Looking for a new park to explore with your family? How about a park that offers great swimming, paddling, and hiking and will have your kids picking books from a tree?
Bonnechere Provincial Park — located in Killaloe, ON (just 2 hours from Ottawa) — is one of the Ottawa Valley’s hidden gems.
Here are some of the reasons your family will love this park:
1. Swimming on the sandy shores of Round Lake
What better way to spend a summer’s day than relaxing on the beach and cooling down in the lake? Bonnechere is located on the shores of Round Lake and the park features a sandy beach with shallow entry which is great for the kids. The Park Store is located just off of the beach meaning you are only steps away from a tasty ice cream treat!
2. Paddling the meandering Bonnechere River
Park visitors can explore the Bonnechere River with a paddle up to Jack’s Chute. This quiet river is great for introducing little ones to paddling and is an incredibly scenic route.
Park visitors love spotting wildlife along the way like northern map turtles sunning themselves on logs.
The park rents kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards (which can be picked up right at the boat launch) at the Park Store.
3. Discovering a new read from the Bonnechere Book Tree
The park is home to the Bonnechere Book Tree, an outdoor library where park visitors can borrow a book or leave one for other park visitors. The Book Tree is made from the trunk of a massive White Pine and an overturned Pointer Boat.
Let your kids choose a book to take back to your campsite and “leaf” through the pages for a little quiet time.
4. Enjoying concerts, art and cultural history
Throughout the summer, the parks Natural Heritage Education (NHE) staff offer a variety of educational programming, including children’s programs, evening campfires, guided hikes and more.
In addition to regular scheduled NHE programs, there are also lots of special events including concerts and art in the park.
You can check out the schedule of NHE programming on the park bulletin board and check out the calendar of special events here.
5. Camping on private sites in quiet campgrounds
One of the things that keeps campers coming back here year after year are the beautiful private campsites in the park’s quiet campgrounds. Bonnechere features three campgrounds, each with a different feel.
The River Loop Campground features many scenic sites along the river which are non-electrical. Those bringing their own canoes or kayaks will love being able to launch right from their campsite. The Tall Pines Campground features electrical and non-electrical sites amongst huge White Pines. River Loop and Tall Pines are both located within a few minute walk to the beach, store and Visitor Centre. Sandy Flats Campground is a radio-free area offering non-electrical sites in a slightly more secluded area of the park for those seeking solitude.
6. Making tracks on the Footprints in Time (FIT) Trail
This innovative trail design features unique sign posts (a.k.a., “museums-on-a-stick”) along the way for a self-guided experience. Along the way, you will travel from 10,000 BC to present day using the sign posts as your guide.
This trail is great for kids as along the way signposts feature instructions for role-playing and sensory games like measuring your pace like a land surveyor and learning to listen like a deer. Park visitors should start at The Depot and begin by navigating the Turtle Island Time Machine.
7. Roofing it instead of roughing it
If you’d rather leave your tent at home and enjoy the park with a roof over your head, the park has you covered:
Pine Shores Cottage is a stunning lakeside retreat along the shores of Round Lake.
The cottage, which sleeps six, is built and trimmed in pine, and offers many comforts for a relaxing getaway including propane fireplace, leather couch and chairs, flat-screen tv with dvd player, full-size fridge with freezer, stove, microwave, dishwasher, coffee maker, kettle, toaster, and three-piece bathroom with a luxurious whirlpool tub and shower with multiple jets. Firewood, bbq, canoe and paddling equipment are all provided.
The park’s four rustic cabins are located along the Bonnechere River in the park, and feature two bedrooms and a small living area with chesterfield and propane fireplace. The kitchen has an electric bar fridge and microwave, a custom pine dining table and an outdoor BBQ for cooking. Firewood, a canoe and paddling equipment are all provided.