When I think of my love of nature it always stems from my childhood visits to the Pinery. So it only seems fitting my first nature-related post feature that very special place. Located at the underbelly of Ontario (a few hours west of Toronto), this campground and conservation reserve is nestled along the southern coast of Lake Huron and showcases a medley of ecosystems. Some examples are dense forest and vegetation; lush marshland, and even rolling arid dunes.
Although not the most remote of campgrounds Ontario has to offer, the Pinery can still provide you with an intangible “one with nature” experience, due to its many different environments. You just need to know where to look!
Trying to see some wildlife?
I recommend exploring the park and its many trails at dusk or dawn. This is your best bet to experience what the Pinery has to offer without human interruption. A peaceful mist rolls along the Old Ausable Channel during these prime hours that you don’t want to miss. You are likely to see a whitetail deer grazing, or a beaver working hard on its dam if you have enough patience and awareness. At night raccoons flourish, and you are all but guaranteed to see or hear the little rascals wandering about. Throughout the day squirrels and chipmunks will dart in and out of view, and if you have any peanuts you are guaranteed to make some furry friends!
When it comes to predators…
You don’t need to worry too much about them. There aren’t any bears in these parts and only the odd coyote. Nevertheless, tie up your garbage and food items in a tree at least 4 meters off the ground and 2 meters from the trunk. You don’t want anyone to make a mess of your campsite or bring unnecessary danger to you and your group.
Want to go for a swim?
The Pinery is also home to 9 stunning beaches. All are accessible by car and most of which are seaweed and pebble free. What is a seaweed called if it’s in a lake, anyway? Lakeweed? Who knows. There is plenty of soft golden sand to lay out your towel, and build that 3 story sand mansion you’ve always known you could! ? Just don’t forget to change out of your bathing suit back at the campsite, because that sand GETS EVERYWHERE!
Canoeing and Kayaking
However, my favorite part of the Pinery is the Old Ausable Channel, and the kayak and canoe rental facility. One of the most peaceful and spiritually enlightening experiences you can have at the park is to set out onto the river at dusk, and paddle along the water trail that weaves around southern Ontario before emptying into Lake Huron. I don’t have my kayak yet, so an hour on the river sets me back a mere 12$. But you are welcome to bring your kayak or canoe and spend hours on the water. Your best bet is to buy an hour at 7:45 pm (their last available slot), and watch as the sun sets, and the wildlife emerges. I’ve seen beavers, turtles, frogs, and very large fish during these twilight hours, but you might also see deer at this time.
The Pinery is a staple of Ontario, and if you are visiting the province, I recommend at least checking it out for a day, if not a full camping trip! You can visit the website here.