Nature Challenge
Georgian Bay Islands National Park

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    Georgian Bay Islands National Park The park is made up of fifty nine islands and islets in southern Georgian Bay. The area is a spectacular piece of the Canadian Shield. Accessible only by water, the park provides a wide variety of outdoor activities for its visitors but kayakers are the big winners here. Georgian Bay is Canada's foremost fresh water destination for paddlers. From here you can launch to several local campsites or head out for much longer excursions along the bay's shoreline. Beausoleil Island, the largest of the parks islands, is the main destination for those kayaking the park. You can reach the island with a relatively short paddle from Honey Harbour. There are campsites located all along it's inner shoreline which allows for the possibility of circumnavigating the islands with several overnight stops along route. Beausoleil can also be accessed by water taxi from Honey Harbour.  
 
 

The main park campground, Cedar Springs, is also located on Beausoleil Island and can be accessed by private boat or water taxi. There are toilets and showers available. The other camping areas along the coast are primitive campsites with just the basic facilities. They are accessible by kayak or on foot (after a water taxi ride) if you're a backpacker.

 
 
    Backpackers and hikers have a wonderful trail system available on Beausoleil Island. The trails have a number of interconnections allowing you to choose from a variety of routes and camping areas, including a combination which will let you hike all around the island. Keep a close eye out for the endangered Massasauga Rattle Snake, give it a wide birth and ensure it has an escape route.  
 

You'll find the welcome centre for the park in Port Severn, rather than its old location at Honey Harbour. The Lock 45 Welcome Centre has presentations and displays as well as a friendly staff to answer all of your questions. The parks main office is located in Midland.

Camping

There are 15 campgrounds on the big island with 192 sites in total. The main campground, Cedar Springs has 87 sites, with toilets and showers available. The primitive sites are located along the parks shores stretching from the southern to the northern tip. These sites can be accessed by water or you can backpack in from Cedar Springs campground.

There are two group sites which must be reserved, one at Cedar Springs and a primitive site at Christian Beach, which you have to paddle or hiked to. All of the camping is on Beausoleil Island which is only accessible by water.

Reservations can be made through the parks website via Parks Canada

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Nature

The park sits on the border of the Canadian Shield and the transition is readily apparent in many areas. The intersection of the two distinct regions allows for a variety of wildlife to flourish. The venomous but shy Massausauga Rattlesnake may be found on the island. A protected species, give it a wide berth if you encounter one and notify the park as to where you sighted it. Watch for a variety of bird species as well as numerous orchids in the park.

 

Hiking

There are 11 hiking trails in the park, ranging from 0.3 km to 8.2km.

Cambrian Trail: 2km, Easy. A short walk through classic Canadian Shield the trail is a loop off of the Fairy Trail in the north of Beausoleil Island.

Fairy Trail: 2.5km Easy-Intermediate. A winding trail through coulees and hills on the shores of Goblin and Fairy Lakes. It can be reached from the Rockview Trail in the north of the island.

Rockview Trail: 1.5km, Easy. A short trail overlooking Long Bay it connects the Fairy and Dossyonshing Trails to the Huron in the north of Beausoleil Island.

Dossyonshing Trail: 2.5km, Easy. A rather beautiful area that contrasts marshes and ponds with hardwood forest. This is an easy walk. The trail can be reached from the Huron via the Rockview Trail in the north end of Beausoleil Island.

Massasauga Trail: 2km, Easy. The trail gets its name from the endangered Massasauga Rattlesnake which along with other reptiles and amphibians take shelter in this area.

Portage Trail: 0.3km, Easy. The trail gets its name from its use by the the first nations peoples and early settlers.The trail goes through a wetlands area.

Huron Trail: 8.km, Intermediate, Mixed Use. The trail moves through the transition zone between the lowlands and the Canadian Shield country. It stretches along the eastern side of the big island and connects with several other trails and provides access to a number of the backcountry campsites. This is a good trail for bird watchers.

Georgain Trail: 5km, Intermediate. A shoreline trail along the west side of Beausoliel Island that takes you over stone and sandy beaches as well as the outcroppings of the shield. The trail connects to the Huron at the southern tip and northern section of the island. It can also be reached from the Christian Trail. A nice choice on a sunny afternoon.

Treasure Trail: 3.8km, Easy. The name comes from local lore of treasure buried in the area. The trail follows a ridge out to Treasure Bay. The trail can be reached in the south from Cedar Springs campground on Beausoleil Island.

Firetower Trail: 1.3km, Easy-Intermediate. This trail is a must do, after some climbing you are rewarded with an excellent view of Papoose Bay. The trail can be reached halfway along the Christian Trail.

Christian: 1.5km, Easy-Intermediate. The trail bisects the lower part of Beausoleil Island. connecting Cedar Springs campground to the group camping area at Christian Beach on the west coast.

All of the hiking trails are on the park's islands and can only be reached by water. There is a water taxi available from Honey Harbour but if your only going for the day make sure you have enough time to complete your hike and get back for the pick-up. Consult with the park for details.

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Backpacking

The park is in a spectacular setting in southern Georgian Bay, just off shore from Honey Harbour. The backpacking trail is on Beausoleil Island, which is only accessible by water. Beausoleil is the parks main island and consists of lightly wooded areas mixed with rocky shores and sandy beaches. The trails are most secluded on the back side of the island, which unfortunately provides the longest stretch of trail without a campsite. There is 24 km of trail and there are 15 camp areas along the way. If you want an extended outting.head south from Cedar Springs campground to Beausoleil Point campsite along the Huron Trail. The next day head north along the islands west coast on the Georgian Trail where you can connect with either the Rockview or Massasauga Trail and head for one of several campsite in the north of the park. You can return to your kick off point by following the Huron Trail (branch off on the Treasure if you want another route back) to Cedar Springs. This is only one of several routes you can stitch together on the island which can range from an overnight to several days.The island is only accessible by water so if you don't have access to a boat you can hire a water taxi in honey harbour. Contact the park for campsite reservations and fees.

 

Canoeing

Like sea kayaking you can canoe from island to island or just canoe to the large island (you might find a skirted kayak to be a far better option in these waters). Watch for the wake of motor boats in an open canoe, especially if your loaded with gear. You'll find canoe camping at any of the 15 campgrounds on the island with a total of 192 campsites. You can rent a canoe from the marina near Honey Harbour. The park is not really recommended for canoeing, as Georgian Bay is a huge body of water, usually very choppy, prone to fogs and very cold. Storms can brew up in a minute so check the weather conditions if you go.

Sea Kayaking

The park is a "boaters park" and is a spectacular area for sea kayaking with endless channels, bays and inlets to explore. You can sea kayak from island to island or just kayak to the large island, Beausoleil and go exploring. You'll find great camping on one of the 192 sites at any of the 15 campgrounds on the big island. Be aware the parks waters have a lot of boat traffic and even thought much of the area is protected, great storms can arise in a surprisingly short time. Only very experience kayakers should venture onto the unsheltered back of the island. Make sure your route doesn't exceed your capabilities. If you're not an intermediate or advanced kayaker, hire a guide to help you explore the park. Georgian Bay is a huge body of water, usually very choppy, prone to fogs and very cold. Storms can brew up in a minute so check the weather conditions if you go. Contact the park for more information on skill requirements, routes and conditions.

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Mountain Biking

There are easy mountain biking trials through the forest and along the islands shore. Bikes are allowed on The Huron Trail, a 6 km long fire road and The Christian Trail, a 1.5 km trail across the island. These are mixed use trail so watch out for hikers. Remember the park is accessible by water only. If you don't have access to a boat you can hire a water taxi in honey harbour.

 

Books, Maps and Literature

The Federal Topographic Series map of the area, is Pentanuishene 31 D/13, at at 1:50,000. You can acquire a map of Beausoleil Island at the park office. It shows the location of the campgrounds and the islands trails. The recommended nautical charts for the area are maps 2202 and 2239. These are available from the Canadian Hydrographic Chart Distribution Office and at many marinas and sport stores in Canada. You'll find paddling information for southern Georgian Bay in "Kayaking Georgian Bay" by Jonathon Reynolds and Heather Smith, published by Boston Mills Press.

Note: Geocaching is not permitted in the park.

 

Interactive Map of Georgian Bay Islands National Park


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Georgian Bay
 

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Resources

   

Getting There

Honey Harbour is the main access point. From Toronto take the 400 north and continue passed Barrie to exit 156, where you pick up the 5 which takes you to Honey Harbour. From the north take either the 69 south from Sudbury or the 11 from North Bay. The 69 connects to the 400 while you have to connect to the 400 by way of the 12 in Orillia (there are a few other connector options as well) from the 69. There are docks for boats (fee) available at several locations. Water taxi reservations can be made through the parks website via Parks Canada . Access to the park is by boat only.

 
 

Resources

Surrounding Area

Honey Harbour
Port Severn
- From Wikipedia
Midland
Barrie - Nearest Large Centre
Township of Georgian Bay
Township of Severn

Southeast Georgian Bay Chamber

Park Weather - From the Weather Network

Visit Georgian Bay
Southern Georgian Bay
Discover Muskoka
Central Ontario North - From Out-There
Province of Ontario
- From Out-There
Province of Ontario - Official Site

Hindson Marine - Penetanquishene
Nautilus Marina - Honey Harbour

Accommodations

Guides, Outfitters, Sales & Rentals

Related Links

 

Links of Interest

Canadian Geographic
Conde Nast Traveler

Islands Magazine
National Geographic
National Geographic Adventure
National Geographic Traveler
Outside Magazine
Sunset Magazine
Travel and Leisure Magazine
Wavelength Magazine

 

Out-There's Destinations

 

 


Georgian Bay Islands National Park
901 Wye Valley Road, Box 9
Midland, Ontario
L4R 4K6

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