Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Provincial Park Review: Restoule

View from lookout on Fire Tower Trail
Our recent trip to Restoule was only for two nights but we very much enjoyed ourselves.  The park is off the beaten track, with fairly private, woodland type campsites, and several options for activities to keep you occupied.

We stayed in the Putt's Point campground, near to the beach.  The site we had was large enough for our two tents, but the slight pad slope made it difficult to find good spots to set them up.  There was a good distance between us and the next row of sites behind us, and probably 20 feet of wooded area on either side.  You could see your neighbour, but they weren't so close you felt like they could be staring at you all the time.

We were also two sites down from a vault toilet, coming off a holiday weekend.  In some places we've been, the odour from the outhouses would waft a good distance but these didn't.  While they did smell (it's an outhouse, what can you expect) once you were inside, they were also clean and mostly free of bugs.  The comfort stations, on the other hand, smelled bad from a good distance, but were fine once you got inside.

Standing at the base of the Fire Tower
Restoule offers several trails for hiking, three of which allow bicycling as well.  We didn't have our bikes, though next time I think I'd take them.  Two of the bike trails are rated easy, and perfect for young children (or those of us with bad knees) while the third, Gibs Trail is unmarked, unmaintained and considered challenging.  We did the Fire Tower Trail, which is 7 or 8 km (depending on which sign you are looking at) and though it starts off very flat, gets quite difficult.  There are several sections where you are picking your way up or down steep hills and jumbled rock cuts.  I made the mistake of wearing flip-flops because I hadn't packed socks and knew my shoes would rub my heels raw.  Not exactly easy.  The view from the lookout was worth it, as was poking around the old fire tower high on a rocky plateau.

The park also offers excellent canoeing.  Being park of the Upper Restoule-French River canoe route, you can use Restoule as a jumping off point for the back country route, or chose to take day trips.  It's a beautiful area, and if we go again, I'd take my canoe for sure.

The only disappointing thing for us was the beaches.  With water levels being so low, there wasn't much actual good swimming area.  The water stays really shallow (maybe 6-7 inches) then drops down into a mucky, stick-filled ooze that the kids wanted nothing to do with.  We did check out the visitor's centre, which is very small, but a good way to kill half an hour.  There's no park store either, but the town of Restoule, about 9km away, has a good general store that has, literally everything...gas, food, tools, dishes, camping gear, rope, chain...it's an old fashion general store, something you don't often see anymore.

In all, Restoule was nice.  There were some noisy campers, some singing Disney songs like they thought they were Celine Dion, and some who were whooping it up like they were in a bar watching play off hockey.  None of the sites stood out as being "best in the park" sites, nor were there any that we saw that made us say "That site would suck" That's pretty rare, in my experience.  Other than some of the pad slopes being annoying for levelling a trailer, or finding a good place to put a tent, the sites were all acceptable. (that we saw...we didn't manage to drive down every little path) Also, all the sites were fairly open to the roads.  It was like someone went by with a giant, rectangular cookie cutter to make them.

If anyone else has been to Restoule, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  I'm curious if the beaches would be better earlier in the summer, and if the lookout is even better with the fall colours.

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