the area were not as lucky and the remains of one can be viewed through a viewfinder outside the Lighthouse Interpretive Centre.
Friends of Presqu’ile Park sponsors Artists in the Park, whose artwork is available in the Lighthouse Gift Shop, along with other handcrafts. Free wifi is also available outside the Lighthouse Interpretive Centre in the summer, so you can check in with family, upload awesome pictures, or do a little office work with a better view than any of your co-workers.
Lake Ontario is not the deepest, nor the largest, of the Great Lakes, but weather can make dramatic changes in conditions. The waters may be calm and nearly still, or wind can whip up the waves in an almost ocean-like fashion.
We have had the pleasure of watching sun and clouds move across the lake as well as storms and fog roll in, right from our campsite.
The Main Beach at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park 20 mins outside of Perth, Ontario, is family-friendly and a great place to spend the day. The water is shallow and you can rent canoes & kayaks to paddle around the bay. There is a well-equipped playground directly adjacent to the beach area for convenience. Picnic tables and benches in full sun or shade make it a nice place to sit and relax.
There is a day-use beach and boat launch in the park, as well.