I saw a list of Canada’s top 25 parks last year and Rondeau Provincial Park was on that list. I have never been there, so I decided to put a plan in motion to resolve that. My friend Beth was wanting a getaway, so we booked a site and planned our adventure. Here is the list of Canada’s top 25 sites I saw: http://www.explore-mag.com/the-top-25-campsites-in-canada
As I’ve been camping quite a bit this summer so far, I was looking for a place to go that was nice and not five hours away. According to mapquest, Rondeau is a 3 hour drive which is close enough to get away with a 2 night stay, leaving at 3pm after work and staying for a regular weekend without taking any extra days off. We were booked on site 198 as the water sites looked very open and unprivate and as I wasn’t bringing my kayak this trip, it wasn’t a big deal to walk a bit to the water, and then return to a nice woodsy private spot afterwards. My friend Beth liked to hike as much, maybe even more than me, and this park has lots of hiking trails so we were both excited to start exploring.
Here is a map of the campground from the Ontario Parks website http://www.ontarioparks.com/park/rondeau
It turned out the drive was 4 hours, not 3, as we didn’t take the 401 but highway 3. According to mapquest highway 401 would’ve taken only 3 hours, but i’m quite certain that wouldn’t be the case on a friday at 330pm, more like 6 hours! haha! So we opted to take the faster route at the time, highway 3. Highway 3 is a very scenic route to Rondeau and we enjoyed the drive. We left at 330pm and had little to no traffic. Just outside the park you will find a few places to get firewood. We stopped at 2 different ones, as they both offered a wheelbarrow full and we wanted two of them. We spent $5 at one house and $6 at another and filled up all the empty space I had left in the truck with it! Total score! We also bought some corn that we would eat later for dinner.
Upon arrival to the park at 730pm, we were greeted with a very long lineup to register, so we waited. About 20 minutes later we were on our way to site 198. As we drove through the sites, I noticed they were all extremely public and open, something that was common in campgrounds, but as I’d just come back from a backcountry trip, was still very weird to me. Here is the link to that post if you’d like to see the photos and get an idea of the differences between backcountry camping and car camping, if you are unaware of them: http://wp.me/p6r4RK-63.
Our site 198, was not exactly like the pictures. It looked as if some of the vegetation and trees had been removed since, possibly the photographs online were a bit older? Regardless, this was our site and we needed to make it work. I am a fairly private person, I love being in the woods and camping, especially in the backcountry because I love the solace and lack of people. Having 3 neighbours, twenty and thirty feet away from me, wasn’t something I relished, so Beth and I figured out a way to use our space, with as much privacy as we could get, in other words, we privatized our site!
Here are a few before and after pictures to show what we did and how effective it can be.
While setting up our site we had a quick dinner, Octoberfest sausages and some corn we picked up along the drive. We finished setting up and then we each had a yummy s’more, sat by the fire for a bit. Beth was tired so she went to bed but I wanted to get a look at the night sky so i took a walk and ended up at one of the park gates where i met Jessica, one of the staff at Rondeau. She was very knowledgeable and told me the best trails to hike, best beaches to swim at, etc, etc. After our chat I headed back to the site and went to bed. It was a good day!
I woke up around 630, it was very quiet but Beth was awake also. We decided to get up and get our day started as we had alot of plans. We were going to hike part of the Harrison Trail and then spend the rest of the day at the beach swimming! I was really excited for all of it!
We made breakfast, so much simpler than last weekend in the backcountry in Killarney but just as good! We had hot chocolate and baileys (of course!) bacon, over easy eggs and toast to dip in the yolks.
After we ate, we cleaned up and got ready for the day, packing a lunch, two bottles of water each, a few snacks, bug spray, sunscreen, etc etc. We grabbed the map and headed on our way! As the bugs had been very pesky since we arrived we decided to steer clear of the woods and walk lakeshore road along the water and check out the beach access points along the way and all the cute heritage cottages. I had heard that alot of the beach was washed out from Jesica last night and the best accesses were 8-10, but that is where everyone else would be, and I wanted to explore and find my own area, so we checked them out along the way. Along the road there are also cottages, many have been there for well over fifty years, plus! Alot of them had heritage signs on them and they were really neat to see!
We were finding most of the beach accesses were just that, a small open space to get to the water but no beach on either side of it. The water basically went right up to a raised area that was all grasses, weeds, possibly poison ivy, places you couldn’t really sit or spend the day visiting. There were also signs everywhere warning of ticks in the area that carry lyme disease so spending the day sitting in the grasses was not appealing or a smart thing to do.
We kept moving up north on lakeshore road to explore further and found this little guy!
When we found beach access #1 we knew we found our spot to swim for the day. As it was 34 degrees with the humidex and only 930am, and it hadn’t dropped below 28 degrees last night, we decided to change up our hiking plan. The weather network was forecasting 40%pop at 3pm until 9pm and we figured swimming now would be better and we could hike later, in the rain or not, didn’t really matter. We headed back to the site and changed and headed back to beach access #1 to swim in ice cold Lake Erie for the day. Here’s the little spot we found:
We had a great day, swimming in the lake, playing frisbee in the hot sun and shallow water, and enjoying the great weather and our beautiful surroundings! Around 3pm, we were both ready to go for our hike, haha, more ready for a nap actually, but a change of scenery would do, so we packed up our things and headed back to the site to get our backpacks and change.
We headed to The Harrison Trail, but we decided to stop along the way at the Park Store for some Ice Cream. It was delicious and very economical and in the store we found these cool items from @ontarioparks!
Some sights along the way and then the trail, to get to the trail.
Then we found the trail! YAY!
The trail was lovely but it was infested with mosquitos while we were there. It was now 35 degrees with the humidex, so hot and humid and we had been swimming all day and had worn off our bug spray. We recoated but with the recent rain and lack of wind, the bugs outnumbered us and we were both tired from our day in the water so after the first section, we arrived at Bennett Avenue and turned left to walk Lakeshore road back beside Lake Erie, hoping for a small breeze and some reprieve from both the heat and the bugs. We were grateful it was granted!
We got back to the site around 630pm and decided we needed to cool off again, so we went for a quick swim, then returned to camp to make dinner. Tonight we were having hamburgers on the fire with fresh corn. We did have some type of potato planned, however, neither of us cared to wait for them to cook, so we just bypassed that part of our meal. It was much tastier than the photograph implies. lol.
Around 8:15 mother nature decided it was time to end our lovely weather. I was extremely grateful for the day we’d had and that the bad weather had held off for so long. We had spent some time working on our shelter and it paid off, even though my friend Beth was convinced we would not get any rain! We sat in my screen tent which we’d covered with a massive tarp, complete with an awning… there was thunder and there was lightening and we stayed dry and comfy cozy. We watched the rain for a bit and when it got dark we played yahtzee.
We had yahtzee 5 times between the 2 of us in the 3 games we played!! INSANE!
Eventually the rain subsided. Beth was pooped and headed to bed. I decided to stay up and make a s’more as our fire was still going (i had put a large flat piece of wood on top of it while it rained and it sheltered the coals from getting soaked. I wanted to use my new #coleman marshmallow stick as I’d accidentally burned my amazingly awesome last one in the fire last night. 🙁 The stick extends and retracts and it’s really economical. I have used it so many times since I’d purchased it, I knew buying another one would not be a waste of money in any way and was happy I’d bought it. The s’more was excellent as usual! YUM!
I headed to bed and got a good nights rest. I was quite sunburned, I guess that’s what i get for using spray instead of the cream, I just feel like it goes off into the wind and not on your body. Just a note that if you are spending an entire day in the hot sun, to use a strong sunscreen and try and use the lotion as the spray really doesn’t cover the best, especially when putting it on outdoors when there is wind, etc. I usually use the spray primarily for my back as I can’t reach it myself and the lotion for the rest of me, but this time I couldn’t find my lotion and went spray only…. big mistake and lesson learned! I was very pink this morning!
I woke up at 630 and headed to the beach for a quick shot of the sunrise. it was beautiful and I was happy I took the time to walk to the beach and get some pictures, even though I was still very tired.
I got back to the tent about 20 minutes later and went back to sleep for about an hour, then got up and started to pack up the items in the tent. We made a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese, sausages and english muffins with Beths’ moms amazing strawberry jam on them. YUM!
After breakfast we packed up the rest of the site and by 11am we were heading to hike the Marsh Trail. A separate post on the Marsh trail will be up soon, so please come back and check it out for all the details and lots of photos from our time spent there!
I hope you enjoyed my post and as always, if you have any questions, comments, advice or just want to say hello, I’m happy to hear from you!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog!