If you’ve never heard of Awenda Provincial Park you’ve got company. Nobody I’ve spoken with who lives in southern Ontario has ever heard of the park and yet it offers fabulous hiking on the Bluff Trail and an untouched slice of the Georgian Bay coastline. Awenda Provincial Park sits at the edge of the Penetanguishene Peninsula on the Georgian Bay, 164 kilometres due north of Toronto. It’s just a two hour drive away.
Hiking in Awenda Provincial Park
Awenda Provincial Park is home to a mixed deciduous forest – with sugar maples that are reportedly up to 260 years old. You can see from the pictures in spring that the forest is nothing but a sea of lime green. It’s absolutely glorious – especially with an understory of white, red and painted trilliums.
In the fall this park needs to be on your destination list. It’s considered to be one of the top places in all of Ontario for a fall show of colour.
The Bluff Trail in Awenda Provincial Park
I was in the park to hike the Bluff Trail – a 13 kilometre circular route, accessible from many points within the park.
The trail is easy going with little in the way of elevation changes. It will probably take you under four hours even with stops – though there are certainly additional trails you can hike from it including the five kilometre circular Wendat Trail that takes you around Kettle Lake, an area that’s great for wildlife viewing.
I saw no one on the trail the day I did it. Fortunately there aren’t any bears to worry about but I did see three deer, one owl and heard loads of birdsong. That comes as no surprise as there are over 200 species of birds that go through the area. If you’ve got a good pair of binoculars be on the lookout for the hooded warbler – a summer resident.
The hike does take you across and alongside roads on a couple of occasions – so it doesn’t offer the full on wilderness experience. It’s not a wild and out there kind of hike. But I can’t think of another place I’ve ever been where the forest took my breath away just because of the colour.
May and early June are great times to visit the park because it is so quiet. I can well imagine by summer the campgrounds have filled and it’s far harder to find the solitude I enjoy so much. There are a total of 333 camping sites in six campgrounds, many suitable for RV hookups.
Although the trail takes you on top of the Nipissing Bluff, the views out to the Georgian Bay aren’t nearly as good as I’d hoped for. Perhaps if you came in the winter for cross-country skiing when there wasn’t a leaf in sight you’d get some views out into Georgian Bay over to Giant’s Tomb Island.
Don’t miss a chance to see the Georgian Bay close-up either. The beaches are in much the same shape that they were 500 years ago. And there is a 2 kilometre (one way) trail that allows you to walk past the four beaches that are in the park.
There is an entrance fee to Awenda Provincial Park – $12.39 + tax per vehicle per day.
I highly recommend a visit to Awenda Provincial Park. It’s a perfect destination for families and in spring and fall the beauty of the forest will take your breath away.