Bon Echo Provincial Park is home to the 100 meter high Mazinaw Rock. It’s popular with rock climbers and also noted for the largest visible collection of native pictographs.

Check it out…

Take a tour with us of the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge in Campbellford, Ontario. It’s part of the Rotary Trail system and Trans Canada Trail. The 300 foot long pedestrian bridge is suspended 30 feet above the Trent River.

You can access the bridge from the parking lot leading to the River Gorge Trail in Ferris Provincial Park. On the other side, access it from the lot alongside the Ontario Power Generation Plant or Trent Severn Waterway Locks 11 & 12.

 

A tour of the day use areas in one of our favourite Ontario parks. It has two swimming beaches, a boat launch and docks, group picnic shelter, grills, change rooms, comfort station with sinks, toilets, and showers, and a pay washer & dryer. We missed the playground but trust us,  it is terrific. It has new play equipment, a large field to run around in, picnic tables for the family, and is close to the comfort station.

 

Here is a short time-lapse recording of the sunset over Silver Lake Provincial Park along Highway 7 in Lanark County between 25 mins southwest of Perth.

It was shot on June 1st. Dragonflies & birds ruled the day while frogs & loons sang through the night.

 

If you’re a fan of craft brewing, like we are, consider looking up micro-breweries in the vicinity of your next camping trip. Many offer tours, tastings, food, and outdoor entertainment. And of course, sales of their beers!

Ontario Craft Brewers has an excellent interactive map to help with your day-trip planning. They even have a free Beer Locator app available from the Apple Store. Check it out!

Churchkey Brewing

If you find yourself camping near the Trent-Severn Waterway or Rideau Canal, consider a day-trip to one of the locks. They are great places for picnics, fishing, watching boats, and checking out the mechanicals of locks.

Picnic at Lock 20

Picnic at TSW Lock 20, Peterborough

The locks are operational mid-May through mid-October but the surrounding grounds are usually accessible year-round. Rustic camping is available on a first-come first-serve basis at all of the locks while they are in operation. Overnight boaters receive a free campsite with their moorage fee (90¢/ft of boat length per night for 2016). For others wishing to camp, the 2016 rate is $4.90 per person per night. Picnic tables and washrooms are provided for everyone visiting the lock.

Fishing at TSW Lock 24 (1)

Fishing at TSW Lock 24, Lakefield

A new feature at several of the locks are cabins and oTENTik accommodations. Two stations along the Trent-Severn offer these and four along the Rideau Canal. They are reservable through Parks Canada.

Walking Trail Ptbo Lif Lock

Walking trail along the Peterborough Lift Lock in Autumn

Some of the locks have dams directly adjacent to them while others divert a river or lake away from the dam to the locks through a man-made canal. The later often have more expansive grounds, walking paths, and even wooded areas to explore. Swimming near a dam is expressly prohibited!

 

Rideau Flight Locks

Flight Locks on the Rideau Canal in the heart of Ottawa

The Rideau Canal runs 202 km between Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario. It winds through several lakes and rivers as well as sections of constructed canals. There are a total of 45 locks at 23 stations. Some of the stations contain “flight” locks, two or more locks in a row. The Canal was built in 1832 for military purposes after the War of 1812, but is now primarily used for pleasure boating. Ice skating on the Rideau Canal is a famously popular winter activity in Ottawa.

Lift Lock

The hydraulic Peterborough Lift Lock

The Trent-Severn Waterway runs 386 km between Trenton on Lake Ontario and Port Severn on Lake Huron. The first lock was built in 1833 and the entire system was completed in 1920. Pleasure boaters use the scenic waterway to travel between numerous lakes, rivers, and Georgian Bay, and it forms part of the popular boating route called the Great Loop. There are 45 locks in all, including two sets of flight locks, two hydraulic lift locks, and a marine railway. Ice skating takes place every winter on the Trent Canal below the Peterborough Lift Lock.

Camping Junkies is adding video tours of the locks we visit in our travels. Be sure to check out these terrific National Historic Sites whenever you have the chance. Happy Camping!

We’ll be adding photos of campsites we’ve stayed in at various Provincial Parks. Check out our Facebook album with photos and comments for sites in Presqu’ile Provincial Park.

Presqu’ile Provincial Park Campsites

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If you find yourself at Arrowhead Provincial Park or in the Huntsville area, make a short jaunt to the Dyer Memorial Nature Reserve. It was created in 1956 by Clifton Dyer in memory of his wife, Betsy. He joined her three years afterwards in 1959.

Dave’s family lived in Huntsville for a time when he was a child. Life in a small Ontario town in the 60s could present a challenge for parents trying to entertain five kids. Fred and Lorraine would pack the children and some picnic fixings into their Mini Minor and make the perilous dirt road trek to the Dyer Memorial, to enjoy the splendid grounds.

Back then it was impeccably kept, like a miniature Butchart Gardens, according to Dave. Decades later, the trust set up to manage the 155 acre site had run out of money. In 2010, the Muskoka Conservancy stepped in and the parcel was donated to continue public enjoyment of the naturally significant lands. They restored the Monument and now maintain several acres around it with native plants. The remaining area has been left to naturalize, providing excellent habitat along the Big East River.

Turning left out of Arrowhead Provincial Park, you can spot the small signs on Williamsport Road, directing you past the very interesting Williamsport Cemetery to Dyer Memorial Road, which is a minimally maintained dirt road. Four wheel drive is recommended after any rain. It’s not a path for fancy, low-slung cars, but that makes it all the better!

Do make an effort to visit this unexpected gem!

 

Check out another very short, but nifty drone shot of the Memorial in winter.

Anyone who is winter camping right now knows the importance of being prepared for varying weather conditions. The same holds true for every season whether you need to provide shelter from the sun, wind, mosquitoes, or rain… and more rain.

It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent. – Dave Barry

Build an Ark

We’ve counted on at least one little rainstorm every year we’ve camped but the summer of 2014 was our Year of the Rain. It rained every single time we went camping, every time! The rest of the summer was lovely and sunny, just not the days we went camping. Our friends and family stopped watching the weather report and simply asked us when our next camping trip was planned.

Stormy Weather

We planned a five-day trip to our favourite family campground in Presqu’ile Provincial Park with two of our kids.  On the second day, we walked down to the beach to watch the storm clouds roll in over Lake Ontario. We headed back to camp to batten down the hatches. No stranger to a few raindrops, we folded up chairs, tarped our camp kitchen, tossed the firewood in the car, tucked shoes in tents and zipped them up. As the rain continued, we all took shelter in our tents with books, e-readers, and iPods. After an hour of dampness, the kids texted us to say they were taking shelter in the car to charge up their devices. We suggested they drive up to the lighthouse centre to pick up some free wifi and check the weather forecast.

Reading refuge inside the car

Word came back that there was nothing but rain in the forecast. The kids headed into Brighton and found Lighthouse Books where Madeline picked up more reading material, and then with nothing else to do, they ventured on to a Tim Horton’s in Trenton. At one point, the rain was coming down so hard, they had to pull over.

Meanwhile, back at camp, we were hold up in our tent with some tunes, a bag of pistachios, and bottle of wine. It was kinda romantic. Until we ventured out to bail water out of the kids’ tent. We found our tent had become waterfront property. We briefly considered building an arc but decided to save the wood for a nice campfire when the storm finally passed.

To Tarp or Not to Tarp

We feel that you can basically break campers down into two groups, those who stretch tarps between the trees across their campsite, and those who don’t. There definitely are some benefits to tarping if your tents are unreliable or there are a lot of falling pine needles in your site. They can also provide a nice sense of community space when groups of campers are sharing a spot. For us, we choose not to tarp our campsite. We like to sit and look up at the clouds and stars, and some spots aren’t appropriately treed for tarps. Basically, we’re just lazy and don’t want an additional thing to set up and break down. Plus, it occasionally seems to involve scampering up a tree which in our case is more likely to end in injury.

Arrowhead Camping Trip

Our solution has been to bungie down a couple of small tarps over our drying rack and portable camp grill. We should probably add one for the picnic table since those wooden benches take forever to dry! Something to keep in mind, however, is that what falls from the sky, can sometimes splash back up from the ground. TIP: Be sure to bring a little whisk broom and dustpan. Besides being useful for sweeping out tents and trailers, they are good at brushing off the dirt after a heavy rainstorm.

Ultimately, our weather solution has been to purchase a small pop-up tent trailer. When the weather turns ugly, be it rain, wind, or bugs, we can take refuge inside and still feel close to nature.

Raining

This is video of our drive to Bon Echo Provincial Park in early October. The fall colours were beautiful! We travelled Highway 7 from Peterborough to Kaladar and then Highway 41 to the park outside of Cloyne.

Bon Echo is one of our favourite parks to visit in autumn! The popular park is quieter in the fall and the scenery along its many trails is breathtaking.

Don’t forget to stop at the Truly Canadian Chip Truck on Highway 7 in Tweed!

chip-truck