Length of stay: 3 days
Visited: March 2023
MacGregor Point Provincial Park is located along the sandy shores of Lake Huron. It is open year-round and offers a variety of activities depending on the season. MacGregor Point also offers roofed accommodations such as yurts and rustic cabins, to keep you warm and cozy during the off-season.
Day 1: Wetlands
Reserving a campsite in southern Ontario has become super competitive in the summer. We’re also not a fan of the crowds or the noise that the warmer weather brings. So we’ve been making the most of the off-season and checking out some of the roofed accommodations offered at some of our favourite parks.
We booked a rustic cabin at MacGregor Point at the end of March and planned to spend the weekend there with my mom and uncle. Check-in time starts at 4p.m, so that’s when we aimed to arrive at the park. The weather can be hit or miss this time of the year. While there was still some snow on the ground, the sun was shining and it felt like spring had finally arrived.
We checked in at the park office and picked up the permit for our campsite. We then headed to our rustic cabin to make ourselves at home for the weekend. The cabin consists of a single room with an enclosed front porch that was also heated. It can sleep up to five people and came fully furnished with a queen bed, a double/single bunk bed and a table with five chairs and two benches. The cabin also has lighting, a propane fireplace and a small kitchenette with a mini fridge and microwave. There is also a BBQ outside for us to use.
After unpacking the car, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and go for a hike along the Tower Trail (3.5km loop, rated easy). The trail loops through the forest and passes a few wetlands. Along the way there’s a series of storyboards that provide more information about the geology of the area and importance of wetlands.
For the most part the trail was in pretty good condition with a few icy and wet patches. It was even starting to feel like spring. One of the highlights of the trail is an observation tower that provides a panoramic view of the wetlands.
After following the shore of the wetland, there’s a short detour to a bird blind. This shelter contains a few windows to better observe the wildlife and admire the views.
Once we looped back to the trailhead, we headed back to our cabin to settle in for the evening. As we were cleaning up from dinner, we noticed that the sun was starting to set. We headed to the beach to get a better look.
We then retreated back to our cabin to play boardgames for the rest of the evening.
Day 2: Rain
The forecast was calling for a lot of rain throughout the day. When we got up in the morning we went for a walk through the campground since it was still dry. But after 30 minutes or so, the rain had begun so we headed back indoors to make breakfast.
Since we didn’t have any interest in hiking in the rain, we headed to Owen Sound to check out the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, which showcases a small collection of Canadian artwork, including pieces from Tom Thomson. The famous Canadian artist drew much inspiration from nature and the Ontario landscape. He unfortunately died at the young age of 39 from drowning in Canoe Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park. Even though he died before the official formation of the Group of Seven, a famous group of Canadian landscape painters, Thomson is considered an unofficial member.
We returned to MacGregor Point to eat a late lunch. There was a break in the rain later in the afternoon, so we headed to Southampton to check out a couple of lighthouses. First up was the Southampton Front Range Light, which is located near the mouth of the Saugeen River. From the parking lot, we headed down to the water and walked along the short pier to get a better look. The water was calm. There were a few icy patches along the edge, including an impressive display of icicles.
The Saugeen River Light is located nearby on the north side of the Saugeen River and acts as a back range light. It is nearly identical to the Southampton Front Range Light.
We went for another walk through the campground before it started to rain again. So we headed back indoors to play more board games. It continued to rain throughout the evening.
Day 3: Fun in the Sun
We woke up to a beautiful day of blue skies and sun, which was a real treat after dealing with the miserable weather from yesterday. Check out time for our cabin was at 10am, so after eating breakfast, we packed up. We could still enjoy the park for the day though.
We headed to the visitor centre, which was still closed for the season, to hike the Huron Fringe Trail (1.2km loop, rated easy). The trail features a series of storyboards that provide more information about the landscape and the different habitats found in the area. The path follows along a boardwalk through the forest, which is part of an old sand beach, and wetlands. It passes a couple of ponds and leads to the Lake Huron shoreline.
From here the path connects with the Old Shore Road Trail which follows the Lake Huron shoreline. Back in the day, this trail was part of a larger route that connected the towns of Goderich and Southampton. We hiked to Sunset Point, a narrow peninsula.
The wind forced us to retreat back the way we came to the Huron Fringe Trail to complete the rest of the loop.
The trail passes another wetland before heading back into the forest towards the visitor centre. We’ve recently started to bring bird seed with us while hiking and were soon rewarded with some friends.
Afterwards we headed back to the Algonquin Campground to hit up a viewing platform of the Pitcher Plant Marl. This marl wetland is a fragile habitat in MacGregor Point due to its mucky soil with low levels of essential nutrients. There are some plants that have adapted to these harsh conditions though, including pitcher plants.
Given that the ground was still pretty wet from yesterday’s heavy rainfall, we figured it was best to end on a high note and head home.