IMG_E6149Ontario Parks Challenge

Goal for 2021

A New Year is always a good time for reflection and to set goals, or resolutions for yourself. Last year we signed up for the 52 Hike Challenge and managed to go for a hike at least 52 times throughout the year. Turns out it was the perfect challenge to get us through a strange year. And it was nice to have something to work towards. So this year we decided to set a new challenge for ourselves. One that assumes that travel restrictions will remain in place. Our goal for 2021 is to visit as many of Ontario’s provincial parks as we can.

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IMG_E6149Ontario | The Cabin

January 2021 – 4 days 

Ontario has been under a strict province-wide lockdown since December 26, 2020. So to safely ring in the New Year we decided to head up to the cabin for the long weekend. There is no running water or electricity there and the road leading into the cabin is not maintained, so we usually have to walk in with all our supplies, including water, during the winter months. But we were up for the challenge.

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IMG_E6149Ontario | MacGregor Point Provincial Park

January 2021 – 2 days 

MacGregor Point is located along the sandy shores of Lake Huron and is open all-year round. It offers a variety of activities depending on the season. In the winter the park is transformed into a winter wonderland and features cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating and snowmobiling. A section of the campground is even open and offers camping in 12 yurts and just under 100 electrical sites for visitors who wish to spend the night in the park. We were among those visitors who planned to spend a night in the park. In the winter. 

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Ontario | The Cabin

April 2021 – 3 days 

As of April 3, 2021, Ontario went back into a province-wide shutdown. This doesn’t impact us too much since Toronto has been in some combination of lockdown or shutdown for the past five to six months. Provincial parks are still open for day-use, overnight camping, including backcountry camping however is closed. We had a few camping trips planned for April, largely because reserving a campsite during the summer has become next to impossible and we didn’t want to get eaten alive by the mosquitoes and black flies later in the spring. So for the Easter long weekend we decided to head up to the cabin to get away from everything and figure out our game plan for the next few weeks (which let’s be real, is likely going to involve visiting the cabin again).

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Ontario | The Cabin

May 2021 – 2 days 

Spring is in full force here in Ontario. It’s usually a fine line between when new growth starts to appear and the mosquitoes come out to play. We decided to risk it anyway and visit the cabin in mid-May as this very well might be our last visit for the next couple of months.

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Ontario | The Blue Mountains

May 2021 – 3 days 

The Blue Mountains are located along the southern shore of Georgian Bay and feature a variety of recreational activities for every season. During the winter it is a top destination in southwestern Ontario for snowboarding, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. During the spring, summer and fall there are plenty of activities in and around the rugged shores of Georgian Bay, including hiking, swimming, fishing and boating.

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Ontario | Manitoulin Island

June 2021 – 2 days 

Manitoulin Island is located within Lake Huron and is the largest freshwater island in the world. It also contains more than 100 inland lakes, some of which have their own islands within an island. It has the largest lake in a freshwater island and the largest island in a lake on an island in a lake in the world. Essentially Manitoulin Island is a big nesting doll of islands. It is also incredibly scenic and features many outdoor activities and attractions in and around the water.

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Ontario | Road Trip

June/July 2021 – 9 days 

We booked the last week of June off to go on a road trip within Ontario. Public health measures have been gradually easing and after spending the past couple of weeks moving and unpacking, we were looking forward to unplugging from the world around us and spending time in nature.

Provincial Parks: Morris Tract, Inverhuron, Sauble Falls, Misery Bay, Fairbank, Windy Lake, Halfway Lake, Marten River, Amable du Fond River, Samuel de Champlain, Driftwood, Bonnechere, Alexander Stewart, Fitzroy, Burnt Lands, Rideau River, Charleston Lake, Silver Lake, Sharbot Lake and Petroglyphs

Ontario | Road Trip

July 2021 – 4 days 

It’s been a hot and dry summer here in Ontario. We’ve even had our fair share of hazy days and smoky conditions due to wildfires in northwestern Ontario. We took a few days off to head up north to go camping and beat the heat and were surprised to see just how hazy the skies really were.

Provincial Parks: Awenda, Six Mile Lake, Sturgeon Bay, Restoule, Mikisew, Oxtongue River-Ragged Falls, J. Albert Bauer and Arrowhead

IMG_E6149Ontario | Algonquin Provincial Park

August 2021 – 4 days

Every year we head into the interior of Algonquin Provincial Park by canoe to backcountry camp for a few days. Last year during one of the toughest portages on our route to Erables Lake, we met someone on the trail that recommended Manitou Lake. Sure, one of the portages is a grueling 1.4km in length, but the guy said it was relatively flat. With the promise that many of the sites on Manitou Lake  are reputed to have their own private sandy beaches, we were in. So we decided to give it a whirl, long portage and all. 

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IMG_E6149Ontario | Lake Erie

August 2021 – 3 days

Lake Erie is the southernmost and shallowest of the Great Lakes. It contains a large section of coastal wetlands and supports a variety of plants and animals. There are a few provincial parks scattered along the northern shore of Lake Erie, so we decided to take an extra long weekend and check them out. 

Provincial Parks: Trillium Woods, Port Bruce, John E. Pearce, Wheatley, Rondeau, Clear Creek Forest, Port Burwell, Turkey Point and Long Point

IMG_E6149Ontario | Northern Ontario

September 2021 – 15 days

We fell in love with Northern Ontario when we visited (not once, but twice) last summer. Even though we’re fully vaccinated, we’ve been a bit hesitant to travel abroad. So we decided to return to Northern Ontario this year, except this time, for longer. We also figured we’d share the experience with my mom and uncle who wanted to come along on the journey. So this begins our two-week adventure up north.

Provincial Parks: Finlayson Point, Kap-Kig-Iwan, Esker Lakes, Kettle Lakes, René Brunelle, Fushimi Lake, Macleod, Pigeon River, Kakabeka Falls, Quetico, Caliper Lake, Sioux Narrows, Rushing River, Blue Lake, Aaron, Sandbar Lake, Sleeping Giant, Ouimet Canyon, Rainbow Falls, Neys, White Lake, Lake Superior, Pancake Bay, Batchawana Bay, Chutes, Grundy Lake and Oastler Lake

National Parks: Pukaskwa

IMG_E6149Ontario | Algonquin Provincial Park

September 2021 – 2 days

Algonquin Provincial Park is the first provincial park that was created in Ontario. It contains a series of interconnected lakes, rivers and creeks that create the perfect conditions to canoe or just enjoy the water. It is also reputed to be one of the best places in the province to enjoy the fall foliage. While every summer we plan a backcountry canoe trip into the interior, this year we decided to return in the fall to see whether the fall colours lived up to the hype.

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IMG_E6149Ontario | The Cabin

November 2021 – 2 days

It’s been awhile since we’ve been to the cabin. Between moving, unpacking, staying on top of household chores, yard work, hosting family and friends at our new house, and taking a few road trips this summer, we just haven’t had much time for anything else. So when we finally had a free weekend in November, we decided to visit the cabin.

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IMG_E6149United States | Road Trip

November 2021 – 10 days

We’ve spent the past two years exploring Ontario during the pandemic. While we’ve enjoyed visiting as many provincial parks as we can and experiencing more of Ontario’s rugged wilderness, we were ready for a change of scenery. We’ve been a bit hesitant to hop on any planes, so when the United States announced that it would be opening its land border to us Canadians in the beginning of November, we planned a last minute road trip south of the border.

States: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio

National Parks: Great Smoky Mountains and Mammoth Cave

IMG_E6149Ontario | Killarney Provincial Park

December 2021 – 2 days

Killarney Provincial Park is located along the rugged shores of Georgian Bay. It is open year-round and provides a variety of activities depending on the season. In the winter the park features a few trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Killarney also offers walk-in winter camping, six heated yurts and two heated camp cabins.

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