Life’s a beach

When it’s hot and humid nothing beats a trip to the beach and no beach in Ontario is more famous than Wasaga Beach Provincial Park on Georgian Bay. The popular14 kilometre (8.7 mi)  beach was in the news last week when it was announced that it had gained new ground. 12 hectares or 40 new acres have been purchased from a private landowner. Good news for the eastern hog-nosed snake and other species at risk in this area. The new land includes part of the Ganaraska Trail, dunes, and Nottawasaga River shoreline. The acquisition is a nice addition to the park’s existing pine-oak forest, dunes, naval history and, of course, its amazing beach, the most visited in the province.

But if you’ve been to Wasaga and are looking for something new, why not try some of the provincial park beaches along Lake Erie’s north shore?

We visited five of the nine provincial parks on Lake Erie in early June:

There are three beaches at Rock Point Provincial Park. A long sandy beach, a new pet-friendly beach and a beach that was once part of an ancient coral reef. The smooth rock on it is covered with fossils including one that looked like a giant foot-long caterpillar. Hawks, songbirds, and butterflies migrate through this park every spring and fall and a bird banding station tracks much of the action. Guided hikes and children’s programs run all summer long. On July 22-23, the park will host a program called “Mysterious Night Skies”  led by the Royal Astronomical Society members complete with telescopes.

Our next stop was Selkirk Provincial Park which is a little beauty with a stunning view of Lake Erie. It is immaculate and has a small, crescent-shaped beach that is perfect for young children. Park staffer Mike Ramsay showed us around and told us June evenings in the park are simply magical thanks to thousands of fireflies that light up the park woods. We liked campsites 8 and 18 but really, all the sites looked pretty nice. A children’s program runs here during July and August and canoes can be rented to explore the park’s marsh.

Turkey Point Provincial Park has been operating since 1959. What impressed me most was the park’s stand of White pine. Totally unexpected this far south. The large park beach stretches the entire length of an early cottage community here and is quite sheltered from the Lake Erie undertow. Turkey Point is also the only provincial park with a golf course. And better yet, a round is under $20. The original settlement of Turkey Point dates back to 1793. Some say it was named for an early settler with a pronounced Adam’s Apple. Others say Turkey Point got its name because of its wild turkey population. The population was virtually wiped out but twenty years ago, wild turkeys were re introduced to the region and today, they’re back in healthy numbers.

Our next stop was Long Point Provincial Park where the beach is one of the finest we’ve seen in Ontario. It goes on and on. This park also has huge sand dunes just like Sandbanks Provincial Park. Campsites #438 and #439 are two sites set in among the dunes and they are about as close to the beach as you can get! Long Point is also recognized as a biosphere reserve by the UN and is world renowned for its birding