You put your canoe or kayak into the lake. The water is smooth and reflective. The sky’s a deep, dark blue, and the clouds are brilliant white. The day is sunny, cool and crisp, and the trees that cover the hills around you…well, they’re a stunning display of red, orange, and yellow.
There’s something special about paddling in Ontario’s provincial parks in the fall, particularly secluded Restoule Provincial Park.
Less than 3 hours north of Barrie, it’s the perfect park for a weekend paddling getaway – either an easy backcountry camping trip to one of the secluded interior campsites, or day trips based out of the full-service campground.
No worries if you don’t own a boat. You can rent canoes and kayaks at the park by the day or by the week.
You won’t encounter many other canoeists or kayakers in September and October, but if you look closely, you’re bound to see some permanent residents… wildlife is all around you at Restoule!
Look up, and you might spot a rare Peregrine Falcon (they’ve been known to nest in the park), or a Bald Eagle cruising over the lake. Lake Trout, Whitefish, Walleye, pike, muskie, Large- and Small-mouth Bass, and Splake swim beneath you in the cool clean waters. Painted Turtles bask on logs on warm sunny days, while River Otters are regularly sighted playing on the Restoule River.
Day-tripping at Restoule
You can plan a simple day trip. There are several options on the park’s waterways:
- Restoule Lake – paddle from one of the campground beaches around Angels Point into the upper Restoule River, always a good spot for wildlife like Blue Herons in the reeds, or White-tailed Deer along the shore. Take the “Grawbarger Portage,” named for the farming family that settled here in 1881, to reach Stormy Lake for a longer trip
- Restoule River – paddle from the access point on Stormy Lake down to Scotts Dam for a picnic lunch next to the rapids below. The portage around the rapids is an ancient trail, traveled for millennia by the Nipissing People, who still live on the shores of Lake Nipissing
- The Bluff – a favourite route. Paddle below the 100-metre-high cliffs of “The Bluff,” part of the Ottawa-Bonnechere Rift Valley
Stormy Lake – this lake has many bays and channels to explore, including The Bluff cliff face and Restoule River; on the north shore of the lake, you can find the huge glacial boulder, known as an erratic, called “The Elephant” for obvious reasons
- Clear Lake – paddlers can reach Clear Lake from Stormy without a portage, following the channels and islands that divide the two lakes
Backcountry at Restoule
If you’re up for more of an adventure, try base-camping on one of our interior campsites for an easy backcountry paddling trip.
There are 13 backcountry campsites on Stormy Lake, Clear Lake, and a section of the scenic Restoule River. Base-camping on one of these sites puts all of the day trips mentioned earlier right at your waterfront “doorstep.”
Need a break from paddling?
One of the most popular hikes is the Fire Tower Trail, which takes you high above Stormy Lake, and the edge of its 100 m “Bluff.” At the top is the historic fire tower and a breathtaking panoramic view of the lake and the fall colours.
Bring your mountain bike or rent one at the park, and check out the Angels Point Trail. With a combination of double and single-track trails, it’s fun for anyone who likes the idea of biking through a beautiful forest.
Planning a paddling adventure at Restoule this fall?
To get more information on paddling or backcountry camping, check out our website or call the park directly at 705-729-2010.