With its flat terrain, Presqu’ile is well suited to cycling. There is a dedicated walking/bike lane beside the paved 8 km road loop that provides access to picnic grounds, the visitor centres and trails. An unpaved bicycle path connects the campgrounds with the paved loop, beach and Park Store.
As a major stopover for migrating birds and monarchs, Presqu’ile is renowned among birdwatchers as one of the premier birding locations in the province. At least 338 species of birds have been spotted within in the park and 130 species are known to nest here. March for waterfowl, May for songbirds and shorebirds and September for shorebirds are highlight months.
Both Presqu’ile Bay and Lake Ontario are accessible to boats. Please note that during waterbird nesting season you must remain a minimum of 200 m away from the two offshore islands (High Bluff and Gull). Nesting season occurs from March 10 to September 10 inclusive.
There is a municipally run boat launch 1 km east of the park entrance.
Presqu’ile Bay and marsh are sheltered enough to allow canoe exploration. Canoes can be put in at the Camp Office viewing platform or at Calf Pasture picnic area. Canoeing in Lake Ontario is recommended only on the calmest days. Please note that during waterbird nesting season you must remain a minimum of 200 m away from the two offshore islands (High Bluff and Gull). Nesting season occurs from March 10 to September 10 inclusive.
The waters of both Presqu’ile Bay and Lake Ontario are accessible by boat for fishing in season. Land-based fishing can be enjoyed at the Calf Pasture Picnic Ground or just outside the park from the Municipality of Brighton’s “Government Dock”.
Presqu’ile was made for walking; its flat terrain and views of Lake Ontario attract walkers all year. A favourite route for many is the paved one-way driving loop (Lighthouse Lane and Paxton Drive) around the peninsula. This road has a designated walking/bike lane and is plowed in the winter. This is still a road however and walkers are urged to be cautious, particularly in the busy summer months. For those wanting a more natural experience Presqu’ile has 12 km of traditional “off-road” trails. All trails are clearly marked with coloured plastic blazes and are cleared of deadfall on a regular basis.
Jobes’ Woods Trail – 1.0 km, 30 minutes, loop, easy
This trail winds through an area that was once part of a farm settled by Thomas and Ezekial Jobes in 1835. This part of their farm remained relatively undisturbed by settlement activity and today contains one of the oldest deciduous woodlots at Presqu’ile.
The trail passes by towering old maples, vernal pools crossed by boardwalks, conifer plantations, and an old field which is filling in with ash trees after a century of use by the Jobes family. An interpretive guide introducing visitors to the ecology of the Jobes’ forest is available at the trailhead or can be downloaded in the maps tab.
Owen Point Trail – 1.6 km, 45 minutes, loop, easy
This trail offers excellent opportunities to see migrating shorebirds along the natural beach and distant views of the waterbird colonies on their island nesting grounds. The trail can be accessed from the south end of the beach or from the west end of High Bluff Campground.
To avoid disturbing migrating birds, the natural beach is closed to foot traffic between ice-out and ice-in, but the trail provides a number of lookouts allowing views of the entire shore. In addition, pets are not allowed into any of the lookouts on this trail at any time, but can be taken on the loop. To protect the nesting waterbirds, access to Gull and High Bluff Islands is closed from March 10 to September 10 inclusive. Gull Island can usually be accessed by foot after September 10 from Lookout #5 of the Owen Point Trail.
An interpretive guide to the ecology of the point and the islands is available at the trailhead or can be downloaded in the maps tab.
Marsh Trail – 1.2 km, 30 minutes, loop, easy
This trail includes 800 m of boardwalk complete with two viewing towers and a teaching platform (great for picnics too!) that takes visitors into the marsh. Sixteen interpretive panels along the trail illustrate the story of the marsh and its inhabitants. The boardwalk portion of the trail is barrier-free.
Pioneer and Newcastle Trails – 8.1 km, 3 hours, two interconnected loops, easy
These trails lead you through the forests, plantations and old fields found in the heart of the Presqu’ile peninsula. Along these trails you will encounter a diversity of plants and wildlife in the mature beech-maple forest, old fields and early succession forest which dominate this area of the park.
The Pioneer Trail is 3.8 km and marked by yellow plastic blazes. The Newcastle Trail is 4.3 km and is marked by orange plastic blazes. The trailhead for both trails is halfway along Lighthouse Lane, though there are a number of other access points along both trails. Both trails use park roadways for part of their length so be cautious of vehicles and monitor children running ahead on the trail.
Lighthouse Foot Path – 300 m, 20 minutes, loop, easy
This loop connects the Lighthouse Interpretive Centre with the lighthouse itself. There are great views of Lake Ontario and Presqu’ile Bay, with waterfowl in winter and spring, and a cool breeze in summer. Interpretive panels illustrate the history of the area.
Cemetery Trail – 300 m, 15 minutes, linear, easy
This path connects the cemetery interpretive panel at the Camp Office parking lot with the site of an abandoned pioneer cemetery. The site itself is marked with a commemorative granite boulder, though no other evidence remains.
A regulated waterfowl hunt takes place Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in the marsh and offshore islands from the fourth Friday in September to the third Saturday in December. Hunting in this park is subject to the Ontario Hunting Regulations. Certain restrictions apply. For more information, contact the park or a Ministry of Natural Resources office.
Daily slide talks, guided walks, campfire programs, and children’s programs are held in the summer. Guided walks, conducted bird walks and other nature activities are offered on weekends in the spring and fall.
Waterfowl Viewing Weekend in mid-March draws thousands of visitors to see thousands of ducks. Volunteer naturalists are on hand each day to operate telescopes, identify the different types of ducks and point out distinguishing field marks.
Warblers and Whimbrels Weekend occurs on the Victoria Day weekend, the traditional peak of spring bird migration. Bird walks, bird banding and evening programs introduce the elusive Whimbrel and the colourful warblers that pass through the park.
History Weekend, held on the Civic holiday weekend, is an opportunity to relive Presqu’ile’s storied past. Special events, such as old fashioned games, a musical social evening, a boat-building bee and regatta, a BBQ lunch social, history play and historical recreations occur throughout the weekend.
Monarchs and Migrants Weekend, held on Labour Day weekend, offers a chance to see and learn more about migrating Monarch Butterflies, songbirds and shore birds. Park naturalists and guest speakers offer slide talks, shorebird viewing, butterfly tagging demonstrations and special hikes.
Curriculum-based children’s educational programming is offered by Park Naturalists in the spring and fall for schools and other groups courtesy of the Friends of Presqu’ile. Go to the Friends website for more information and a registration form.
A long, safe, sandy beach is ideal for family swimming. Please remember that there are no lifeguards on duty at the beach so children must be supervised.
Walking is popular all year at Presqu’ile on the paved road loop with a dedicated walking lane. Self-grooming skiing is available on the 12 km of trails in the park. From the group camping parking lot, two loops head east and west.