Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: July 2021
Awenda Provincial Park is located in a peninsula along the shore of Georgian Bay. It has a rich history of logging dating back to the 1880s. The park contains six campgrounds with about 330 sites, features four sandy beaches for swimming and has over 30 kilometres of hiking trails.
The game plan was to drive up to Awenda after dinner on Thursday, but we were a bit hesitant because of the weather. A tornado had touched down in Barrie earlier in the afternoon (and Awenda is located just under an hour northeast of Barrie) and it was currently pouring rain outside. The entire Greater Toronto Area was under a severe thunderstorm warning. But we figured we might as well otherwise Friday would be an extra long day and we’d have to cut some of our planned activities. Besides, the storm was expected to end well before the time we planned to arrive at Awenda.
We packed up the car in the rain. After being out on the road for 15 minutes, I realized that we had forgotten our bathing suits and towels at home. So we headed back to grab our swimwear and hit the road again for real this time. By the time we arrived at Awenda it was around 10:30p.m. Luckily the rain had subsided and it didn’t look like this area had sustained much damage from the storm. We checked in at the Park Office and drove to our site in the Bear Campground, which is located in the radio-free zone. After setting up our tent we went to bed.
We woke up bright and early and made a cup of coffee (for K) and tea (for me). We then went to hike along the Wendat Trail (4.5km). Wendat means “island dwellers” after the Iroquoian speaking people who lived and farmed here between 1200 and 1650. The trailhead is located at Brabant Point, which was named after the Brabant family who were one of the first early settlers who lived in this area.
The area around Awenda was once used for logging, which gave way to settlement. The major lumber companies eventually phased out their operations making room for a handful of French Canadian settlers. These settlers bought land in and around the park for farming, but they weren’t very successful due to the poor conditions of the sandy soil.
The trail is relatively flat, loops around Kettle Lake and is marked with a series of 12 numbered posts. The trail contains two wooden viewing platforms that provide lovely views of the lake.
After we wrapped up our hike, we drove back to our campsite to make breakfast. Except we forgot to bring a spatula or flipper so that meant scrambled eggs weren’t an option. Instead we made hard boiled eggs. Once we finished eating we packed up our tent.
We then went to hike along the Robitaille Homestead Trail (3km, rated moderate) which is an out and back trail and is signed with 10 numbered posts. The trail begins with a steep climb up a ridge, passes by the foundations of the Robitaille family house and farm and ends at an ancient sand dune.
Afterwards we drove to the beach area to check out the viewing platform overlooking Georgian Bay.
From here we walked to the trailhead for the Beaver Pond Trail (1km loop, rated easy). The trail mostly follows along a boardwalk through a nature reserve zone. Along the way there are a few interpretive panels that provides more history of how this area was used for logging and how it’s been shaped by glaciers and the beavers.
We finished our hike around noon and headed off to go eat lunch at the nearby Six Mile Lake Provincial Park.
While it would have been nice to go for a swim, we weren’t quite finished hiking yet for the day.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here