Presqu’ile Provincial Park

 

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Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: July 2019

Presqu’ile is the French word for peninsula. It is situated along the north shore of Lake Ontario near Brighton and features one of the larger wetlands along the lake. It contains forests, marshes and sand dunes, leading to diverse vegetation, ecosystems and habitats for the flora and fauna in the park. It also features a long sandy beach making this an ideal spot to swim, hike, and camp.

Day 1: The beach (or lack thereof)

After spending the last two nights at Charleston Lake Provincial Park at one of the interior sites that required us to canoe in, we were ready for some rest and relaxation at Presqu’ile Provincial Park. Especially since we had an intense morning of paddling to beat the storm that was rolling in. And for the most part, we did manage to escape the bulk of the rain.

On the drive to Presqu’ile, we made a detour at the Tyendinaga Cavern & Caves, which boasts of being the largest natural cavern in Ontario. Tours run every 20 minutes and take about 45 minutes to an hour. Our guide first led us around the property and provided some history of the cave: how it was formed and discovered. We then went inside the cave to learn more about some of the cave formations featured underground. For a cave in Ontario, it was pretty neat. But, compared to some of the other caves we’ve been to around the world, it was meh. Either way, it offered much relief from the sweltering sun.

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Once we finished up our cave tour, we made some lunch at one of the picnic tables on the grounds above the cave area before heading over to Presqu’ile to set up shop for the rest of the weekend. There are around 300 campsites scattered around 8 campgrounds in Presqu’ile. We booked a site at the Lakeside Campground, which offers non-electrical sites. It is also located a few steps from the lakeshore.

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After setting up our tent, we drove down to the beach area. We first stopped at Owen’s Point (1.6km loop, rated easy) to hike along the short trail since it was located near the beach and is reputed to offer excellent opportunities to see migrating shorebirds along the beach. If the mosquitoes don’t hinder you, the high water levels certainly will. We turned back after a few minutes since the trail was a mosquito’s paradise and a soggy wet mess.

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Instead, we went over to the “beach”. The water levels have been exceptionally high this year. The beach section consisted of a super narrow strip of sand. So narrow that we couldn’t even lay our towels out. Picnic tables were in the water. The plus side is that you could walk out into the water for quite awhile until it started to get deep.

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Once we got out of the water we pretty much left the beach area since there wasn’t really any spot for us to sit down or anything. We dried off and decided to try our luck at another trail in the park. We hiked along the Newcastle Trail (4.3km loop, rated easy), which leads through the forest and fields nestled in the heart of the peninsula. The path is marked by orange plastic blazes and connects with the Pioneer Trail, which is marked by yellow plastic blazes. We contemplated hiking along both of these trails, but the abundance of mosquitoes was a huge deterrent. Especially since we forgot our bug spray back at our campsite. It just wasn’t an ideal situation.

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We emerged from the bush covered in mosquito bites. My legs looked as if they were covered in chicken pox. Fun times. We hopped back in the car and continued driving along Lighthouse Lane to get to the Presqu’ile Lighthouse. There’s a short path from the parking lot to the lighthouse.

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On the drive back to our campsite, we decided to pull over at the picnic area to make dinner since the area provided great views overlooking Lake Ontario. We moved a picnic table into the shade and made some tacos for dinner.

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In the evening we attended the ranger program, which was more or less an overview of some app to identify animals and plants. They held a few events throughout the day where people could capture bugs, take pictures of them, and send them through the app.

Day 2: Hiking the rest of the trails

We made breakfast at the picnic area overlooking the lake. Afterwards we drove back to our campsite to take down our tent and finish up hiking the rest of the trails in the park. With bug spray in hand, we were ready to hike along the Pioneer Trail (3.8km loop, rated easy). The hike was immensely more enjoyable with a thick layer of bug spray lathered on the skin, including the face. The path is marked by yellow plastic blazes and meandered through the forest and a meadow.

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Once we finished up, we headed over to hike along Jobes’ Woods Trail (1.0km loop, rated easy). The trail loops around an area that was once part of a farm settled by the Jobes family.

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We had one more hike on our list: the Marsh Trail (1.2km loop, rated easy). Unfortunately, much of the boardwalk was underwater because of the high water levels this spring, so the trail was closed off. The viewing tower that provides a nice view overlooking the marsh was still open though.

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It’s too bad the water levels have been particularly high this year. I guess we’ll just have to come back to see what the beach at Presqu’ile is actually supposed to look like when it’s not mostly underwater.

L & K

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