I’m baaaack! I know you’re wondering if my hiatus included fruity drinks and a beach lounger under the sun. I wish! The truth is my absenteeism from the blogosphere is due to an assault. Just as the new year dawned a dark assailant took my sinuses hostage, gagged and bound my nose and tortured my poor delicate throat. For weeks I gasped for air and the snotty tissue mounds grew higher and higher. I prayed for deliverance. Hell I prayed for some extra strength nose spray and a good night sleep. Yes friends, I was attacked by a horrible head cold. I fought valiantly for three weeks before I overcame the beast. Anywhooo enough of the pity party.
So before I begin this post – HELLO 2016! You have no idea how happy I am to see you. Oh and Happy Anniversary to True North Nomad. Yep, its been one whole year and a great year at that. Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Anniversary (if you’re familiar with the song I know you were just humming the tune to the words as you read them)! Ok so enough with the niceties and on with show.
I wanted our first post of 2016 to be sentimental, something that held extra value to us. Of course we knew this would mean a destination post and therefore the location would more than likely be from somewhere in Ontario – our home province. But where or what had special meaning? Bon Echo Provincial Park! This beautiful park is overshadowed by it’s big brother Algonquin, but it deserves its day in the sun. The autumn sun to be exact, which was the time of year we visited.
Q was excited to see Bon Echo after almost two decades since he worked there. Yes, Q worked at the park during his impressionable teen years. He was the maintenance kid who cleared the trails, picked up trash and stirred the pit toilets. Ok so stirring shit is not what fond memories are made of. But Q grew up in eastern Ontario where Bon Echo is located and he reminisces affectionately of the area and his time spent in the park. So imagine his disappointment when a week before we were to leave on our trip and a previous engagement reared its ugly head and he had to stay behind. Boo hoo! Boo hoo for me because I didn’t want to go alone. Enter the beautiful Miss Lee and her finance Mitch. The trip had been paid for, everything packed and the itinerary set. All my guests had to do was show up, eat the food, canoe and hike with me and believe it or not they graciously agreed to accompany me.
Although not located on a populous route, Bon Echo is still a favourite of many being that it is only three hours from the provincial capital (Toronto) and just over a couple of hours from the nation’s capital (Ottawa). The park can accommodate large RVs although it is most popular with smaller trailer and car camping. There are also backcountry sites scattered on different lakes throughout the park in addition to yurts and cabins that can be rented.
Power boats are only allowed on Mazinaw Lake and prohibited on all other lakes in the park. Canoes and paddle boats can be rented to explore the waterways, or to head over to Mazinaw Rock to view the petroglyphs. Yes, there are real petroglyphs in the park and are an awesome site to see. If you are not able to paddle there is a boat ferry that will take you on a tour for a nominal fee. There are three beaches in the park for those who want to dip their toes and a separate area for Fido, where he can be let off leash to lap around in the water.
As with most parks there are numerous other activities to keep you busy. Bike the roadways in the park, go bird watching, practice your photography, fish for lake trout, pickerel or bass. If you’re in need of some exercise hike one of the many trails throughout the park that all rate moderate to difficult with the exception of two, Bon Echo Creek Trail and the Pet Exercise Trail which are classed easy. Lee, Mitch and I hiked the Clutes trail, a 3.5km loop that has you climbing up and down over large boulders around a miniature lake. We also rented paddle boats and climbed the Cliff Top Trail on Mazinaw Rock, a 1.5 km trek all up hill to a platform with three lookouts and then all the way back down the cliff to your awaiting chariot. The path is well maintained and there are stairs during the more steep, difficult sections. There are also toilets on the cliff in the event the need may arise.
The Rental shop is open sporadically throughout the week so check the hours posted on the door. Oh and listen to the rental owner. He advised we wouldn’t be able to peddle (on the paddle boats) for the 8 hours we had them rented for. Who the hell is this guy? What the hell does he know? Well he was right. Within 20 minutes all of our asses and hamstrings were on the verge of busting! In retrospect we should have opted for the canoes.
Bon Echo has amenities such as showers, flush toilets, laundry, picnic shelters, store and visitor centre! It is busy busy busy during its peak seasons of July and August. Not just with tourists but with mosquitos as well!
Although Q was unable to join us on our trip, he was able to reminisce about the good ol’ days (stirring crap) viewing the photos we had taken. Next time you are looking for a different camping experience in Ontario from the old standbys of Killbear and Algonquin make sure to check out Bon Echo.
~True North Nomad
What is your favourite lake in Bon Echo? What time of year do you enjoy to visit?
Echo beach far away in time – enter your email address top left, bottom right or bottom centre of this post and click “Follow” and never miss an impassioned tale again!