From its rich cultural heritage to its picture perfect lookout trail, there’s plenty to love about Restoule Provincial Park.
Planning a fall getaway? Get a sneak peek at this autumn paradise in our new “Cool Things at Restoule” video:
Explore Restoule by land…
The park’s diverse Great Lakes-St Lawrence Forest is filled with red maple, sugar maple, yellow birch, and red oak. In September and October, this forest glows with colour.
Restoule boasts more than 15km of hiking trails, with the Fire Tower Trail leading to the park’s most impressive lookout (100m above Stormy Lake!).
Don’t forget your bike! The Angel Point Trail is a great family cycling route.
…or by water!
Restoule is the perfect base for canoists and kayakers. Paddling under the 100m cliffs of the Bluff is a must. Plan a day trips on Restoule or Stormy Lake, or tackle a four-day canoe route loop that includes the Upper French River and a little peek into Lake Nipissing.
And, of course: Restoule offers great fishing opportunties, as park lakes teem with walleye, northern pike, large- and smallmouth bass, and muskie.
Dive into the park’s rich cultural history
Aboriginal people canoed these waterways after the great continental glaciers receded 10,000 years ago. The Nipissing people lived along the shores of the lake named for them, north of Restoule, and used the surrounding area for fishing, hunting and trapping.
In the 1880s, long before roads connected Restoule with the rest of Ontario, three families came to farm the remote valley of the Restoule River, including the Grawbarger family. At first, they planted food crops, but later, Thomas Grawbarger brought a dozen cattle up the Ottawa River…without roads!
Around the same time, logging companies began harvesting timber, building temporary winter camps of log buildings (you can see the remains of one of these camps in the park’s interior). Lumberjacks cut the towering White Pine, hauled them with horses to the frozen lakes, and then drove the logs down to Lake Nipissing.
In 1909, a forest fire burned much of the forest between Restoule Lake and Lake Nipissing. After that, there was little left to cut in the region, so only local loggers and a few small local sawmills continued.
Decades later though, much of the forest had regrown, and fire had become a potential danger. In 1954, a metal fire tower was built above Stormy Lake. The towerman would climb 30m up to the cupola high above, and look for smoke, recording sightings and warning fire crews by radio. Eventually, spotting planes replaced fire rangers in towers, but you can still find the tower perched atop the Bluff.
Restoule became a provincial park in 1963.
Discover Restoule’s natural heritage
Restoule is a refuge for many plant and animals, including many species-at-risk such as peregrine falcons. The park provides habitat for snakes and turtles in its wetlands, and contains rare Black Ash swamps, in addition to its diverse Great Lakes-St Lawrence forest.
The park contains some interesting geology which forms the surrounding landscape. Much of the bedrock is 1.6 to 1.8 billion years old. The high-point of Lookout Trail was a blob of molten rock that slowly rose towards the surface of the earth’s crust, but stopped just short. More than a billion years of erosion has exposed the top of it, where the firetower sits today.
About 550 million years ago, a huge rift valley began to form to the east, creating the Ottawa and Mattawa River Valleys. The Bluff and the Restoule River are part of the southern edge of that rift.