Witches in the woods, skeletons in closets and shivers on the shale.
Camper Halloween is back at 12 Ontario Parks this October. Parks staff and the Friends of Ontario Parks are putting the final touches on their spooky night hikes, owl prowls, wolf howls and more.
Many activities are cleverly linked to park and species ecology. Halloween events have become so popular that campers are encouraged to book their campsites now, if they plan to participate. Below is a sample of this year's events. You'll find more on Ontario Parks' Calendar of Events.
Food plays a major role on any camping trip. CLICK HERE for highlights like classic campsite recipes, new family favourites for fall and tips on how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey outdoors.
Algonquin Provincial Park
Algonquin's new Halloween Haunted Weekend will take place October 24 to 25, 2014. The Mew Lake Campground, which rents heated yurts as well as electrical sites, will host most of the activities. Festivities begin with an owl prowl on Friday night. Algonquin's Visitor Centre will host a naturalist-led tour of animal skeletons on Saturday followed by pumpkin carving, trick or treating and an evening bonfire at Mew Lake Campground. A wolf howl and night hike cap off the new event.
Bronte Creek Provincial Park
Bronte Creek's Halloween event is the closest to Toronto. Due to its popularity with camper families, the park has planned back-to-back Halloween weekends this year, October 17 to 19 and October 24 to 26 with festivities now beginning on Friday night with a new campfire program. Trick or treating and the park's coyote howl and spooky night hike are all must-do's.
Emily Provincial Park
This Kawartha Lakes-area park near Peterborough is a favourite Halloween Haunt for families. There is good fall fishing on the Pigeon River and nearby, the Trans Canada Trail which accesses Lindsay and Peterborough, is fun to cycle. Halloween Haunt is planned for Thanksgiving weekend, October 11 to 13. Besides trick or treating, pumpkin-carving is a big tradition here and the best always wins a prize.
Wheatley Provincial Park
Ontario's "deep south" provincial park, near Leamington, is the same latitude as Northern California. By far, the coolest thing about Wheatley is its annual Halloween in the Park which also takes place on Thanksgiving weekend, October 11 to 13. Park roads close and about 300 kids trick or treat there every year going from one decked-out campsite to another. The trees and the fishing at Wheatley are pretty cool too. Ontario Parks' new video series, Cool things at Ontario Parks, explains why.