I can look out my window and see the leaves beginning to turn, but summer is still fresh in my mind. We managed to pack a whole lot into a short amount of time this past summer, and as much as I love the fall weather, I’m sad to leave the freedom of summer behind.
Camping was the name of the game for our holidays this year, and as usual, the provincial parks we visited didn’t disappoint. We took extended trips to Arrowhead and Silent Lake, with a long weekend trip to Turkey Point.
Originally I was going to write separate posts for each park, but then I figured, a comparison post might be more interesting. We enjoyed all of our camping trips. But how did they stack up against each other?
Arrowhead is a favourite for us, and we return year after year to this beautiful park.
Location: Huntsville, Ontario
Camp Sites: Roe campground is by far our favourite area to camp, with easy access to the beach. Riverside also has some nice sites as well.
Beaches: The beaches are sandy and the water is warm. While there are several beaches, Beach 4 is our favourite, as it’s less busy than the main beaches. Make time for an evening trip down to the water – you won’t be disappointed, and you may even have it all to yourself. There’s also kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals available at the main beach, and this is the perfect lake to take advantage on.
Biking: There are two biking trails at Arrowhead, the Arrowhead Loop Trail and the Hardwood Trail. Both are double track, and are 5km and 3km respectively. The Arrowhead Loop is a great trail to power through if you are an avid rider – just watch for pedestrians, as it crosses roads and parking lots and is also a hiking trail. It has a mix of dirt, gravel, and sand surface. Careful on the hills, as there are a couple of deadly steep ones with loose gravel. Trust me, I took a tumble a few years ago. My kids have to walk the steep one, and I’d recommend walking it to anyone who isn’t 1000% comfortable on a mountain bike.
The Hardwood Trail is shorter, but lots of hills. There’s a nice lookout point about halfway through.
Hiking: There are several hiking trails in the park that we don’t take nearly enough advantage of. The Mayflower Lake trail is hilly, but rewarding. The Stubbs Falls trail is a beautiful trail with a rewarding waterfall view, though this trail can get busy at times. Big Bend Lookout is another quick walk with a worthwhile view.
TIP: Stubbs Falls in a must see on any trip to Arrowhead. Walk down the rocks right to the water’s edge, or take in the view from the bridge above. The kids love climbing all the rocks and every year they can go a little higher and a little further. You can even paddle down the river to reach the top of the waterfall.
Ok, we visit Turkey Point purely for the bike trails, not going to lie. It’s close enough to home to make a weekend of it, and we always have a great time, even if we did get rained out this year.
Location: Turkey Point, Ontario
Camp Sites: Lots of beautiful sites in this park, but definitely do your homework before booking, as some areas are more open!
Beaches: The beach here is not located in the park – you’ll have to drive about 10 minutes down to the town of Turkey Point to reach Lake Erie. Usually, we don’t camp here during prime “beach season”.
Biking: You’ve hit the jackpot. Through the park and surrounding area there are over 78km of fantastically maintained mountain bike trails. Everything is well marked, with maps posted throughout the trail system and a variety of green, blue and black trails. This is why we camp here!
TIP: Get a trail map before heading out: https://tpmbc.com/printabletrailmap/
Hiking: Again, we don’t take enough advantage of the hiking trails here, since we are usually on our bikes, but there are several beautiful trails in the park.
This was our first time visiting Silent Lake, and let me tell you, it was absolutely beautiful. The park did not disappoint, and it was great to try something new. We will be back, that’s for sure!
Location: Bancroft, Ontario
Camp Sites: There are some great sites here, with beautiful features, but rocks, roots and steep hills mean they are ideal for tents, not trailers. Small trailers can fit on some of the sites, but if you have anything over 20ft, the choices are probably slim. If you’re tenting it, take advantage of one of the walk in camp sites – they were so nice!
Beaches: There are two sandy beaches at Silent Lake, but as both were pet free, we enjoyed finding rocky little points along the lake trail that we could swim.
Biking: The park advertises that it has mountain bike trails in various lengths, but realistically – don’t visit this park for the bike trails. The trails are winter ski trails that are opened for bike use in the summer. They are double track, and not maintained. The amount of debris covering the trail made it dangerous, not to mention areas with giant holes, etc. Combine that with the fact that I always felt like I was riding up hill, and it didn’t make for an enjoyable ride. Now… if you accidentally sidetrack on to the Lakeshore Hiking Trail, the trail is amazing, but really, that’s only if you get lost…
Hiking: The hiking at this campground made our trip. We walked and walked, then walked some more. Bonnie’s Pond Trail was just the right amount of challenge for the kids, while the Lakehead Loop has some gorgeous terrain. We walked a section of the Lakeshore Trail and loved the path and rocks along the water’s edge. While I would have loved to do the full Lakeshore Trail around the lake, it’ll have to wait a few years until the kids are bigger.
Tip: Take a trip to Egan Chutes!
We were lucky this year in that each trip provided us with different experiences. Silent Lake has the best hiking trails, while Turkey Point is the place to go if you want to ride the trails. Arrowhead offers the best beach experience and is the place to go if you like spending time on the water. Camping has been a blast for us this summer, and this fall we are planning our first autumn camping experience. Can’t wait to see what new adventures that will bring us!
I knocked off a ton of adventures off my 101 in 1001 list over the summer during our camping trips. Keep an eye out for the 101 update post that’s coming!
Thanks so much for stopping by! I often post about my 101 challenge and my outdoor adventure with the kids with the hashtags #101in1001 #101adventures or #asimplesomething. You can join me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Or, you can follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe via e-mail to be alerted to each new post!