Rondeau Provincial Park

Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: August 2021

Rondeau Provincial Park is the second oldest provincial park in Ontario. It is located on a peninsula that extends into Lake Erie and protects one of the largest and last remaining stands of old growth Carolinian forest in Ontario. The Rondeau peninsula is also an important stopover for migrating passerines and waterfowl in the spring and fall. Rondeau offers a variety of recreational activities on and near the water including fishing, canoeing, swimming, birdwatching and hiking.

Rondeau is also not your average operating provincial park. There are lots of private cottages intertwined with park land, which creates a different type of experience. Rondeau is actually one of only two Ontario provincial parks with private cottage leases on publicly owned land.

We arrived at Rondeau around 11:30a.m. We drove to the Park Store, but they were unfortunately out of park crests as well. We instead decided to try our luck on the trails. Rondeau offers a few trails that wind through the different habitats in the park, including sandy beaches, dunes, prairie, oak savannah, Carolinian forests and wetlands.

We first hiked along the Spicebush Trail (1.5km loop, rated easy). The trail winds through a southern hardwood forest of old growth tulip trees, American beech and maple trees and highlights the transition between Carolinian forest and marsh. The terrain is relatively flat and even features a few wooden boardwalks.

Afterwards we hiked along the Black Oak Trail (1.7km loop, rated easy), which winds through the forest and a narrow strip of Pine-Oak Savanna. Besides providing good shade coverage, it was a rather uneventful hike. We’re guessing that we were probably the first people of the day to hike this trail as there were lots of spider webs that we walked through. Needless to say, we’re glad it was a short trail.

We then drove to the Visitor’s Centre, which was actually open. These have usually been closed since the start of the pandemic. After browsing around inside and learning more about the natural history of the park, we hiked along the Tulip Tree Trail (1.6km, rated easy), which is located in the parking lot for the Visitor’s Centre.

The trail winds through a mature Carolinian forest and highlights a variety of the parks unique habitats including beach, dune, deciduous forests and wetlands. From the trail we could see the types of trees that are usually rare in Ontario, such as tulip trees (for which the trail is named after) and sassafras. The trail is relatively flat, marked with numbered posts and includes a few boardwalk sections.

After wrapping up our hikes, we drove to the beach. There are actually 11 beach access points that span across 11km of the sandy shore along the Lake Erie side of the Rondeau peninsula. We visited the last access point, which is the only one that allows pets.

Rondeau is located on a sandspit and its shape continues to change as sand is continuously moving along the shores around Lake Erie. Typically it is eroded and brought back onto the shore by waves, where it is then moved inland by wind.

We found a spot in the shade with a picnic table to eat a late lunch before heading out. On our way out of the park we drove down some of the streets to check out the various private cottages. In some ways these cottages take away from the wilderness experience of the park, but it sure must be nice to live in one of them.


My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

31 thoughts on “Rondeau Provincial Park

  1. kagould17 says:

    Too bad about the shortage of park crests. Can you get them on line or do you have to revisit? This looks like a great park with a good variety of shady trails and the beach. Thanks for sharing Happy Friday. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Unfortunately you can only buy them in person. One of the parks told us that Ontario Parks was considering making an online store for all their merchandise, including park crests, but that may take a couple of years. I guess this means we’ll just have to return someday. That’ll give us a good reason to hike the rest of the trails too. Thanks for reading. Enjoy your weekend. Linda

  2. Rose says:

    There are so many wonderful trails. The Park sounds and looks beautiful. I can just hear the water splashing the shore during your lunch break.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We could have easily spent the full day at Rondeau. It would have been nice to hike all the trails and go for a swim afterwards as the beach looked nice and sandy, but this just gives us a reason to return. Thankfully the park is not too far from where we live.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I usually keep a travel diary and try to jot down a few highlights whenever we go somewhere, otherwise all the parks and various trails start to blend together. Rondeau has a nice variety of trails and a big sandy beach with multiple access points so it never really felt crowded. I would come back. I’m not sure what the campgrounds are like though.

  3. Little Miss Traveller says:

    The weather looked beautiful for your short hikes and the beach also flanked by its sand dunes. What a shame that yet another Park had run out of badges. I guess there must be somewhere you can get hold of the missing ones online. Have a great weekend. Marion

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We had such fabulous weather during the long weekend. It’s funny how the weather can make such a huge difference on how the landscape appears and our moods in general. It’s not hard to spend the day outside when there are blue skies and sun. It was a bummer that the park badges were all sold out. Currently we can only purchase them in person at the park, but we’ve heard talk that they are thinking about creating an online store. Enjoy your weekend as well. Linda

  4. ourcrossings says:

    Ontario is checkered with such gorgeous and varied provincial parks, Linda. I had to use Google to see what old-growth tulip trees look like as I’ve never heard of them before. I was in awe of their sheer size and beautiful flowers. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely weekend 🙂 Aiva

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Tulip trees are quite uncommon in Ontario and are only found in the southern part of the province. It was neat to hike here and see a difference in the types of trees and terrain. Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful weekend as well. Linda

  5. Ab says:

    Looks like another beautiful park along your exploration of Lake Erie! Those white Sandy trails look so nice right above now.

    I found the part about the private cottage leases to be interesting. Was hoping you had a few photos but I can take a look online! 🙂

    We made it to Friday. Woohoo. Happy weekend!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I was surprised to see just how many private cottages there are at Rondeau. I read an article recently about how Ford is considering selling the park land to the cottage owners. While it’s great for the people that own property there, it just takes away from part of the provincial park experience and adds additional strain on an already fragile ecosystem.

      Enjoy your weekend! It always goes by way too fast.

      • Ab says:

        I agree. Ford is very shortsighted when it comes to issues like the environment and green spaces unfortunately. It would be a bad decision!

        Our little one got his first vaccine today. So it was a great day! Hope yours is going well too!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Don’t even get me started on the 413! That’s exciting that T got his first vaccine! Hopefully he didn’t have any negative side effects. We spent the weekend at Killarney. It was a bit icy, but we got a bunch of snow overnight on Friday so everything looked like a winter wonderland. The drive home last night was a bit treacherous though.

      • Ab says:

        Thanks Linda. Knock on wood, no side effects two days later. 🤞🏻Killarney sounds lovely. Was this your cabin trip? I can only imagine how lovely it looked with snow. Can’t wait for your recap post. The driving yesterday was pretty bad. Glad you got back safely!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Yup, we stayed in one of the heated cabins again, which was lovely. It’s always nice to visit during the offseason when there aren’t many people around, which provides a totally different experience. I wish we could have stayed a little bit longer though. We’ll probably try to rent the cabin again next year, hopefully in the fall when the leaves are changing colour.

  6. Bama says:

    Through your blog I learn more about the provincial parks in Ontario, and for sure they look nice! (Other Canadian blogs I follow mainly focus on BC and Alberta.) I could use those blue skies as it is currently cloudy and gloomy in Jakarta since we’re already in rainy season.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. While Ontario doesn’t have those impressive mountains as out in Alberta or British Columbia, we have no shortage of crystal clear lakes and rugged wilderness. I could use some of those blue skies as well. It’s currently winter here and usually overcast. Hope you had a nice weekend. Take care. Linda

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It seems like those warm days of summer were so long ago. It was a huge bummer that many of the parks ran out of their badges mid-way through the summer. I guess this means that we’ll just have to return someday.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny how the weather can make such a huge difference in terms of what and how much we do in a day, how the landscape looks, and our moods in general. It was neat to spend time in the Carolinian forest, which has very different terrain and trees compared to where we usually hike.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We typically don’t spend a lot of time in Southern Ontario, so it was nice to explore the parks along Lake Erie. The terrain is very flat so the hiking is relatively easy, which is perfect for the summer.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Having blue skies and sun makes such a big difference when camping or spending time outdoors! The spider webs were only really an issue because we had just reapplied bug spray and sunscreen, so the webs just stuck to our skin. But yes, I’d prefer the spider webs over the mosquitoes (and the spiders themselves).

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