Aaron Provincial Park

Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: September 2021

Aaron Provincial Park is located near Dryden in northwestern Ontario. It is situated on the shore of Thunder Lake, which was once a traditional hunting ground for Indigenous people and provided access to canoe routes that link with many surrounding lakes and rivers. Thunder Lake is also a remnant of the glaciers that shifted and melted to become a huge lake called Agassiz. After the water levels fell, hundreds of smaller lakes were left, including Thunder Lake. Today Aaron offers just under 100 campsites and has a range of water based activities, including swimming, fishing, canoeing and boating.

We arrived at Aaron in the late afternoon. After checking in at the Park Office, we drove to our campsite and set up our tents. Our site was located on a peninsula near the boat launch and provided nice views of the lake on either side.

After eating dinner, we walked down to the boat launch to watch the sun set.

Since it was a bit breezy and quite humid outside, we didn’t bother having a campfire. Once it got darker, we walked back to the boat launch to look up at the stars. Instead we saw intense lightning in the clouds and it looked like a big storm was coming in off the lake.

We booked it back to our campsite and decided to set up a tarp over all the tents. Just in case. Mid-way through it started to lightly rain. It took well over an hour to set up all the tarps, largely because we ran out of rope and had to get creative and reposition one of the tents. Plus it was dark. But the timing worked out well as less than 5 minutes of getting into our tent and snuggling into our sleeping bags for the night, the storm had officially arrived. There was lots of lightning and thunder and the wind picked up. It turns out that there were a few different storm systems that passed through overnight. I surprisingly slept through most of it. We don’t usually tarp our tent, but it provided some peace of mind that we would stay dry.

It was a little chilly the next morning, but the sun was shining. To warm-up, we hiked along the Eastern White Cedar Trail (1.2km loop, rated easy). The trailhead is located by site #34, which isn’t too far from our campsite, so we just walked there. The trail meanders through a dense forest of cedar and black spruce and follows along the shore of Thunder Lake.

The path was a bit dodgy in places and not well marked. There were also lots of small foot paths and places where the main trail branches off in different directions. So it turned into a bit of a choose your own adventure type of trail. Somehow we took a wrong turn and ended up in an open field, which looked like a dumping ground of old bins and fallen over trees. As we were walking out, we came across a sign that said that this was an open pit and to keep out. Maybe that sign should have also been placed along the trail as well to avoid confusion. The open pit led to the main road, which we followed back to our site.

After eating breakfast at the covered picnic area, we returned to our campsite to pack up. While there’s another trail in the park, we decided to skip it based on what the conditions were like on the first trail. We then hit the road again and continued driving east back towards Thunder Bay.


My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

64 thoughts on “Aaron Provincial Park

  1. Rose says:

    Another gorgeous park post! I was wondering – does the Ontario Park System know about your blog? I think this would be a great adventure to add to their social media sites. Nearly every time I read one of your posts – I look up the Park information, I go to their website, I look at their map, I look for other reviews… Exploring Canada has been on our list and your blog makes me want to visit even more!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. You are too kind. I’m glad our adventures have provided some inspiration and makes you want to venture up north to our side of the border. I am terrible with social media and promoting my blog. I haven’t reached out to Ontario Parks about our challenge, but maybe I should. I’m all for nature conservation and spending time in the great outdoors.

  2. Ab says:

    Looks like another gorgeous park visit, Linda and K! 😊 I’ve never even heard of Aaron before. It’s wonderful how I’m discovering all about the Ontario Parks through your journey.

    We always tarp our tent when we camp too. Never want to chance it with a wet soggy clean up. Your timing worked perfectly too!

    That open pit sounded a bit creepy but I guess looking at your picture, it wasn’t as scary as I had imagined it in my head. 🙂

    Happy Sunday!!!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      A year ago I had no idea that this park, or many of the other parks in Northern Ontario even existed. It’s been a lot of fun exploring this area of the province and seeing how different the landscape looks.

      We never used to tarp our tent, but we’ve started to when the forecast calls for a lot of rain or if we plan to stay for a few nights. It’s a lot of work to set up, but it’s nice to have that peace of mind and makes packing up our tent so much easier.

      The open pit looked super sketchy. The picture I took really didn’t do it justice. I was glad it lead back to the road so we could at least find our way back to our campsite more easily.

      • Ab says:

        The tarping is worth the pain for sure and on the flip side, it takes far less time to take down. 😊 We also lay down a tarp on the ground to put the tent on top of for similar reasons. It’s been a great hack for those awful rainy days.

        After today, it’ll be 4 months (kinda) till the month of summer!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure. It’s always easier to take the tarp down than to set it up! We have a footprint (which is essentially a tarp) that’s specifically designed for our tent to go underneath it. That has been a total game changer and helps keep the bottom of our tent dry and clean.

        I’m looking forward to the summer too. I’ve noticed that the days are starting to get just a little bit longer now.

      • Ab says:

        I do pickup from daycare so I definitely notice it getting a bit longer each day. I love it! Spring is less than 7 weeks away! 🙏

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I still can’t believe that it’s already February. Where does the time go?! Spring will be here before we know it. But for now we’ll have to deal with this miserable weather. Rain and snow later today. But hey, at least we’re almost halfway through the work week!

  3. kagould17 says:

    Such a beautiful spot. Love the kingfisher mascot. Yeah, tents and heavy rain are never a good mix. Glad you got the tarps up in time. Muddy paths would have deterred me too. Thanks for sharing. Happy Sunday. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We don’t usually throw a tarp over our tent, but our site was a bit exposed since we were on a peninsula. It actually made taking our tents down much easier the next morning as it was just the tarp that was wet. As you can tell, I’m not a fan of muddy trails. There were no complaints to skip the other trail and move onto the next park. Thanks for reading. Linda

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Watching the sunset was the perfect way to end the day. It was a bit misleading though as we were surprised to see a storm coming in off the lake when we returned to the dock to look up at the stars a couple hours later. Thankfully we managed to tarp all our tents in time and didn’t have any issues with the wind or rain.

  4. Dee Min says:

    Rose’s suggestion is a great one. Linda, you’re doing such an amazing job of promoting the Ontario park system, they should know about it!!!!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You are too kind. I feel like I’m an unofficial Ontario Parks ambassador. It’s been so much fun exploring more of Ontario and learning about each park that we visited. It’s also made me appreciate all the green spaces that we.

      • Dee Min says:

        That’s one of the beauties of our country—the vast green spaces. It’s wonderful that you’re taking such advantage of it.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        If it weren’t for spending time outdoors, I would probably have gone crazy during the pandemic, especially when we were in lockdown. I’m glad we’ve had the opportunity to explore more of what’s in our own backyard.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always nice to camp by the water. Even though it stormed through the night, I’m glad we woke up to blue skies and sun, which is the perfect weather for hiking. Thanks for reading. Linda

  5. John says:

    Thunder Lake lived up to it’s name, It was a great choice to tarp the tents! it’s unfortunate that the park has poor signage but that’s easy for them to repair. I really enjoy your series about these beautiful Ontario parks! ❤️🇨🇦❤️

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It sure did. I’d say Thunder Lake was appropriately named. Setting up our tarps in the dark wasn’t ideal, but I’m glad we did it as it sounded like quite the storm. It made packing up our tents the next morning much easier as well because they stayed dry. The trail we hiked on could definitely benefit from some trail markers and perhaps another warning sign about entering the open pit area. Thanks for following along on our Northern Ontario road trip. It was such a memorable experience and I can’t wait to go back.

  6. wetanddustyroads says:

    I want to agree with John – that was my first thought as well … Thunder Lake definitely lived up to its name! You know that I will always mention your sunset photo’s ☺️ … and once again, what a stunning picture!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Since we were camping on a peninsula I’m sure we got the full Thunder Lake experience during the thunderstorm! Despite the storm, I’m glad we got to enjoy a beautiful sunset and that the next day was nothing but blue skies and sun.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Even though I wear proper hiking shoes, I just hate stepping in mud and getting them dirty. That’s always the downside to hiking after a storm, is that the trails are bound to be a bit wet. Despite the storm, this was a lovely park to stay the night.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      When I’m having a hard time falling asleep I usually listen to rain sounds. No wonder I slept so well during the thunderstorm. I’m glad the clouds cleared by the morning and we had blue skies and sun. Having nice weather makes such a huge difference when hiking and camping.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It wasn’t ideal setting up our tarps in the dark, but we managed to get it done just in time. It was actually pretty neat to watch the storm come in across the lake. I find listening to the sound of the rain very soothing and slept really well that night.

  7. Lookoom says:

    It’s so far, far into the Ontario backcountry. Once upon a time, all of southern Ontario must have looked like this dense forest of cedar and black spruce, a beautiful return to the origins.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s hard to believe that southern Ontario was all forest back in the day. It was neat to take a road trip through northern Ontario where the towns are tiny and most of the region is wilderness. It sure is beautiful and makes me want to move further out in the country (or just up north). I imagine the winters are brutal and the mosquitoes are awful in the spring though.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Same, especially when the thunderstorm is at night so you can see the lightning more clearly. I’d say the timing of the storm worked out rather well and I slept like a baby. While the trail was a bit wet the next day, at least the sun was shining.

  8. leightontravels says:

    Another excellent instalment. The third shot of the lake and the autumnal leaves is a keeper. The Kingfisher is really charming and yeah, boo to muddy paths. We have plenty of that here in rural England, some of which descend into actual bogs!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Despite the storm, this was a lovely spot to camp. The nice thing about visiting Northern Ontario in September was that fall tends to come a bit earlier. We were already seeing some signs of the leaves starting to change colour. It was very beautiful. As you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of the mud. You learn real quick whether your shoes are waterproof though!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It took us awhile to set up all the tarps in the dark, but the timing worked out well. It’s good to be prepared and not have to worry about our tent getting wet overnight. I actually slept really well. I’m glad the storm cleared and we had such beautiful weather the next day. The trail was a bit rough, largely because there weren’t many trail markers, but hey, it’s all part of the adventure!

  9. ourcrossings says:

    I love your sunset photo, Linda:) as sunsets are among the most beautiful things we’re lucky to see almost every day. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny because I usually don’t pay attention to the sunset except while on vacation. It’s something I should do more often. Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your week. Linda

  10. Bama says:

    Thunder Lake and Blue Lake look so pretty. I love that photo of the soft afternoon sun over the former with those colorful foliage in the foreground. Glad you were not too affected by the rain.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We’re lucky that we have no shortage of beautiful lakes here in Ontario. I never would have guessed that a severe thunderstorm was right around the corner after such a beautiful sunset. I’m glad we stayed dried and that the sun was shining by the time we got up in the morning. Having nice weather makes such a difference when camping.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was hard to believe that a thunderstorm rolled in during the night as the lake was so calm when the sun was setting and the next morning. No complaints as I’d rather it rain while we’re sleeping than hiking.

  11. alisendopf says:

    Thanks for telling us about Lake Agassiz. I love to hear about the ancient glaciers, and the geological remnants of them. Do you know if there is a lot of clay in that area? Sediment from the ancient lake bed?

    I had to laugh at your tarp story. I feel your pain! Setting up a tarp can be the most annoying thing, but if it keeps your tent dry and you can sleep? It’s worth the stress.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s pretty amazing how the last ice age shaped much of the landscape in Ontario (and in many other places). I think there’s a mix of glacial clay, sand and gravel deposits in the area. Sandbar Lake itself is actually quite sandy.

      We don’t usually put a tarp over our tent, but it looked like such a wicked storm coming in off the lake that we didn’t want to take any chances. Plus, there isn’t always much opportunity to dry off our tent when taking a road trip. I’m glad it all worked out and we managed to set it up before the storm rolled in and that we stayed dry! It was definitely worth the effort!

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