Ontario is a land of natural beauty with numerous parks to visit and trails to explore. The Georgian bay that extends in the southern western region is an added bonus (like a whipped cream to a latte) – offering numerous scenic trails and campsites along the shores of its magnificent water body.
A trip to Beausoleil island in Georgian Bay Islands National Park will leave you lasting memories and the best way to explore the island is to hike its numerous trails spreading across the island. The island extends from north to south for about 7 kms and has differentiating geography between its southern and northern sections.
The Southern trails offer a variety of experience including dense wooded forests, shallow beaches and best cabin sites for camping. Some of the highlights include
- Lookout point: Hiking the lookout trails is one of the first things most visitors do as it is the closest trail to the visitor’s center and it offers a good view point in the woods. The hike takes us through swampy lands and a board walk into the woods
- Christian beach cabins: Christian trail is wider and crawls through tall trees leading us to the western end of the island where Christian beach is located. Although named as ‘beach’ the shores are swamped with bushes and probably not the best place to swim. The trail ends near the well maintained and sophisticated Christian beach cabins, and connects with the Georgian trail.
- Beausoleil point: Extending along the western shores of the island the Georgian trail takes us for a good hike to the southern tip of the island ‘Beausoleil point’ – a perfect picnic spot for lunch
- Beausoleil’s First nation and cemetery: The island’s Heritage trail passes through an aboriginal cemetery where you can learn about the history of the islands first nation settlements
- Cedar Spring beach: The cedar spring campsite is located between the end of the Heritage trail and the parks visitors’ center. The best part of cedar spring is its shallow natural beach where you can relax and let your kids play.
The Northern trails offer a different experience to that of its southern counterpart taking us through rocky trails and numerous bay inlets. Some of the highlights include
- Fairy Lake: Fairy Lake is the biggest lake in the island and is also the most scenic. Hiking the Fairy lake trail is probably one of the best things to do in the island and it offers scenic view points and rocky platforms to rest.
- Honeymoon Bay: The northern trails pass through various bay inlets where you can enjoy eye catching views of the Georgian Bay. Honeymoon bay is my favorite and the campsites here offer a serene place to spend your weekend with your family.
- Georgian Trail Light House: Hiking through the northern section of the Georgian trails leads us to a light house point with rocky shores making it a perfect place to take lunch break and relax.
- Camp Kitchikewana and the beach: As you hike through Huron trail and connect to the Tonch trail, the hiking path leads us through YMCA camp Kitchikewana reminding us of our childhood camping times. The beach near the camp is probably the best in the island offering secluded yet family friendly waters to spend the afternoon with your family and kids.
Beausoleil Island also has a good range of biking trails for bicycling enthusiasts. Some of the islands lengthiest trails are broadened and maintained for biking. Bicycling is allowed Christian trail, Georgian trail and Huron trail. While Huron and Christian trails offer a relaxing bike ride, Georgian trail offers a more challenging rocky experience. You can rent bicycles from Parks Canada Visitors center located near the Cedar Spring campground.
Ideally it would be a two day trip to take time relax and explore both the southern and northern parts of the island through hiking. However if you do have time limitation or simply don’t want to hike too much, then I can throw in a few final words to help you choose which one to go to.
- If you are a family and looking for fun activities like biking, letting kids play in the beach and stay in sophisticated cabins I would suggest you to go with choosing to visit the southern part of the island.
- If you prefer less crowded serene visit, I would suggest you to go with hiking the northern trails and camping in the honeymoon bay
If you go, these tips might be helpful…
- The visitors center has only a few bikes for rental, so it would be wise for you to reach the island early in the morning to make sure you get enough bikes rented for your family
- If you visit in the months of June/July, make sure you carry enough mosquito repellents as these tiny troublers could spoil your hiking experience in the woods
- Be aware that the island is full of Massassauga rattlesnake – Ontario’s only venomous snake. These guys have a habit of staying still when they encounter human disturbance and you will happen to stumble upon atleast a few while hiking (we spotted 3 of them in our 2 day hiking trip)
- Consider staying in one of the islands beautiful campsites (Honeymoon Bay is one of my most favorite). You can also opt for a cabin experience if you want a relaxing time with your family (Cedar spring cabins and Christian beach cabins)
- The island is accessible only via boat, so make sure you take you have necessary transportation arrangements. Parks Canada offers Day tripper – a water taxi service for the day visitors. You can also avail services from various water taxis located in Honey Harbour (You can call parks Canada customer care to get water taxi contact information)
Sakthi is an outdoors and blogging enthusiast from Toronto who currently runs parksbloggerontario.com and mapleleafcountry.com - both the sites are focused on exploring the backcountry and parks in Canada.
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