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This 14-kilometre Savanna Trail follows a wooded path from the park store to the traffic circle. It then takes over the left side of the one-way day use road, along the Old Ausable River Channel, and travels through the wooded landscape to Picnic Area 8. The Savanna Trail then continues by turning into the forest once again. This section of the trail follows a wooded path to the Visitor Centre, where it exits the forest and runs along the left shoulder of the road, over the Store Bridge, taking you back to the park store.
Pinery’s rare habitats provide shelter and space for 319 different species of birds, 124 of which have nested in the park. You can watch the magnificent migration of thousands of Tundra Swans in March or watch warblers pass through in May and June. Observe Red-throated Loons off the beach in the spring, or walk the trails in summer looking for a brilliant Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole or Cerulean Warbler. In the winter, Red-tailed Hawks and Tufted Titmice are common sights at the Visitor Centre feeders.
Pinery has a variety of different ways to explore the Old Ausable Channel. Rent one of the many canoes, Corcls, stand-up paddleboards, single or double kayaks.
The best way to discover Pinery is through the park’s extensive interpretive programs for visitors.
Bike Hikes: Join Park Naturalists for a leisurely, 1 1/2 - 2 hour bike ride along the bicycle trail, exploring and learning about park environments.
Evening Programs: As the night quietly descends on Pinery and the sun sets over Lake Huron, make your visit more rewarding with a visit to the outdoor theatre.
Conducted Walks: Park Naturalists lead leisurely, 1- 2 hour hikes to help you discover Pinery and its special features. Themes may include butterflies, birds or even creepy crawlers, while more general topics explore the need for fire in the Oak Savanna or the struggle of life on a sandy dune.
Pinery for Kids: Children’s programs are held from late June to Labour Day weekend. These energy packed programs will give you an hour and a half of nature discovery with games, stories and animals.
Ooze n’ Gooze: Join the Naturalist staff for an hour of aquatic discovery. Get your hands wet as you wade through the marvel of life that thrives in the Old Ausable Channel. This adventure begins below the dam by the Park Store in July and August.
Enjoy fishing anywhere in the Old Ausable River Channel (OAC) except beside the canoe rental docks and the south side of Burley Bridge.
The Old Ausable Channel supports a warm-water fish community. It is home to nearly 50 common species, including many kinds of minnows, sunfish, catfish, perch and some top predators like Northern Pike and bass.
The OAC is home to three species at risk fish. We need your help to protect them and not remove them: Pugnose Shiner, Lake Chubsucker and Grass Pickerel
Note that boat motors (gas and electric) are prohibited at all times within the Old Ausable Channel. Catch and release is encouraged. There is a ban on baitfish use.
Ontario fishing regulations and seasons apply. A license is required for those 18 years of age and older.
Pinery offers many options for hiking. Explore Pinery’s exceptional natural environment via trails like those along the Old Ausable Channel, to the beach, or through Carolinian Forest or rare Oak Savanna. Some offer viewing platforms and good opportunities to view park wildlife. Several trails have benches to rest upon and Riverside, most of Cedar, and Heritage Trails are wheelchair accessible.
See general trail overviews below:
Bittersweet Trail (1.5 km) (Guide Available, Flat terrain, Stairs, Viewing Platform)
Search for mammal signs on this enjoyable walk along the Old Ausable Channel. Since most mammals are nocturnal, the best time to take this walk is in the early morning or evening.
Carolinian Trail (1.8 km) (Guide Available, Hilly terrain, Stairs, Pond)
This trail is located in a floodplain forest dominated by Carolinian plants and wildlife that are at the northern extent of their range. Stairways, benches and viewing platforms make observing nature an enjoyable experience.
Cedar Trail ( 2.3 km) (Guide Available, Flat terrain, All but the extension is wheelchair accessible, Open year round, Viewing Platform)
Journey through one of the rarest North American habitats the Oak Savanna. A 1 km trail extension also provides the user with access to the shore of Lake Huron. Excellent example of Oak Savanna habitat.
Heritage Trail ( 2.5 km) (Guide Available, Flat terrain, Wheelchair accessible, Viewing Platform, 0.6 Km extension)
Meandering through the rare Oak Savanna habitat, this trail was the site of a prescribed burn in 1990. The colour trail guide highlights the human history of Pinery.
Hickory Trail (1 km) (Flat terrain, Stairs)
This trail leads you along the Old Ausable Channel. Watch for the ragged bark of the Shagbark Hickories and the seedpods of Bladdernut as you examine the rich diversity of plants along this trail.
Lookout Trail (1 km) (Viewing platform, Hilly terrain, Stairs)
From the viewing platform at the top of the dune, you might see a soaring turkey vulture; bring your binoculars.
Nipissing Trail (2 km) (Hilly terrain, Viewing platform, Stairs)
This challenging trail leads you to the top of Pinery’s oldest and largest dune ridge, affording a view of most of the park, Lake Huron and adjacent farmland. Observe the dramatic re-growth of plant life that has occurred after the controlled burn of 1993.
Pine Trail (0.8 km) (Open year round, Flat terrain, Stairs)
The dense stand of Red Pines is the result of a catastrophic fire in the late 1800’s. This section of forest is very different from the Oak Savanna found throughout most of the park.
Riverside Trail ( 1 km) (Guide available, Flat terrain, Wheelchair accessible, Viewing Platforms)
Passing from dry upland oak/pine forests, onto the Old Ausable Channel floodplain, this trail is home to a diverse variety of plants and wildlife. Benches and viewing platforms make this trail ideal for nature watching.
Wilderness Trail (3 km) (Guide available, Flat terrain, Stairs to beach, Viewing platform)
Pinery’s longest trail takes the visitor through some of the park’s oldest forest growth. This path wanders through a Red Pine and mixed Oak-Pine forest to the shore of Lake Huron.
10 kilometres of Lake Huron shoreline provide each visitor to Pinery with the opportunity to wade into this Great Lake and go for a swim. Lifeguards are not posted on the beaches.
From snow-covered dunes to a glistening river, Pinery's winter essence is silent beauty. When conditions permit, visitors can explore this winter wonderland by camping outdoors in a tent or RV, or in one of the park's heated roofed accommodations.
Pinery offers some of the region's best cross-country skiing on 38 kilometres of packed and groomed ski trails.
Ausable Trail is a 4.7 km track-set, classic skiing trail. It is rated as medium difficulty.
Dune Ridge Trail is a 9.4 km track-set, classic skiing trail. It is the most challenging of the park's trails.
Huron Trail is a 9.6 km track-set, classic skiing trail. It is rated as medium difficulty.
Chickadee Trail is a 4.2 km track-set, classic skiing trail. It is rated as easy difficulty.
Skate Ski Trail is a 11 km trail groomed for ski-skating. It is rated as easy difficulty.
Visitors are welcome to snowshoe along walking trails or in other areas of the park. Ungroomed roadways and trails offer excellent opportunities to explore by snowshoe. However, we ask that visitors avoid steep slopes and environmentally sensitive areas.
Pinery has a large outdoor rink in front of the Chalet open from morning until after dark, weather permitting.
The toboggan hill near the Winter Chalet is lit during the evening and open daily though the winter, conditions permitting. The Winter Chalet contains washrooms and is kept heated for use.