Our favourite Ontario Parks for camping
April 7, 2014
Every "favourites" question for parents has two parts: before kids and after kids. Here’s our top picks for grown ups and family camping.
Our hands down favourite camping before kids was our backcountry walking camping trip through Algonquin. We did the Highland backpacking trail over 5 days. It was lovely and peaceful. Full of mosquitoes, though. We were wearing Off Deep Woods (which is a heavy duty mosquito repellent) and it seemed to be making no difference. Although the mosquito situation was quite bad, that is not what I recall from the trip. My best memory is of camping on the bank of the lake with no one else around. We saw a couple of tents on the other side, but nothing else. It’s backcountry, so the campsites have quite a lot of privacy. I feel like life is quite rushed and busy and complicated in my everyday life. If you feel like that, then doing backcountry camping is the perfect remedy. Take at least four days to still your mind, be in nature and start wondering if your life is on the path you want it to be.
Killarney is another fave. The why is expressed in photos, not words. I think part of my fond memory of this park is the town of Killarney itself, which has a population of…500. With many houses right on the shore of Georgian Bay, it just seems like such a perfect place to live. On another trip we actually couldn’t get a spot in the Park and ended up camping at a private campground, the Roche Rouge. We had a great experience there. Near our campsite there was a spot of flat rocks where we went at night to watch shooting stars.
My final recommendation for family camping is Earl Rowe Provincial Park. It’s only an hour away from Brampton or Toronto, so it’s good for families to try out family camping for a night or two. It has a few playgrounds, something that is very important to our 5 and 3 year olds. We, the grownups, enjoyed the good privacy of the campsites. There is a beach that the kids really enjoyed, even though it was murky. It was a little hard at first to let go of my cleanliness mindset, but the kids’ enjoyment of the lake spoke for itself. Reminder to self: let the kids get messy, they can take a shower later.
Another beautiful spot with a lot of privacy but accessible by car was at small lake in Gatineau Park in Quebec. I’m listing it under my favourite camping spots in Ontario because we drove there from Toronto and it is only an hour away from Ottawa. The campground is at Taylor Lake, a small lake with just 34 camp sites. Most of the campsites are right by the water and if you have kids you can play on the water edge, looking for frogs. Of course, if you have toddlers, you have to watch them constantly, or choose other sites that don’t have such good access to water. There is also a lovely sand beach for the kids at the bigger lake, Lake Phillipe.