Thursday, May 24, 2012

Provincial Park Review: Presquile

I'm guessing almost any camp ground is going to be better when you're one of the only people camping there - no crowds, no noise, no disgusting bathrooms.... but our first trip to Presquile was definitely one of our best trips to date.

View down the shore from our site
Chris and I came to this park when the kids were babies, in the off season just to drive through and have a picnic.  We were able to drive through one of the campgrounds, High Bluffs, and at the time we thought the sites were really spectacular...right on Lake Ontario?  What could be better?  Well, to be honest, those water front sites wouldn't be our first choice, not now anyway.  They are very open, at least the ones closest to the water, and offer no privacy. The back loops of this section are more private though.  This section was also the most populated during our trip (arriving the monday of Victoria Day Weekend and leaving on the Wednesday.)  Our campsite was in the Lakeside Campground, and our site was right on the water as well, but it was treed in and would be fairly private even when there were a lot of people around.

I only got to do a walk through some of the other sections but for the most part the sites were of good size and with medium privacy.  I wasn't impressed with the Pines Campground sites, and didn't get into the Elmvale and Trails End ones at all but the Maples and Craig's sites were pretty nice.  *Note - in the spring, the Craig's sites sit amid a bit of stagnant water which increased the number of mosquitoes in that area, but this will have dried up by summer.

You can see the boardwalk wiggling off into the distance
Presquile has a park store, with the usual selection of candy, basic camp meal options like Kraft Dinner, camp gear, ice cream and apparently, in the summer, a small cafe.  There is also several other things to check out, including a nature centre (not open when we were there) the Lighthouse Interpretive Center and Gift Shop (also not open) and a nice selection of trails.  We were only able to get to one, the Marsh Boardwalk Trail, (the kids didn't want to stop throwing rocks in the lake long enough to eat let alone go for a hike) and we took the dogs for a walk along the bike trail.  I definitely recommend the Marsh Boardwalk Trail.  There is 800m of boardwalk, excellent for spotting birds.  We saw a family of swans feeding.  Swans were introduced to the area and have thrived here.  Experts are unsure of the impact their presence will have on the eco-system yet, but they sure were cool to see.

Mom, Dad and three babies
We aren't big bird enthusiasts, mostly because its not an activity one can do with young kids who don't understand the concept of quiet, but I did manage to spot 4 species I hadn't seen before: Double-crested Cormorant, Common Flicker, Eastern Kingbird and Northern Waterthrush. We also saw lots of Red Winged Blackbirds, and there were some brave crows and bluejays who kept stealing kibble out of the dogs dishes.

Considering the time of year, we were lucky to not have swarms of black flies and mosquitoes.  Some of the parts along the bike trail had swarms of little flies that I'm not entirely sure the name of, and in some spots it was so bad it was like walking through a beaded curtain.  They don't bite though, it was just annoying to suddenly get a mouth full of little flies.

I did a quick check to see how booked up Presqu'ile is in the summer, choosing 2 nights, mid week in mid July and other than Trails End Campground and High Bluffs, most areas are about 50% booked.  Whether this indicates the park is semi-quiet all summer is debatable but when you look at how quickly parks like Algonquin fill up, it does seem possible. When I did the same thing on a random July weekend (non-holiday weekend) the only campground with available sites was Craig's, which is radio free.  We never take a radio, but I guess a lot of people must if only 11 out of 35 sites there were booked when the rest of the park is entirely full.  I put the question out to you, how important is it to you to have music playing when you are camping?

I got the feeling a lot of locals use the park on a regular basis for biking and hiking.  When we were in line to get our camping permit, there were a lot of people there getting day-use season passes.  Yes the pass lets you use any Ontario Park (excluding overnight use) but considering a lot of these people biked in to buy their pass, I figured it must be popular with those in and around Brighton. This is understandable because the bike path runs right along the shore of Lake Ontario (for the most part) and there are three really nice beaches and a lot of picnic areas, including a brand new screened in picnic shelter.

In general, I give Presqu'ile a good rating.  The site are the usual mix of good and bad, like with any park, but the good out number the bad.  There is plenty of things to occupy your time, lots of trails, as well as a store and educational opportunities.  Brighton is only a few minutes away and has at least two grocery stores where you can get supplies, and there is a Walmart about 15 minutes away in Trenton. (We had to make a trip there to get a few more little propane canisters.

If anyone else has been to Presqu'ile and would like to share their impressions, stories or favourite sites, leave a comment.  I'd be interested in hearing what others thought of this park.


  1. Hi there
    Do you remember which number camping you had in Lakeside?

  2. Hi again,
    There are 3 on the lake in Lakeside campground, one seems very in view of everybody, the one at far east corner #231.
    Were you in the middle, or the west corner? Even if there were trees, did you have some sun on the campground?
    Last question 😀 - could the dogs be on the beach right at your site?
    We are going this summer and Im researching which site would be best!
    Thanks a lot.