Awenda Provincial Park

Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: August 2020

We had such a great time in Northern Ontario in the beginning of July that we decided to come back in August. This time we planned to go not as far and to stay for a bit longer. We planned to visit new places that we didn’t have time for on our  first trip as well as return to some of our favourite spots. And this time we were less concerned about the bug situation since we were going later in the season.

Our first stop on our second road trip: Awenda Provincial Park. Below is a map of the parks we visited on our second road trip around Lake Superior.

Awenda is located on a peninsula along the shore of Georgian Bay and is just under 2 hours from Toronto. It offers camping in six campgrounds, has several sandy beaches, and features a variety of easy to moderate trails that weave through the different habitats in the park.

We left Toronto after dinner at 7:30p.m as we figured (more like hoped) that traffic wouldn’t be too bad. We arrived at the park two hours later. It was already dark outside, so after setting up our tent, we went to bed.

When we woke up the next morning, we decided to go for a hike right away to warm up and stretch our legs. We first hiked along Wendat Trail (4.5km, rated easy), which loops around Kettle Lake. This lake is thought to be a kettle lake formed by the gradual melting of a large buried piece of ice left behind by retreating glaciers.

Afterwards we drove to the beach area. Awenda has four natural sandy beaches along the shores of Georgian Bay (five if you include the designated pet beach). There’s a few trails that are accessible from the beach area. We first hiked along the Beaver Pond Trail (680m, rated easy). The trail loops through a nature reserve zone and most of the path is along a wooden boardwalk. There are a few interpretive signs that provide details of the lives, behaviour and habitats of beavers and how beavers have altered the area in the park.

We then hiked along the Beach Trail (3.6km, rated easy) to scope out the various beaches. The trail is flat and sandy and provided good motivation to finish up hiking so we could go for a swim. Below were our observations on the beaches:

  • 1st Beach – the biggest and easily the busiest beach as it’s located close to the main parking lot
  • Pet Beach – the beach is more narrow, has good shade coverage, was the most secluded and least busiest
  • 2nd Beach – there wasn’t much of a beach due to the high water levels
  • 3rd Beach – really nice sandy beach, but also very busy and required walking at least a kilometre to get to
  • 4th Beach – the high water levels have claimed this beach area

When we returned to the parking lot, we hiked along the Nipissing Trail (1km, rated moderate). The trail consists of 155 steps up the Nipissing Bluff, which is a raised beach created 5,500 years ago by glacial Lake Nipissing.

We finished up at 11:30a.m and walked back to the car to change into our swimsuits. Based on our earlier walk along the Beach Trail: we decided to go for a swim at the Pet Beach. We grabbed our towels, a snack and found a nice sandy spot in the shade. Even if the 1st and 3rd beach weren’t busy, we probably still would have chosen the Pet Beach as it provided ample shade and more privacy.

Afterwards we returned to our campsite (#121 in Bear Campground) to eat some lunch and pack up our tent. On our way out of the park, we stopped to hike along the Robitaille Homestead Trail (3km, rated easy). The trail passes by the foundations of the Robitaille’s house and farm, a French Canadian family that lived and farmed here between 1917 to 1948, before leading to an ancient sand dune system.

We finished up our hike at 2p.m and left the park to drive to our next destination. Overall it was a good start to our second Northern Ontario road trip.

From here it’s a 4 hour drive to Windy Lake Provincial Park.


26 thoughts on “Awenda Provincial Park

  1. kagould17 says:

    Looks like a lot to see and do in just this one area. I imagine it would have been much busier in a normal August. Water levels are up here as well n most cases, due to the wet June and July. Thanks for sharing. Stay well. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Many of the parks in Ontario have been busier than usual this year because of all the travel restrictions. There isn’t really much else to do. I can’t complain too much as I’ve spent a lot of time exploring Ontario’s provincial parks, so I get why other people are visiting too. I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely Awenda was and how there are so many activities in the park. I can’t believe how close it is to Toronto and that this was my first time visiting. Thanks for reading. Take care.

  2. Ab says:

    Awenda is a lovely park. We’ve camped there twice with friends, before our little one came into our lives, and loved it. It was nice to relive the park through your eyes. You guys really got around this summer! 😀

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I had such low expectations for Awenda given its close proximity to Toronto. But the campground was surprisingly really quiet, the trails were all very well maintained (and not busy!), and the beach area (or areas) was really nice. I would come here again. We were thinking that this might be a good spot to do some snowshoeing in the winter. And yes, we certainly tried to make the most of exploring around Ontario this summer. In retrospect, we should have taken a two-week trip to Northern Ontario, but we were optimistic that the pandemic would blow over. It didn’t.

      • Ab says:

        We’re prepared to do another Ontario roadtrip vacation next summer. 😅 Awenda is great. I can’t recall if you’ve done Pinery before but that’s also great and closeby. And Sandbanks in Prince Edward County is gorgeous and only 2 hours from Toronto if you’ve never been. Not much in terms of hiking but the beaches are stunning and the kayaking is great.

        Snowshoeing sounds lovely too! Put that down as an idea for winter.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Might as well start thinking about next year’s summer vacation now! This year we were quite lucky and were able to reserve many of our campsites at the last minute. Somehow I think next summer might be different given how popular Ontario parks seem to be these days. I used to go camping with my family every summer at either Long Point, Pinery or Sandbanks, but haven’t been back in years. It would be nice to revisit and enjoy those beautiful sandy beaches. And to collect those park patches of course. We’ll have to compare notes for our road trips!

      • Ab says:

        Yes, for sure. You seem to know what you’re doing so I’d like to know your itinerary! Lol. I loosely started creating a wishlist for next summer already. I think I’m gonna need more vacation days. Lol.

        And yes, I suspect the parks will be busier next summer if we’re in pandemic conditions again.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I’ve had a lot more free time these days, so I’ve been busy trip planning. I’d like to collect as many of those Ontario parks patches as I can next year, so I’m mapping out the most efficient way to do that. But yes, once I get my itinerary figured out, I’m happy to share. No matter how much vacation I get, I always seem to want (need?) more.

  3. Lookoom says:

    Reading Robitaille’s name reminds me that there is a French-speaking community on this peninsula, around Lafontaine, and Robitaille is the most common family name. Several are known in the media or show business. Thanks for the hike.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for that fun fact about how the Robitaille is the most common family name around Lafontaine. I always enjoy it when parks provide more information about the history of the area and how the park was formed.

  4. carolinehelbig says:

    I’m surprised I’ve never heard of Awenda before this…and so close to Toronto (I was at Killbear a long time ago). What a great road trip. There are so many spectacular spots along the northern lakes

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I thought the same thing when I came across Awenda. Surprisingly it wasn’t very busy given how close it is to Toronto and that it has a decent beach (or rather beaches). I’m glad we’ve had more of a chance this year to discover new trails and parks in Ontario. Thanks for reading.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was a nice area that we discovered that is reasonably close to home. It was great being able to hike in the morning and then spend time at a nice sandy beach in the afternoon. This park certainly seemed to have it all. I really enjoyed it as well 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s a charming park that has great hiking trails and a lovely sandy beach (or rather beaches). Glad we were able to spend some time here and enjoy the lovely views. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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