Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Rainbow Falls Provincial Park straddles the TransCanada Highway, making it a convenient stopover if your trip takes you between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay. The rugged mixed forest, rocky outcrops, and island dotted lakes of Superior’s North Shore inspired some of my favourite Group of Seven paintings. It’s a beautiful drive. Keep your gas tank on the high side of empty though, there are some long stretches between gas stations.

A black and tan German Shepherd on a long leash clamber over grey rocks

The gorgeous hike along the this park’s namesake falls is difficult. It seems weird to call a hike with a boardwalk difficult, but oh the stairs, it feels like you’re taking the stairs up the Eiffel Tower. I’ve been working on gratitude lately, and the walk up these stairs made me grateful for Milo the AwesomeDog’s powerful leash pulling.

Bright green ferns in the foreground of a waterfall cascading over grey rocks.

a bright campfire with sticks positioned at right angles from each other

My firewood appears to be left over from a building project allowing for a geometrically pleasing camp fire.

Milo and I stayed at Whitesand Lake Campground, it was nicely wooded, but the trees were mature and there wasn’t much as much privacy providing understory between my campsite and my neighbours as I would have liked.

Also, this park lacks an off leash dog area and I saw more off leash dogs in the campsite than I’d seen in other parks. I expect some people will give their dogs off leash time whether or not there’s a legal spot to do it–an argument for putting dog exercise areas in more parks. Either that or hiring more park rangers!

 

A lake surrounded by mixed forest and emptying over the top of a waterfall. A big dog nose is poking into the. bottom right corner of the picture.

Milo can’t keep his nose out of my pictures.

The beach at Pancake Bay Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Oh my heavens, the white sand beach at Pancake Bay Provincial Park goes on and on and on. Since the bay is shallow the water isn’t as cold as you’d expect for Lake Superior. Some folks call it warm. They’re wrong. But, it is less cold. It only took a minute or two for me to catch my breath after jumping in.

a white sand beach between blue water and a pine and spruce forest.

How many dog beaches look like this?

The electrical spots in this campground are packed pretty tight and didn’t appeal to me. If you want a spot that feels more remote, forgo the electricity and get a campsite in the 400’s. Even though that end of the campground is a bit more rustic than the rest of the place, it boasts a modern comfort station with showers and laundry facilities.

I booked a site in the 400’s because it was close to the pet exercise area and the dog beach, both of which are fabulous. The pet exercise area is a green meadow sprinkled with daisies and plenty big for Milo to enjoy a good game of Frisbee.

The dog beach is continuous with, and just as nice as, the other beaches in the campground. The sand is soft and the water clear.

a German shepherd leaping forward on a white sand beach

I’m always impressed by Milo’s intensity when he’s chasing a ball.

A German shepherd splashing though blue water.

I enjoyed a nice swim with Milo (one of my favorite things), and Milo chased his ball into the water (one of his favourite things). Our afternoon at this beach was lovely.

a black and tan German shepherd dog sitting on a white beach under a blue sky.

Pancake Bay is a great place to enjoy a couple of restful days with your dog.

Grundy Lake Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada–great for dogs!

Grundy Lake Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada is a good place to camp with your dog. Except for the beaches, you can take your leashed dog everywhere in the park, and there is a waterfront leash-free pet exercise area. The pet area, adjacent to a parking lot and boat launch, is not the prettiest part of the park, but it does offer a lovely view across the lake, and Milo didn’t seem to notice the aesthetic drawbacks.

grundy dog beach 1

Pet exercise area at Grundy Lake Provincial Park.

Probably due to the convenient parking, this pet exercise area gets used. Every time Milo the AwesomeDog and I showed up we met one or two other dogs. Since people tended to keep a close eye on their dogs I felt comfortable letting Milo enjoy this swimming spot.

German shepherd running along the shore of a lake.

Just a dog and his ball at the beach.

Although when one woman did show up with five kids and two big dogs, Milo and I beat a quick retreat. That just seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. Overall though, Milo spent enough time swimming to tucker him out, which is really the point.

German shepherd trotting along the shore of a lake.

Milo enjoying Grundy Lake.

 

Grundy Lake Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Grundy Lake is a great place to camp with an RV trailer.  The park is large—almost 500 campsites—but those sites are grouped into several smaller and more intimate campgrounds.

Campgrounds with names like Poplar, Jack Pine, and Balsam. Walking into the park office was exciting because this would be be the first time I’d be camping with an electrical hook-up. My enthusiasm waned somewhat as I was assigned to a campground whimsically and romantically named “Trailer.”

Happily, it turns out that Trailer is a great little campground. Its large sites are ringed by mature spruce, pine, beach, and birch trees, which provide both shade and privacy. The campground is quiet and has feeling about it that encourages slow deep breaths.

Grundy Lake campsite

My site in the campground named ‘Trailer.’

I spent the previous two days at Killbear Provincial Park where I camped in the midst of a gaggle of young families—children tearing all over the place, dogs barking, clotheslines draped with beach towels, bedding, and underpants. The general hubbub reminded me of family camping trips when I was little.

Trailer at Grundy Lake has a completely different character. My 18-foot camper was the little one on the block and my neighbors were mostly retired couples in a very different phase of their financial life cycle than the young families at Killbear. The happy babble of kids was replaced with bird song and the sound of crackling fires. Sigh.

I have to admit that I was grateful for the electricity. For the past week or so the weather switched back and forth between torrential rain and blistering heat. I pulled up on a blistering heat day, but the rain left a gift–clouds of droning mosquitos. For some reason, I had to wrestle with the weight distribution bars when unhitching the trailer (looking back I think this was because the site wasn’t level) and by the time I had camp set up, I was a cranky, sweaty, mosquito-bitten mess. I walked into the camper and for the first time ever turned on its AC.

At full blast, it had my trailer at meat locker temperature in about six minutes and I could turn it off and take a delicious nap. That evening Milo and I took a long walk and as we were sitting down to dinner it started to rain. What a treat to be able to retreat into my cozy, dry camper, make a cup of tea, plug in my computer, and settle in for an evening of writing.

 

Lookout Point Trail at Killbear Provincial Park

lookout point trail signThis is a lovely short hike. Parts were pretty muddy due to recent rain, but a boardwalk snaked through the wetland area, and there were lots of rocks for scrambling. Milo didn’t mind the mud.

We walked by a cool citizen science project, “iWETLAND: Crowd-Sourced Wetland Science,” inviting hikers to document the water level with a text message. I followed the instructions precisely–I can’t resist science content. Citizen science and wetlands, what’s not to love?

The lookout promised by the name of the trail was breathtaking–a quiet and lovely place to relax and reflect. If I wasn’t so hungry, I could have sat there all afternoon.

German shepherd sitting on a rock looking out over a deep blue bay

Milo, you know, looking out, at Lookout Point.

I give this trail two thumbs up. Bring a picnic and make a day of it!

Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The best thing about Killbear is the off-leash dog beach. A pine needle covered path winds through mature forest to a nearly deserted black and red sand beach. A perfect place for a frolic and swim.Killbear dog beach 2Milo had a great time–he deserved some fun exercise after a long drive.

silhouette of a German Shepherd Dog against sunset on a lake

sunset frolic at Killbear Provincial Park dog beach

And we’re off

I promised to share my adventures on this trip, but as I pulled out of my driveway on Tuesday morning, avoiding adventures was really my top priority.

That’s why getting a reliable truck and trailer, lots of safety equipment, and a premium CAA membership weren’t splurges.

That‘s why I was shooting for a three hour drive between campsites, and only driving every second day.

I’m actually aiming for peaceful and joyful trip.

My neighbour took this picture through her living room window as Milo and I were leaving for our first stop at Killbear Provincial Park.

and we're offShe had a lot of time to get her camera because I wasn’t that efficient getting out of the driveway. My Fitbit told me that I put on about 2000 steps just hooking up the trailer.

There are lots of steps to go through to get that thing hitched up:

  • back up to the hitch

    a trailer hitch with chains, break connections, and a weight distribution bar

    lots of things to attach properly…

  • attach the hitch
  • attach the weight distribution bars
  • put up the main jack
  • attach the chains
  • attach the wiring
  • attach the break-away brake line
  • put up the stabilizer jacks
  • pick up the wheel chocks
  • test the signal and brake lights
  • turn off the propane
  • make sure everything is locked
  • put up the step (easy to forget this one)

None of these steps are difficult. They just take time and a bit of elbow grease.

The drive to Killbear was successfully and wonderfully uneventful. I even let my hands stray from 10 and 2 by the end of the trip. I had a pull through campsite, so I didn’t need to do anything tricky like backup my rig.

After the hitching, driving, unhitching, and taking Milo for a walk, I spent my first camping afternoon napping. An appropriate end, I think, for a non-adventurous day.