Ontario and Quebec have some of Canada's most picturesque campsites. Here are 10 top picks to check-out this summer:
Charleston Lake Provincial Park, Ontario
Hike or a paddle to this campsite on the shores of Lake Charleston and escape the crowds. It feels remote, but the car is only a 10-minute hike away. From here, you can explore a series of small islands by canoe and still be home in time to grill dinner.
When it’s too warm for exploring the park’s many hiking opportunities, canoe around the inlets or swim near the shore. In hiking season, tackle trails range from two-kilometre interpretive loops to difficult, 10-km trails that trek through forests, wetlands and rocky ridges.
Camping is open from early May to mid October, and there are many sites within a small area if your chosen spot is full. Interior campsites have a fire pit and privy, but car campsites have full facilities.
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
This smallish campground is on the shores of Cedar Lake on the northern edge of the park. With only 30 sites, the area feels more remote than it is, giving you the perfect blend of full amenities with a wilderness experience.
Along with paddling and swimming, the Brent Crater Trail takes you to the floor of a famous meteorite crater. (This site is closest to the North Algonquin Dog Sled Trail for winter adventurers.)
The campsite is open from late April to Thanksgiving and has toilets but no power or showers.
Pinery Provincial Park, Ontario
This camping area is the oldest and most primitive in the park. It’s far from the main gate and traffic, nestled in old growth pines. The beach is a short walk away and a bit less crowded than the shoreline closer to the larger campgrounds.
Walk the 10 km of sandy beach, enjoying the biodiversity of flora and fauna as you go. Farther Inland are walking and biking trails through forest and rolling dunes. This is an excellent place for kayaking the wetlands of Lake Huron's Old Ausable Channel. One of the most spectacular events here is the sunset when viewed from the beach.
The grounds are open May to September and have toilets and washrooms. A nearby campground is open year round to accommodate winter visitors.
Awenda Provincial Park, Ontario
The park is a protected area and consists of thick, forested land along Georgian Bay. Tent sites are surrounded by dense, hardwood trees and are peaceful and shady in the fiercest heat. You are within walking distance of the beach and near several trailheads.
Over 30 km of trails can be hiked or biked in the summer and skied when it snows. The beach trail is always walkable. The lake is warm enough for swimming in the summer and suitable for canoeing all year.
Campsites are open during the summer only and have all amenities including laundry. Winter access to the park is day only.
Silent Lake Provincial Park, Ontario
A beautiful area with dense trees and a pleasant lake, this park is one of the smaller ones in the province and is not too crowded in the summer. The terrain is hilly and challenging for both those on foot and on wheels.
The beach is a huge draw here, and Granite Ridge is one of the farthest sites from it. When the grounds are full, the extra distance from the crowds is well worth the 10-minute walk to get to the swimming area. Hiking and biking trails have steep sections that are less suited to novices. Winter in the park is amazing for cross country skiing, although they prefer you rent one of the yurts when it’s cold.
Campgrounds are open year-round and have all amenities in the summer. During the winter there is no running water at the comfort stations, although the yurts have drinking water available.
Finlayson Point Provincial Park, Ontario
Lake Temagami surrounds the park and has hundreds of bays and inlets to be explored. The peninsula is covered in trees and trails to wander along; try to spot the myriad wildlife that live here.
The shallow waters are warm enough for swimming in the summer and can be reached from the camping area. There are numerous places to fish, or spend your day paddling around the varied shoreline. Trails are well marked and most are easy to moderate, both in difficulty and length.
The grounds are for summer camping only and have all amenities, including Francophone staff. Canoes, kayaks and bikes can be rented although biking is on park roads only.
Sandbanks Provincial Park, Ontario
The incredible dunes and long stretches of beach will catch your eye immediately. This is the world’s largest bay-mouth bar that is also on a freshwater lake and the conditions have created dramatic 60-metre sand dunes. The sites are a bit away from the Visitor Centre and boat launch, though both are within walking distance.
There are excellent sand beaches for swimming with gradual drop-offs, although Dune beach is a bit steeper. No lifeguards are on duty. Canoeing is easy and there are some simple trails nearby to explore.
Late spring through fall is the best time to visit when the water and weather are warm. Full facilities are available nearby and most sites have electricity.
Parc National des Monts-Valin, Quebec
Mount Valin dominates the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region in the southern portion of the province. The many rivers and trails in the area offer adventure for almost any taste. The small campground is off an unpaved road that may be only accessible by foot during winter.
Over 25 km of trails traverse different terrains and elevations throughout a varied landscape that changes dramatically through the seasons. Fall hikers are greeted with the changing colours of the season, while winter snowshoers see the stark beauty of the hills. The backcountry is only open for exploration in the winter. Summer visitors can also enjoy canoeing and fishing.
The park and campgrounds are open year-round and have no amenities other than what’s available at the Visitor Centre. A snowcat shuttle runs during the winter to take visitors to backcountry trails.
Parc National d’Oka, Quebec
This is truly a year-round recreational spot that has multiple activities in all seasons. Summer is warm enough for swimming and heavy snowfalls blanket the area in winter. The park is close to Montreal, making it a great option for campers who also want to visit the city.
Activities in the park include stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, kayaking, hiking, biking and wildlife watching during the summer. The colder months have kick-sledding, snowshoeing and even snow-biking on fat-bikes.
The campground is open year-round although sites with water, sewer and electricity may not be fully functional some months. Washrooms in the community centre are always available.
Parc National du Mont-Tremblant, Quebec
The Laurentian Mountain Range fills the skyline as you canoe through rivers and streams, listening to the birds chatter. The park is huge and has myriad activities to offer in all seasons. La Diable sector has the best access to the main park facilities and some of the best hikes in the park.
Take a short walk to a picturesque waterfall or a strenuous hike/climb to the top of a mountain. There are excellent winter treks to take, but the best thing to do is cycle the trails between May and the first snowfall.
The campgrounds are open May to October and most have full facilities although the closest toilet may be an outhouse. Campsites exclusively for cyclists are set aside and provide easy access by bike as well as access to cycling paths.