Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: July 2021
Bonnechere Provincial Park is located on Round Lake just south of Algonquin and is reputed to have one of the best sandy beaches in Eastern Ontario. In the early 1800s, the area around Bonnechere was once used for logging and in the spring, the Little Bonnechere River was often jammed with red and white pine logs. Today it offers 128 campsites and 4 rustic cabins and provides a variety of recreational activities including biking, birding, boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking and swimming.
We arrived at Bonnechere just before 11a.m. After checking out the Park Store, we set off to hike along the McNaughton Trail (2km, rated easy), which is the only trail in the park.
There are a few access points to the trail. We parked by the mini comfort station and found the trail easy enough as it is well-signed with blue markers. Along the way there are fun facts, or Footprints in Time, that provide more information about the flora and fauna and history of the area. There are 13 of these Footprints in Time and they are marked by posts with interpretive and educational text that are based on the traditional local First Nations way of teaching and explaining Ontario’s history.
The trail follows the Bonnechere River as it meanders through the forest around several tiny oxbow lakes. Shortly after starting, we passed by two log buildings near the depot, which were once used by rangers.
In the mid 1800s, the Bonnechere River Valley produced 15% of Ottawa Valley’s white pine square timber. European settlers were drawn to this area to help harvest the giant white pine. By the early 1900s, the Bonnechere banks had been extensively logged and in the decades that followed, the original pine stands were replaced with mixed forest.
Despite the fact that the trail follows along the Bonnechere River, we couldn’t actually get a clear glimpse of it through all the greenery. The best views of the river are reputed to be along the boardwalk, which was closed when we visited. However, the trail also passes by four rustic cabins which were currently closed when we visited. The rustic cabins are located along the waterfront and ended up providing the best views of the river.
From the rustic cabins, the trail loops around to the road, which you can follow along for a few hundred metres to get back to the entrance of the trailhead. We decided to just hike along a portion of the trail that we already covered, which was slightly longer but much more scenic.
Afterwards we drove to the main beach area to have some lunch. We then changed into our swimsuits to go for a swim. Bonnechere features a nice sandy beach on Round Lake and offers a large swimming area that’s marked with buoys. It’s nice and shallow and has a gradual drop-off. The lake was nice and warm and we were reluctant to get out. But alas, we had other parks to visit.
We changed back into our regular clothes and hit the road again.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here