Hiking in Presqu’ile Provincial

Length of stay1 day
April 2021

Presqu’ile Provincial Park is situated along Lake Ontario just west of Prince Edward County. Presqu’ile in French means “almost island” as it is joined to the mainland by an extremely narrow piece of land. It is open year-round, features a long sandy beach and has a variety of trails that wind through the various habitats in the park, including forests, wetlands and sand dunes.

After spending the Easter long weekend up at the cabin, it was time to return home. But not before making a detour along the drive back to Toronto at Presqu’ile. We rolled into the park around 11:30a.m. The Park Office was open so I picked up a park crest and sweater (nearly half my wardrobe is filled with Ontario parks shirts, no regrets).

We initially planned to hike along the Marsh Trail (1.2km loop, rated easy), which mostly follows along a boardwalk and features two viewing towers overlooking a marsh. However, the trailhead was blocked off and there was a sign to indicate that the trail was closed. Due to record high water levels in the Spring of 2019, the boardwalk was heavily damaged and therefore became closed off to the public. The boardwalk is supposed to re-open this year, but I guess the work is still underway.

Instead we drove along Lighthouse Lane to hike along the Newcastle Trail. The trailhead marks the start for both the Newcastle Trail (4.3km, rated easy, signed with orange markers) and the Pioneer Trail (3.8km, rated easy, signed with yellow markers). The trails form two interconnected loops for those that want a longer hike.

In the early 1800s some of the forest here was cleared for the development of the proposed town of Newcastle. When plans for the town were abandoned, settlers built homes and farms on the peninsula. They were later abandoned. Some of the old fields were reforested with conifer plantations while in others succession is occurring.

The trail weaves through the forest and luckily contains some boardwalks as the ground was quite muddy and wet in certain sections.

Midway through the trail leads out to the road. From here we made a brief detour to walk to the Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse. There are a few signs that provide more details about the lighthouse and its history. It is the second oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the north shore of Lake Ontario. It is also the only natural harbour between Toronto and Prince Edward County, but the channel is very narrow and nearly impossible to sail upwind into. In the last half of the 1880s, at least eight vessels were claimed by autumn storms within sight of this point.

From here we walked back to the Newcastle Trail to continue our hike. The second half was more challenging than the first in that there were more puddles to dodge over and around. No wonder we didn’t encounter too many other hikers on this portion of the trail. But we made it back to the trailhead and our shoes managed to (mostly) stay dry.

After wrapping up our hike we drove to Calf Pasture Point, which features a viewing platform that overlooks Presqu’ile Bay. The marsh here is the largest protected wetland on the north shore of Lake Ontario and is an important area for many bird species. In recent years there’s been a decline in some marsh species likely due to a suite of unfavourable conditions, including low water levels, pollution of wintering grounds in the Gulf of Panama and disturbance by humans.

We then drove to the trailhead for the Jobes’ Woods Trail (1km, rated easy) to embark on one last hike. The trail winds through the forest and contains a few sections along a wooden boardwalk. This area was once part of a farm settled by Thomas and Ezekiel Jobes in 1835. The part of their farm in this area remained relatively undisturbed by settlement activity and today contains one of the oldest deciduous woodlots at Presqu’ile.

The trail is well signed by blue markers and contains a series of numbered posts from #1 to #6. Apparently there is an interpretive guide that contains more information about the ecology of the Jobes’ forest that is usually available at the trailhead. But of course that was before COVID-19.

On our drive out of the park we stopped at the beach area. We visited Presqu’ile a couple of years ago when the water levels were really high and much of the beach area was underwater. It was nice to return to see what the beach is normally like, which is quite sandy and expansive.

And with that we finished up at Presqu’ile. From here we continued our drive back to Toronto.


My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

54 thoughts on “Hiking in Presqu’ile Provincial

  1. ourcrossings says:

    What a lovely place to visit and stretch your legs at! I love lighthouses and I love the Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse. Is it open for visitors? No matter how old I am, I never outgrow the desire to collect souvenirs from our travels. And, when it comes to national park souvenirs and merchandise, I end up purchasing more than necessary. I know that in Yosemite National Park, you are able to buy a grow-a-tree kit from the park’s gift shops. The kits come with everything you need to grow your own sequoia, including seeds and a miniature greenhouse. All you need to do is plant the seeds and ensure they have plenty of sunlight and water. Thanks for sharing and Happy Earth Day. Aiva 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Same, I love all the various shapes, sizes and designs of lighthouses. I’m not sure if the Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse is open to visitors. There is a Lighthouse Centre though, but it’s only open during the summer. I’m glad I’m not the only one who collects souvenirs. When I first started travelling I never used to do this, but I’ve come to realize that it’s nice to have something to remember your trip by. I love that Yosemite has a grow-a-tree kit in their gift shop. I’ve always wanted to take a road trip through California and visit all the various national parks. When I finally visit Yosemite, I’ll make sure to pick up this kit. What a great idea. Thanks for reading. Take care.

  2. kagould17 says:

    This looks like a great place to spend some time wandering. It has it all, history, scenery, water and beaches. We have abandoned our walk here at one place with boardwalks as it would be too difficult to keep physically distanced. We had planned to stop at this place on our 2018 drive across Canada, but the day got away on us, after we stopped to visit friends in Kingston. Stay well and thanks for sharing. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You bet. We camped here a couple of years ago and were able to enjoy the sandy beaches and go swimming. It’s a lovely area along the shore of Lake Ontario. It’s too bad you missed it on your road trip. I guess you’ll just need to come back someday (once the pandemic is under control). I have no shortage of recommendations of Ontario parks to visit! It wasn’t too busy at Presqu’ile when we visited. I’m sure the wet and muddy conditions on the trails was a huge deterrent for most people. All the more reason to get in as much hiking as we can before the crowds (and bugs) take over.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Agreed. It’s too bad the water was still too cold for swimming though, as that would have been an even better way to end a hike! I find lighthouses so fascinating and interesting too. I love all the various designs, shapes, and sizes. They are always so much fun to photograph. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

  3. Rose Vettleson says:

    This made me smile “(nearly half my wardrobe is filled with Ontario parks shirts, no regrets)”.😊 It’s interesting how a place so far away can interfere with decline of local marsh species. “…pollution of wintering grounds in the Gulf of Panama….” Happy Earth Day! Your blog does a wonderful job of showing us how beautiful natural parks are.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Spending time outdoors and exploring more of Ontario’s provincial parks has been one of the few things keeping me sane during this pandemic. It’s really made me appreciate how much green space we have in our own backyard. Since I’m working from home, I get to wear my Ontario parks shirts more often!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I don’t blame you, it’s hard to believe that this place exists here in Ontario. The landscape is beautiful with the mix between sand dunes, forests and marshes. The downside to visiting in the spring is that the trails are usually wet and muddy, however there are less people around. I usually have an extra pair of shoes in the car, just in case. I too am not a fan of wet or cold feet.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. The scenery is beautiful and there are lots of activities at Presqu’ile. It’s also close to a few other provincial parks like North Beach, Sandbanks, and Ferris. I’m not a fan of shopping either (even less so during the pandemic), but I do enjoy browsing through the park gift shops. I started collecting shirts from all the various parks I visited last summer, but it’s become a bit out of control now! Since I’m working from home, I get to wear them more often though.

  4. Ab says:

    Presquile was one of our pleasant discoveries last year and I look forward to visiting again this summer. We only spent time at the beach but look forward to exploring the trails that you highlighted on our next visit.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We visited Presqu’ile for the first time in the summer of 2019 and that was only because we couldn’t book a site at Sandbanks. It’s a great park with a variety of different habitats and activities. There are a few trails that are all reasonably short and sweet. We were hoping to hike along the Marsh Trail since it was closed when we first visited in 2019 due to high water levels, but it was still closed when we visited this year. It is supposed to reopen at some point in 2021 though.

      • Ab says:

        I didn’t even think about it being close to Sandbanks. But makes sense. Both look and feel very similar.

        Enjoy this beautiful weekend!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure. There aren’t too many places along Lake Ontario with sandy beaches and dunes. I can’t wait for warmer weather to better enjoy these beaches and go for a swim. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend so far too. The weather is a bit blah this morning, but we’re hoping to go for a hike later this afternoon.

      • Ab says:

        Enjoy your hike! We went up to Scarborough bluffs yesterday. It was lovely. If you’re looking for something more local, I highly recommend it!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I’ve never been to Scarborough Bluffs before, but it looks beautiful. I should definitely check it out before we move away from the city. We went to a few places yesterday, including Duclos Point Provincial Nature Reserve (not much here in terms of activities), Carden Alvar Provincial Park (short trail through the park) and the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site. The weather really wasn’t the greatest. It was cold, windy and rainy. It was nice to take a drive though and leave our apartment.

      • Ab says:

        I have not heard of a single one of those parks. Lol. Look forward to your recap! 🙂 And yes the Bluffs are worth a visit. It’s hard to believe something like this exists in Toronto.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Well you’re not missing much. The fact that there is no parking at Duclos Point should give a good indication that some nature reserves are better left to the wilderness. Carden Alvar at least has a legit trail and was pretty nice. If the weather is decent we’re going to try to stop off at the Bluffs Saturday morning on our way to the cabin.

      • Ab says:

        Yikes, yah parking is a must otherwise it just becomes so uncivilized. Lol.

        We are 20% of the way to the weekend! If you go to the Bluffs, there is a nice path just behind the Sandy beach area that’s a short but lovely walk.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Totally. At least the bugs weren’t out. In a couple of weeks you couldn’t pay me to go near that swamp. Thanks for tip about the walking path behind the beach area. I do like to get my steps in after all. Now we are 40% of the way to the weekend!

  5. Island Traveler says:

    You have me with the Lighthouse. For some reason, lighthouses fascinated me. It’s purpose, history, the view around it….then there’s that incredible hike to get there. Awesome post my friend!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Why thank you. I couldn’t agree with you more about lighthouses. They are always so much fun to photograph with all their different shapes, sizes and designs. It’s also neat learning more about their history including when and why they were built.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We camped here a couple summer’s ago mostly to go swimming and enjoy the nice sandy beach. It was nice to return to explore more of the hiking trails. It’s such a lovely area with no shortage of attractions and activities. The park is open year-round, which is probably why everything is so well maintained. It’s definitely a good thing as our parks have become more crowded than usual during the pandemic.

  6. Planet Paul says:

    Looks great, especially the beach.

    It’s amazing how places around the world end up with familiar names such as Newcastle.

    I wear gaters because I’ve had my boots slip off in mud. I know people think that they’re a bit much but if they prevent my boots from slipping off!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Us Canadians love to name our streets, places and lakes after things or events in the UK. I have definitely seen people with gaters on the trail. They can be helpful in the winter too to prevent snow from getting kicked up inside your boots. I’ll have to look into them now that we’re spending more time outdoors these days.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m such a sucker for lighthouses. They are so much fun to photograph with all their various designs, shapes and sizes. It’s also neat learning more about their history. The lighthouse at Presqu’ile definitely looks abnormally tall. Thanks for coming along on the adventure.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s sometimes hard to believe that we have such beautiful sandy beaches so close to home. It’s too bad the water was too cold to go swimming as that would have been the perfect way to end the day after going hiking. We’re planning on returning later in the summer to enjoy the beach.

  7. Christie says:

    Another wonderful hike! We’ve been in the area few times in the past, as we used to go to a cottage area, but never had time enough to stop🙂 I understood the park is also famous for butterflies? But not sure in which season/month.
    Oh, and such a neat lighthouse! I guess it’s not opened for visitors.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Yup, Presqu’ile typically hosts an annual Monarchs and Migrants weekend over the Labour Day weekend. It was cancelled last year due to COVID though. There is also a Lighthouse Centre that is typically open in the summer, but I think that too remained closed last year (and probably this year too) due to COVID. If you’re ever up in this area again I would highly recommend a visit to Presqu’ile. It’s such a beautiful park with a lot to offer. As an added bonus, it’s also open year-round.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I am such a sucker for lighthouses. I love how they are all unique and come in different shapes and sizes. They look so picturesque next to the water. Presqu’ile is such a lovely park with a variety of activities and attractions. There are a variety of trails, most of which are relatively flat. I appreciated the boardwalks, largely because the ground was still wet as it was still early in the spring when we visited.

  8. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    What a versatile park! It has so much to offer, including a lighthouse. How wonderful! I’m so looking forward to some extended exploration when go home for summer holidays in BC (if they haven’t built a moat around it by then!).

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This park used to be a hidden little gem along the shore of Lake Ontario. For years it was often overlooked and we’d have no problem booking a campsite at the last minute during the summer. Those days are long gone this year as apparently everyone is into camping. Hopefully this hot mess of a pandemic is more under control in the summer and you’re able to travel to BC.

  9. winteroseca says:

    Glad you had a nice Easter weekend at your cabin! So glad you got another beach and also a lighthouse experience!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was nice to get a change of scenery and spend time outside, especially when we had such fabulous weather. We had a great time exploring Presqu’ile even if we did end up with a bunch of sand in our shoes afterwards!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Presqu’ile is such a lovely park with a lot of attractions and activities. I was definatley appreciative of the boardwalks given that the trails were still a bit sodden and muddy. Lighthouses are always so much fun to photograph with their various shapes and sizes and close proximity to the water. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m obsessed with lighthouses. Each one has a unique story, shape and size. And agreed, the entrance to the beach through the sand dunes is pretty incredible. It’s sometimes hard to believe that we’re still in Ontario when we visit.

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