Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: April 2021
Mara Provincial Park is located along the shore of Lake Simcoe and boasts of having one of the best sandy beaches in the area. It’s a relatively small park and is quite popular in the summer as its main draw is its beach and other activities that involve the water, such as fishing and boating.
We spent the morning hiking in the nearby Springwater Provincial Park in Barrie and decided to make a detour at Mara on the way back to Toronto. The park is not yet open for the season and the main road leading into the park was still closed, so we parked just outside the main entrance and walked in.
There’s not a whole lot to do in Mara during the off-season, but it was nice to walk through the park and enjoy the pleasant weather. We first strolled through the empty campground. Mara offers just over 100 campsites. The sites seemed spacious, but they don’t offer much in terms of privacy. Granted, that could be because there were no leaves on the trees yet so it was hard to gauge how these sites would look during the summer months. Regardless, I doubt we’d ever camp here given its close proximity to Toronto.
We then walked down to the beach and picnic area.
Mara offers picnic facilities complete with a picnic shelter. There were signs reminding people of COVID-19 and to social distance. There were also a lot of picnic tables scattered around the grounds. Unfortunately much of this area was flooded when we visited. No social gatherings here.
The beach area is quite spacious and the water looked clear. It was the perfect day to visit as we had the beach mostly all to ourselves. We walked down to the water and along the shore.
Mara also has a single hiking trail, the Riverside Trail (500m), which follows the river for a short stretch before winding through the forest. The trail, including the trailhead, is not marked. We found an access point for the trail at the beach area. This time of the year, much of the ground was soggy and muddy. After a misstep from K that resulted in his shoe being completely submerged in mud, we cut this already short hike even shorter and got off when the path nears the road through the campground. From here it’s a short walk along the paved road back to the main gate.
Mara is a relatively small park that seems very family friendly. While I don’t think we’d ever camp here, it seems like a great place to visit during the summer for its beach and picnic facilities.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here