How to plan your visit to Presqu’ile

Located on Lake Ontario in Brighton, Presqu’ile Provincial Park is one of our most popular parks in Southeastern Ontario, welcoming thousands of visitors every month.

From the long, sandy beach to beautiful hiking trails to world-class bird migrations, Presqu’ile is a favourite for many.

During the hot summer months, the park can get extremely busy. Presqu’ile often hits capacity — especially on weekends — and can’t welcome any more visitors.

This year, you need to book your day use permit in advance to guarantee entry.

We really hate to turn away visitors, especially knowing many have driven several hours to get here.

Planning a day-trip to Presqu’ile? Here’s what you need to know to have a fun and frustration-free visit:

  1. Do I need to make a reservation to visit for the day?
  2. How do I know if the park is already at capacity?
  3. When is the best/worst time to visit?
  4. What are the park hours?
  5. How much does it cost to get in?
  6. I made a camping reservation, do I wait in the same line?
  7. Looking to make the most of your trip to the area?
  8. Can you recommend a good beach other than Presqu’ile?
  9. The beach is really busy, what else can we do in the park?
  10. Where can I get lunch?
  11. Can I stay overnight?
  12. Where can I park?
  13. What kind of accessibility does the park provide?
  14. Are PFDs available at the park?
  15. Can I rent a picnic shelter?
  16. Can I bring my dog?
  17. What should / shouldn’t I pack?
  18. Is the water safe to swim in?
  19. What else should I know before visiting Presqu’ile?

1. Do I need to make a reservation to visit for the day?

Yes. This year, you need to book your permit in advance to guarantee entry.

Our park is getting more and more popular, but we only have room for a limited number of visitors each day.

Daily vehicle permits become available at 7:00 a.m., five days in advance of your arrival date.

Reservations can be made:

  • online (here’s a walkthrough of how to book, including how to use your seasonal permit)
  • by phone: 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275)

Do you have a seasonal permit? You still need a reservation to guarantee your spot. When reserving, you can provide your permit’s serial number, and your cart will update at the confirmation page to show a $0.00 charge. 

2. How do I know if the park is already at capacity?

Follow Presqu’ile on social media (FacebookTwitterInstagram)!

On busy days, weekends, and when advance permits are fully reserved, park staff will provide capacity updates on Twitter.

3. When is the best/worst time to visit?

Presqu’ile often reaches capacity on summer days. 

To avoid disappointment, book your permit in advance.

One of the best times to visit Presqu’ile is during the spring and fall shoulder seasons. Beat the crowds by visiting in May/early June or after Labour Day.

Make plans to witness one of the best waterfowl migrations in the world!  Presqu’ile is one of the world’s best places to view this mass migration in March.

A small selection of the many ducks at Presqu'ile

If you’re set on a midsummer trip, please secure your permit in advance. We recommend visiting on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

4. What are the park hours?

Presqu’ile is open year-round from 8:00 am – 10:00 pm, seven days a week.

5. How much does it cost to get in?

Day use costs $21.00 per vehicle or $125.00 for buses.

In 2021, we’re making it easier for Ontarians to enjoy the outdoors by providing free weekday daily vehicle permits from May 1 to September 2, for all provincial parks Mondays through Thursdays. 

Remember: you still need to book your permit in advance to guarantee access.

6. I made a camping reservation, do I wait in the same line?

Yes, all visitors must enter through the main gate. Campers will be directed to our camp office to register upon entry.

student talking to visitor

To speed up the check-in process, we recommend pre-registering your campsite before your arrival.

To pre-register, click “Log in to your Ontario Parks accounts to pre-register” on your reservation confirmation email.

7. Looking to make the most of your trip to the area?

If you’ve soaked up enough sun at the park and want to make the most of your trip, take the opportunity to explore Northumberland County or Downtown Belleville.

You could:

NOTE: please confirm each attraction is available this season.

8. Can you recommend a good beach other than Presqu’ile?

Absolutely, however nearby beaches at North Beach and Darlington provincial parks are also very popular, and both require you to reserve your daily vehicle permit in advance to guarantee access.

Nearby North Beach Provincial Park boasts the soft sands and rolling waves.

family looking at lake
Darlington Provincial Park

If you’re coming from the GTA, consider stopping at Darlington Provincial Park.

Looking for more hiking trails and picnic areas? Visit Ferris Provincial Park in Campbellford where you can walk the pedestrian suspension bridge over the Trent River Gorge and view the beautiful Ranney Falls.

suspension bridge
Ferris Provincial Park

Proctor Park, right in the town of Brighton, has space for picnicking as well as a lovely trail system.

Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area just north of the 401 and north of Brighton also has an extensive trail system.

9. The beach is really busy, what else can we do in the park?

Birding

Bring a pair of binoculars!

As a major stopover for migrating birds, Presqu’ile is renowned among birdwatchers as one of the premier birding locations in the province.

people birding

At least 338 species of birds have been spotted within in the park and 130 species are known to nest here.

Discovery Programs

Our park naturalists are out in the park every day conducting drop-in “Ask the Naturalist” sessions, either from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm or from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm in various park locations.

The Discovery Program schedule is available at all park buildings (gatehouses, store, etc.), and is posted on bulletin boards throughout the park.

Hiking

A favourite for many, the paved one-way driving loop (Lighthouse Lane and Paxton Drive) takes visitors around the peninsula.

Pioneer Trail
Pioneer Trail

This road has a designated walking/bike lane and is plowed in the winter. It is still a road, however, and walkers are urged to be cautious, particularly in the busy summer months.

For those wanting a more natural experience, Presqu’ile has 12 km of traditional “off-road” trails, including the newly repaired Marsh Boardwalk Trail.

Lighthouse Interpretive Centre

The Lighthouse Interpretive Centre introduces park guests to the fascinating cultural history of Presqu’ile.

Nature Centre

The Lighthouse Interpretive Centre is open daily during the summer months from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm Monday – Friday, and 10:00 am – 4:00 pm on weekends.

Nature Centre

Visit the Nature Centre and catch a glimpse of the rich, natural history that Presqu’ile has to offer.

Get up close to the live frogs, snakes, fish, and turtles that call the park home.

The Nature Centre is in the yellow house located on Lighthouse Lane between the Group Camp and Lighthouse Interpretive Centre.

It is open daily from Canada Day to Labour Day weekend from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

10. Where can I get lunch?

Presqu’ile is a great place to have a green picnic! Picnic tables are located throughout the day use area.

  • our Park Store is a great place to stop for a cold treat during your visit! We have 16 flavours of delicious ice cream, popsicles, milkshakes, and more. This year, the store is now serving iced coffee!
  • Presqu’ile Park Place is located right outside the park entrance. Visitors can get frozen drinks and treats, and Pollywogs food truck serves up some tasty french fries, poutine, and burgers
  • head into the towns of Brighton or Trenton for some local eats
  • looking to cool down and enjoy a meal after a day at the beach? Discover the delicious variety of cafes, restaurants and patios downtown Belleville has to offer

11. Can I stay overnight?

Yes, but Presqu’ile is a very popular summer camping destination and fills up quickly.

We recommend booking early or booking a shoulder season trip. Reservations for camping open five months in advance of the date of your arrival.

12. Where can I park?

Parking is available throughout the park.

If you are hiking a specific trail, there are parking lots available at all the trailheads.

road

Our Beach 1 and Beach 2 parking lots provide plenty of parking to access the beach. The Day Use loop has lots of places to park on the grass in the picnic areas.

Please obey all signage. Visitors who park along Bayshore Road/Presqu’ile Parkway outside of the park could receive a fine and have their vehicles towed.

13. What kind of accessibility does the park provide?

beach matsDuring the summer, access mats create an accessible path through the sand, starting from the Beach 1 parking lot to the beach.

An all-terrain wheelchair can also be borrowed. The main gatehouse, camp office, Lighthouse Centre, and Nature Centre are barrier-free.

The first 800 m of the Marsh Boardwalk trail is also barrier-free. This trail does travel through forest after the boardwalk section.

14. Are PFDs available at the park?

Yes, our PFD Lending Program loans out PFDs to both adults and children, available at the main gate house.

Some rentals operations may also be available at the park. Please check with the park directly to see what is available before visiting.

15. Can I rent a picnic shelter?

Sorry, picnic shelters are not available to rent this season.

16. Can I bring my dog?

Definitely! Please keep your dog on a leash (no longer than 2 m).

Dogs are not allowed on the sand beach at Presqu’ile. If your pup would like to go for a swim, please take them to the rocky shoreline in the day use area or campgrounds.

The sandy beach is a designated swimming area for our visitors in the summer, and the rest of the year it is an important refuge for migrating birds who need to feed and rest.

17. What should / shouldn’t I pack?

What you should pack: hand sanitizer, face coverings (masks), sunscreen, hat, water, snacks, swimwear, lifejackets for kids, change of clothes, towels, bug spray (DEET), and reusable picnic items.

family in day use

What you shouldn’t pack: alcohol (only permitted on your campsite, not on the beach), firewood (no campfires on beach), and drones.

We don’t recommend packing: large pieces of beach shelter (including volleyball nets, oversized umbrellas or sun shelters), radios, and single-use plastics.

NOTE: You can find garbage cans located throughout the park. We encourage visitors to practice the “pack it in, pack it out” method. Please be prepared to bring larger items of garbage (such as broken chairs or beach umbrellas) home with you.

18. Is the water safe to swim in?

Yes, unless otherwise posted.

The beach’s water quality is tested every week. Any advisories will be posted on the Ontario Parks Alerts page.

person sitting near water

Visitors are reminded there are no lifeguards; water safety your responsibility.

Personal flotation devices are available for loan at the park.

19. What else should I know before visiting Presqu’ile?

Before visiting Presqu’ile, please take some time to educate yourself about one of biggest issues: garbage.

Our staff put in amazing efforts to keep our parks clean.

picnic tables

They work hard to make sure that garbage is frequently emptied, but at times, the garbage is more than they can keep up with.

When visiting parks, remember to do so responsibly and respect park resources. It takes a team to manage a resource sustainably and we can all make a difference together.

Wondering how you can help?