Presqu’ile Provincial Park in the Spring

Length of stay1 day
Visited
May 2021

Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located along the shore of Lake Ontario in Brighton, 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 and contains one of the largest wetlands along the lake. Presqu’ile also offers a sandy beach and several trails that wind through the different habitats in the park.

Restrictions have been gradually easing in Ontario so we’ve been slowly expanding our social bubble. With nice weather on the forecast for Sunday, I decided to get together with a friend that I haven’t seen in awhile and go for a hike at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, which is an hour and a half drive outside of Toronto. We arrived at the park just before 10a.m in an effort to beat the crowds.

I visited Presqu’ile earlier in the spring back towards the beginning of April, so it was neat to see how much greener everything looked a month and half later. On our drive into the park we stopped at the first beach area to check out the lake. The sun was shining which made the water shimmer and shine. Unfortunately it was still a bit too cold for swimming.

We then drove to the nearby Marsh Trail (1.2km loop, rated easy). The last two times we visited Presqu’ile this trail was closed. Due to high water levels in the Spring of 2019, the boardwalk section of this trail was heavily damaged and was closed off. The boardwalk has since been fixed and recently reopened to the public.

The trail follows along a boardwalk through a marsh for the first 800 metres then leads through the forest that was once an old sandbar. There are two viewing towers along the way that provide sweeping views of the marsh, Presqu’ile Bay and the north shoreline of the Presqu’ile peninsula.

The trail also features 14 interpretive signs that provide more information about the marsh, how it was formed and changed over time, and the types of animals and plants that live here.

After we wrapped up our hike we drove to the trailhead of the Pioneer and Newcastle Trails. These trails form two interconnected loops for a longer hike. We first hiked the Newcastle Trail (4.3km, rated easy, signed with orange markers), which loops through the forest.

In the early 1800s some of the forest in this area was cleared for the development of a proposed town called Newcastle. The plans for the town were never finalized so early settlers built homes and farms on the peninsula, which were later abandoned. Some of the old fields were reforested with conifer plantations while in others succession is occurring.

Midway through the trail leads out to the road. We made a brief detour to walk to the Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse since it was only a few hundred metres away. This lighthouse 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.

The Newcastle Trail connects with the Pioneer Trail (3.8km, rated easy, signed with yellow markers), which we hiked along next. The trail is relatively flat and continues to weave through the forest. The trail is relatively flat and features a few boardwalks through the muddy and sensitive areas.

Afterwards we drove to the picnic area and ate our lunch on a picnic table overlooking Lake Ontario. We then continued our drive through the park. We stopped at 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.

We then hiked along the Jobes’ Woods Trail (1km, rated easy, signed with blue markers). This area was once part of a farm settled by Thomas and Ezekiel Jobes in 1835. The Jobes family cleared and farmed some of the land, but also left portions largely untouched.

The trail winds through ancient upland forests, swamp forests and old farm fields, and contains a few sections along a wooden boardwalk. The trail is well signed by blue markers and numbered posts from #1 to #8. There was an interpretive guide at the trailhead that contains more information about some of the unique features of an old growth forest.

On the drive out of the park we stopped to hike along the fifth and final trail in the park, Owen Point Trail (1.6km loop, rated easy). The trail features five lookouts overlooking the beach and are reputed to provide great views of migrating and nesting shorebirds depending on the time of year. Due to the sensitive area, there was a sign to indicate that dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and are not permitted at any of the lookouts.

And with that we had completed all the trails at Presqu’ile. It was time to return back home to Toronto.

L

74 thoughts on “Presqu’ile Provincial Park in the Spring

  1. alisendopf says:

    Another fantastic day on the trails, and a rare photo of you. For the vessels lost at the lighthouse, are the ships still submerged? Do you know if people scuba dive to the wreckage sites? Or maybe nothing is left?

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was a gorgeous day to go for a hike. I typically don’t post pictures of myself, but I wanted to show off that I was wearing my Presqu’ile sweater while in Presqu’ile Provincial Park! As you probably know, I’m a bit of an Ontario Parks fan girl!

      Apparently there is one dive operator located in Prince Edward County. I imagine the cold water has left many of the ship wrecks in this area in pretty decent condition. I’ve tried cold water diving once (in Tobermory) and that was enough for me!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • alisendopf says:

        Yes! I was admiring your sweater. I think being a local fan girl is a very good thing! How else would the rest of us learn about your amazing home?

        Yeah, I hear you about the cold water diving. I’ve done several dry suit dives off the west coast (plus several in Lake Minnewanka in Banff). It’s not ideal. I’ll take a warm water dive any day.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Haha, thanks!! I have no shortage of Ontario Parks attire to show off!

        At one point we were contemplating learning how to dry suit dive, but once you factor in the cost to rent the equipment (or buy your own), it just didn’t make sense. I’d rather spend the money to go on a trip and just dive in warmer water! I didn’t know that you could dive in Banff. That sounds pretty neat to just try it out for the experience.

        Liked by 1 person

      • alisendopf says:

        No, do not dive in Banff! 🙂 I did it out of necessity, not because it’s any good. The dam is about 70 or 80′ deep. When you factor in the elevation (5,500′ above sea level), the cold, the dry suit, the depth (narked), and the total lack of light or visibility, it is a very technical dive with zero views. We did it as part of a training program. Never again!

        However, a good place to dive is Waterton Lakes. They have a sunken paddleboat right off the shore. One day I will do that one.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Good to know that it’s a hard pass on diving in Banff. The dive site at Waterton Lakes sounds promising, especially since it’s right off the shore. Plus, it’s a good excuse to just visit Waterton Lakes in general. We were there about five years ago and I wish we could have stayed for a couple days longer.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ab says:

    I loved this update. One of the best parks amongst the many provincial parks we have! I do hope to visit this once this year while the weather is warm and water is still swimmable. That boardwalk trail and lighthouse is definitely on our list to check out this time. And very nice to see a rare photo of yourself! 😊

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Definitely. Presqu’ile is always a fan favourite, especially since it’s not too far from Toronto. Hopefully you’re able to visit this year and go for a swim. Marsh Trail is easily my favourite trail in the park. I’m so glad that the boardwalk has been fixed and that I was finally able to hike this trail. I couldn’t resist sneaking a photo of me wearing my Presqu’ile sweater in, it seemed very fitting!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ab says:

        Thank you. It’s lovely in the fall. We were there in Thanksgiving last weekend and it was lovely. But definitely was not swimming weather. 😂 Take care.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Oh yah, I remember that. You went to Ferris earlier in the day. We had beautiful weather, but agreed, it was definitely too cold for swimming at that point!! Even if you’re brave enough to go for a quick dip, the worst is getting out when the air is also cool. No thanks!

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  3. winteroseca says:

    I love how you’re catching the parks in their green season! I also love how parks install boardwalks through marshes too. It’s a wonderful way to see more while respecting nature

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s been pretty cool to hike throughout the year and see how the landscape transforms with the seasons. All the greenery makes such a huge difference in the spring. I love marshy areas and it’s always a real highlight to hike along a boardwalk that winds through the wetlands. Luckily it was a windy day and the bugs weren’t bothering us. Agreed, it’s a great way to see more of an area that would otherwise have been unaccessible while trying to minimize our impact on nature.

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      • winteroseca says:

        The greenery is amazing this time of year! I understand why Canadians are soaking it up because it’s a short window of opportunity before winter. Marshes are amazing! The London Wetlands Centre in England is very marshy, and that’s where I fell in love with marshes

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Totally! It seems like everyone is trying to squeeze in all of their vacation days during the summer … especially since travel is (mostly) still off the table. I don’t blame them, I’m trying to do the same, although I plan to take most of September off as I’m hoping it won’t be as crowded once the kids go back to school.

        Liked by 1 person

      • winteroseca says:

        That makes sense, especially since summer is short here compared to temperate zones. I’m getting out a lot too and seeing parks these days

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        That’s awesome. It seems like you’re making great progress with your Calgary Parks Challenge. It’s always great to have a goal to work towards and something to look forward to and plan for during the week. Plus it’s a great way to see more of the nature within the city.

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  4. carol hopkins says:

    So beautiful! If memory serves you posted about this park last spring. At least I remember the pics of a boardwalk through muddy fields. Ontario is so huge with so many parks to enjoy. Our premier has raised the prices of provincial parks here, which makes me sad. Because hubby uses a walker we wouldn’t be able to do much but the parks that are easily accessible will now cost more to use. Ugh!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’ve been to Presqu’ile a few times over the year and yes, we visited earlier in the spring when the trails were still a bit sodden and muddy. It was neat to return later in the season to see how the landscape completely transformed with all the greenery. It’s incredible how Ontario has so many provincial parks. Our parks have been extremely busy since the start of the pandemic, so it goes to show just how important these places are, not just for nature, but for us humans too. That’s terrible that your premier has raised the prices to visit the parks. Our premier has done the opposite and made it cheaper (even free during certain days of the week).

      Liked by 1 person

      • carol hopkins says:

        Yes, parks are much needed especially with so many people living with all the restrictions of the pandemic, which thankfully are easing now. (Though those variants make me worry they may have to be re-enforced if we get hit with a third wave. Here’s hoping we don’t!)

        It makes sense to reduce the rates charged to visit provincial park – but our premier does not have an abundance of that.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        The rise in variants is a bit worrisome. Fingers crossed we don’t have to deal with another wave and round of additional public health measures. I don’t think people are going to have the patience for it. I heard that Alberta did the same and raised the price of park fees as well. It’s really such a shame as these green spaces should be for all to enjoy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • carol hopkins says:

        Yeah they did and so far have added five million bucks to government coffers. Because, you know, supporting the oil and gas industry is where monies have to be spent, at least according to the UCP – sickening.

        Liked by 1 person

      • carol hopkins says:

        It is. The UCP seem to throw money at rich corporations and rob hard working people like nurses claiming the government coffers are not full enough to support them, now they are going after hospital support staff demanding a 4% pay cut….I cannot wait foe the next election. I hope Albertans wizen up and toss this gov to the curb…..sorry for ranting.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Rant away, you’re preaching to the choir. That’s disgusting about how the government is going after hospital support staff, especially given everything that happened during the pandemic. It’s insulting.

        Liked by 1 person

      • carol hopkins says:

        It is insulting and worst of all they starting on it just as the pandemic was taking hold. I hope Albertans remember that this government cares little for the people of this province.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for commenting. This is such a beautiful park with its sandy beaches and abundance of hiking trails through the different habitats in the area. There’s no shortage of things to see and do.

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  5. wetanddustyroads says:

    I love a good boardwalk hike … and you had plenty of that! And how nice to have those interpretive guides along the trails – it’s great to receive information on an area that you’re about to discover on foot.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Boardwalks are such a great way to explore an area that would otherwise would have been unaccessible by foot. I’ve come to enjoy trails with story boards or interpretative signs that provide more information about the history and geology of the park, or even the simple things like the types of animals and plants that grow in this area. It’s a great way to combine education with exercise!

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I typically don’t post pictures of myself, but I couldn’t resist since I was wearing my Presqu’ile sweater while visiting Presqu’ile, so it seemed very fitting. And yes, it was a real treat to return here later in the spring and see how the park transformed from being brown and barren to green and lush.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. kagould17 says:

    Now, I’m really sad. We wanted to hike here on our 2018 cross Canada drive, but opted to stop for lunch and see our friends in Kingston. Looks like a beautiful place to hike and it would have been nice in the fall as well. Thanks for taking us there. Have a great week. Allan

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      That’s too bad that you missed this park on your cross-Canada road trip, especially since it’s not that far of a detour from the highway. But I’m sure it was nice to visit your friends in Kingston as I imagine you haven’t seen them in awhile. I’ve only ever visited Presqu’ile in the spring and summer, but agreed, it would probably be very scenic in the fall when the leaves are changing colour. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your week as well. Take care.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I know I say this about a lot of Ontario’s parks, but Presqu’ile is one of my favourites. It’s always great to visit a park that has a variety of activities and attractions. Plus having a nice sandy beach for swimming doesn’t hurt either. It seemed fitting to take a selfie of myself wearing my Presqu’ile sweater while visiting Presqu’ile.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Planet Paul says:

    That’s the great thing about hiking and the countryside or nature reserves etc. You can walk in the same place at different times of year and it’ll provide variety and new interest.

    Lighthouse looks great and a thoroughly detailed write-up!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Definitely! It’s always neat to see how an area changes with the different seasons. I love taking pictures of lighthouses, so it was a real treat that there was one located in this provincial park. There is a Lighthouse Centre located nearby that provides more information about the lighthouse and the sinking of one of the notable shipwrecks offshore of Presqu’ile, but it was unfortunately still closed when we visited.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      All the trails in this park are relatively flat and well-marked. I like that they all feature something unique and wind through the various habitats in the mark, including marsh, forest, and sand dunes. It is definitely a great place to explore!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There’s a bit of something here for everyone at this park. There’s a nice picnic area overlooking the lake, a beautiful sandy beach, a variety of hiking trails, campgrounds, and even a lighthouse. It was definitely a fun day-trip. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Justin Fague says:

    This seems like fun! I just got back from a trip from Boston and saw some lighthouses in Main. I forgot how cool they are, and this one is unlike any I’ve seen in New England!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This is such a great park with so much to see and do. I think it’s one of the only (or few) provincial parks in Ontario that feature a lighthouse.

      My husband used to live in Boston for a few years for work and I have such fond memories of the New England area. We used to go to Maine every spring to visit Acadia National Park. It was always so much fun to make a few detours to check out some of the various lighthouses along the drive. I love how they are all so unique and usually have an interesting history.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Justin Fague says:

        Yessss!! Maine is so great!! We used to take trips up to Acadia all the time, and always stop for salt water taffy on the way up or down from the park. There’ so much to see there, and it’s such a different landscape than the seashores of Maine and New England.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Acadia is such a beautiful park with no shortage of great views of the coastline and interesting hikes (especially the ones with the iron rungs). We’re hoping to return next spring (assuming there’s no fourth or fifth waves)!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Justin Fague says:

        THAT’S A HIKE!! I remember visiting that when I was around 8 perhaps, and I will always remember how windy it was when I climbed up those with my family! That’s so funny!

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        The iron rung routes add an extra layer of adventure to a hike. I have a fear of heights, so it was a bit nerve-wracking, but it was also a lot of fun. And yes, it can be pretty windy as you don’t get much protection from the wind when climbing along the exposed rocks or when you reach the summit. I can almost taste the salt from the wind when thinking about it. Ah, the memories.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Justin Fague says:

        Oh my gosh, the salty air, you’re right! That was a cool sensation. There’s not many National Parks located so close to the ocean like that, save for the ones that are literally on an ocean! Maine is unique though – a salty taste and fishy smell. I love it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Same. And agreed, there’s not too many national parks located so close to the ocean, especially out east. Acadia, and really the New England area in general, is such a magical place. I’m looking forward to returning. Hopefully next year.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Marsh Trail is easily my favourite trail in Presqu’ile. I’m always such a fan of a boardwalk that winds through the wetlands. It’s a great way to explore more of an area that would otherwise have been inaccessible to us humans.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was such a beautiful day to spend outdoors. I was so happy that the Marsh Trail had finally reopened as I’ve been waiting a couple of years to hike along it. It did not disappoint. The lighthouse certainly looks scenic with such blue skies and along the shore of Lake Ontario. There is a Lighthouse Centre nearby that provides more information about the history of the lighthouse and the family that looked after it. Unfortunately it was still closed when we visited.

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  9. meiphotoimages says:

    Beautiful images of the boardwalk with trees and reeds. The great outdoors always feels so different depending on the seasons. Impossible to not be inspired whatever the time of year. Lovely walk!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m such a fan of trails that wind along the boardwalk through a marsh. There’s so many interesting plants and it’s nice to see them up-close. Agreed, it’s amazing how the landscape can change so dramatically depending on the season. There’s something unique to see outdoors all year-round.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. ourcrossings says:

    Wow, such wonderful photos! The boardwalk waving through the protected marshes looks fantastic and so does the white, slender lighthouse. And what a lovely surprise to see you in one of the photos, now I can put a name to a face, although I still don’t know your name because, apart from your initials, I couldn’t find them on your webpage. Do you keep your identity hidden for a reason? Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva xxx

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Why thank you. The Marsh Trail along the boardwalk was easily one of the highlights of the park. It’s been closed for the past two years for repairs, so I’m glad it was open when I visited. And yes, I typically don’t post many pictures of myself. This is mostly because I don’t usually take pictures of myself! When I started this blog a few years ago I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t really know what I wanted out of this. But now that it’s become part of my daily routine, I might as well embrace it. I was actually contemplating about finally adding my name to my site, so I’m taking this as a sign that I should. Thanks for reading. Linda.

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  11. Lookoom says:

    Another beautifully written provincial park review. As the seasons change, so do the points of interest. The beautiful fresh nature is particularly pleasing to the eye. I also note the greater personal involvement, good job Linda!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Agreed, there’s always something to see regardless of the time of year. It’s been neat hiking through the different seasons and watching the landscape transform. And yes, blogging has become a part of my daily routine, so I figure I should open up a little more!

      Liked by 1 person

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