August 12, 2019

Annual Family Camping Trip: Awenda Provincial Park

We are so lucky to have many incredible provincial parks to explore here in Ontario. Everything from swimming, to hiking and camping, and even cross country skiing in the winter months - our provincial parks are what an outdoor lover’s dreams are made of.

For our family, camping is an annual summer tradition. It’s a way to break away from the every day, to slow down, disconnect and escape the city for a few days of relaxation and fun in nature.

Family friendly camping at Awenda Provincial Park, Ontario

Earlier this summer, our annual family camping trip took us to Awenda Provincial Park. A new park for us to explore, Awenda sits on over 2,900 hectares of forested land on the shores of Georgian Bay. I had been told by many that it was a very kid-friendly park. And just a short 2 hour (approximately 170 km) drive north of Toronto, we definitely agree.

Awenda offers camping in six campgrounds - Wolf, Snake, Hawk, Deer, Bear and Turtle. Sites are shaded beneath Sugar Maples and Red Oaks and are spaced further apart than many other provincial parks. We stayed in Wolf, a radio- and dog-friendly area with electrical hookups (for my parents’ trailer).

The site we stayed at (Wolf 247) was a large site, with two picnic tables. It had a high canopy, which was perfect for the trailer. However, it was also very shady which caused a few issues after it poured the morning of our second last day (more about that later).

The Wolf campground also had centrally located washroom with showers and children’s play structure, which was always filled with kids. 

beach on Georgian Bay at Awenda Provincial Park

We were surprised at how quiet the campground was. Coming from other provincial parks, like the Pinery (which has sites closer together), it was a welcomed surprise.

>> You May Also Like: Camping Reflections

The park has numerous activities, including biking, birding, canoeing (rentals available), fishing, hiking, swimming and more. They also offer a wide variety of staff-led educational programming, for all ages. Regularly scheduled guided hikes, children’s programs, special events and evening programs occur from late June to early fall featuring the unique cultural history and the biology of the park. While we didn’t make it to any of these programs, there was at least one or two scheduled every day, including a Friday night bonfire on the beach. 

white admiral butterfly at Awenda Provincial Park
White Admiral Butterfly
Speaking of the beach… Sadly, this year it was virtually non-existent. To be expected I guess, as the park sits on Georgian Bay which is a part of Lake Huron. Considering how high the water is at my parents’ house along Lake Huron in southwestern Ontario and our family cottage up near Tobermory, it should have been expected.

One of the negatives of the park (if it can even be considered a negative?!) is that the campsites at Awenda are located far from the beach, so a car or bike is required to get around. You could walk, however, from where we were in Wolf, it would have taken approximately an hour on the Bluff Trail which is not necessarily stroller- or clumsy/slow toddler walking-friendly.

beach on Georgian Bay at Awenda Provincial Park
dad and daughter at beach at Awenda Provincial Park

When it comes to hiking, Awenda offers a nice variety of looped and linear, easy to moderate trails that range from 1 to 13 km in length. One trail provides barrier-free access - the Beaver Pond Trail, perfect for those with limited mobility or, like us, pushing a stroller. With a double stroller in tow, this is one of the trails we chose to hike. Located in a nature reserve zone, most of this trail is a boardwalk that takes you through an area altered by past and present beaver activity. The 30 minute hike is full of history, and along the way you will see the remains of both a building and a bridge from the early logging days.

beaver pond trail at Awenda Provincial Park
Beaver Pond Trail
If you are looking to go for a paddle, skip Georgian Bay (it can get pretty rough) and head to Kettle’s Lake. This lake is thought to be a kettle lake formed by the gradual melting of a large buried piece of ice left by retreating glaciers. The quiet and scenic lake is an excellent location for having a picnic and then putting in your canoe or kayak for a relaxing post-lunch paddle. This small, motorboat free lake is ideally suited for the novice paddler or nature enthusiast. It apparently also has good bass fishing. Canoes and PFDs are available to rent through the park.

>> Check out our other annual camping trips, here: 2014  //  2015  //  2017  //  2018

While we didn’t get the chance to get out on the water with our new kayak, we did take a short walk along the Wendat Trail (5km, 2 hour loop) to the boardwalk through Kettle Lake’s marsh. Despite having our littlest (and chattiest) daughter with us on the walk, it was extremely peaceful sitting on the board walk, watching the birds and listening to the breeze roll through the reeds. Ah, nature. Sometimes living in the city, I forget what that sounds like...

Family friendly camping at Awenda Provincial Park, Ontario
kettle's lake boardwalk trail at awenda provincial park
kettle's lake at awenda provincial park
Kettle's Lake
Unfortunately, our time at Awenda was cut a bit short and we took off a day sooner than planned. We woke up Saturday morning to an unwelcome down pour and a soggy camp site. Because the site was so shaded (as previously mentioned), we knew it wouldn’t dry out and we’d likely be forced inside the trailer with the girls for the day. So instead, we decided to pack up and take off. In the end, it was probably for the best. We had bought a new house just a few days before and time was ticking to get ours staged and on the market. Leaving early gave us an extra day of cleaning and packing. But more on the move later…

kettle's lake boardwalk trail at awenda provincial park
kettle's lake boardwalk trail at awenda provincial park

We had a great time with family at Awenda Provincial Park. If you are looking for a family-friendly campground within a short distance from Toronto, we highly recommend Awenda. 

And with this summer’s family adventure behind us, we’ve already started thinking about next… Looking forward to checking another of Ontario's provincial parks off of our list!

You can find Awenda Provincial Park, here: 670 Awenda Park Rd Tiny, ON L9M 2J2

Have you been to Awenda? What other Ontario Provincial Parks do you recommend for families? I’d love to hear!


Family Friendly Camping at Ontario's Awenda Provincial Park

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