Thursday, April 4, 2013

Off Season Walk-Thru - McRae Point Provincial Park

Chris and I spent the morning walking around McRae Point Provincial Park, just to get an idea of what the place offered.  I like to do this, especially when the park isn't open.  It's nice to be able to walk around, poke around campsites, and not have anyone looking at you like you're crazy.

McRae Point is just outside of Orillia, on Lake Simcoe.  It's a pretty small park, with two campground areas, a good sized beach, and one hiking trail.

Though it's not easy to accurately judge privacy levels on the camp sites, we would rate them at 2 or 3. Most of the sites in the South Campground (sites 126-203) would get a 3, while the North Campground holds more that I'd rank as 2s. (See here for a description on how I rate privacy and definitions of how I classify campsites)

The North Campground was mostly field sites.  There were plenty of trees to provide shade, but we had a hard time picking out the border between sites sometimes.   Sites 119, 125, 123, 124, 122, 120, 121, 103, 102 and 101 back onto a forest.  Some of them are pretty open, looking more like a cleared spot where you could pull your car over than a camp site, but a few of them have a bit of privacy, and go deeper back into the trees.

The South Campground's sites were meadow sites.  The ones along the water's edge don't back onto the water itself, but most have trails leading down a hill to the lake, as well as the hiking trail.  The sites themselves have a bit of slope, which may make finding a flat spot for your tent a little difficult.

The beach area is pretty nice.  It would be a good spot to take a picnic and hang out for the day.  It was hard to tell if the beach was sandy or pebbly, because there was still ice covering most of the lake.  There was a volleyball court, a sandbox as well as horseshoe pits.

We didn't try out the hiking trail (3.5km) but when we followed a path down from site 154 to check out the lake, we crossed it.  It runs along the shore, and looks like it would be a nice little hike.

So, based on visual inspection alone, I'd say McRae Point would be a nice place to camp, especially for a quick one or two night trip when we don't want to go too far.  As for how busy it gets, my thoughts were, with it being so close to a city, it would be pretty busy.  But I just did a quick check on the Ontario Parks website, choosing random nights during the week in the summer, and on the holiday weekends.  Less than half the sites were booked.  Even the May long weekend was pretty quiet.  Maybe because there are several other parks within 40 minutes of Orillia and Barrie that offer more activities.  

If anyone has camped there, and would like to share their thoughts, I'd love to hear how you liked the park.

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