Awenda Provincial Park

Beautiful Georgian Bay scenery is
amongst the best the Province has to offer



awenda provincial park beachAwenda Provincial Park is an isolated 29 sq. kilometer (11sq. mile) natural environment gem located at the tip of the Penetanguishene Peninsula about 15 minutes north of the growing town of Penetanguishene (Penetang to locals).

Situated at the southeastern bottom of Georgian Bay across the Bay from Georgian Islands National Park the area's natural beauty is spectacular and the park itself features the Nipissing Bluff, an imposing 60 metre (197 foot) tall sand cliff that rises from the beaches below. The bluff also separates two unique ecosystems and with a mix of forests, meadows and bogs Awenda contains a multitude of flora and fauna including some rare and unique.

Various First Nations tribes have long inhabited the area and a number of archeological sites are found within the parks boundaries. The area was heavily logged in the early 20th century and today the majority of the forests are second growth.

Awenda Provincial Park also boasts one of the largest public campgrounds on Georgian Bay and is one of the main bases for those wishing to explore the nearby region that includes some of Ontario's most popular tourist destinations including: Especially beautiful in spring and fall the Awenda Provincial Park also includes Giants Island Tomb located just offshore and accessible by boat only.


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Location of Awenda Provincial Park




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Getting to Awenda Provincial Park:


By Car:

Getting to Awenda Provincial Park is very easy and it can be easily reached in 2.5 hours from Toronto or most parts of the GTA.

From Toronto:

  • Navigate to highway #400 North
  • Take exit # 98 and head West on Highway #26
  • Turn left onto Bayfield Street which turns into Simcoe County Road #27
  • Veer left onto County Road #6 South and follow signs into park

From Southern and Eastern Ontario:

  • Navigate to Highway #401 East or West depending upon starting point
  • Exit to highway #400 North
  • Take exit # 98 and head West on Highway #26
  • Turn left onto Bayfield Street which turns into Simcoe County Road #27
  • Veer left onto County Road #6 South and follow signs into park

From Northern Ontario:

  • Navigate to Highway 400 South
  • Take exit# 147 to Highway #12 West
  • Turn right on Penetanguishene Road/County Road #93 and follow signs into park

By Public Transport:


By Rail

Rail travel to Awenda Provincial Park is not an option.

By Bus:

Getting to Awenda Provincial Park by bus is not an option.

By Air:

Getting to Awenda Provincial Park by air is not an option.



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Awenda Provincial Park attractions and activities:


Camping

With one of the largest public camping sites on Georgian Bay the park although seemingly isolated tends to get fairly busy in the prime summer months of July and August as the park is utilized as a home base by many people visiting the world famous Wasaga Beach.



In all Awenda Provincial Park boasts 333 sites divided amongst 6 campgrounds each with their own unique aspects and for the most part the campsites tend to be private and somewhat spread out.

Deer Campground

  • 50 non-serviced sites
  • Comfort Station
  • Radio-free
Turtle Campground
  • 50 serviced sites
  • Comfort Station with laundry facilities
  • Restaurant
Hawk Campground
  • 59 total sites with 9 being serviced
  • Comfort Station with laundry facilities
Wolf Campground
  • 73 serviced sites
  • Comfort Station
Snake Campground
  • 50 non-serviced sites
  • Comfort Station
  • Radio-free
  • Pet Free
Bear Campground
  • 50 non-serviced sites
  • Comfort Station with laundry facilities
There is also a large group campground with 3 campsites capable of handling small groups from 20 to 40 people.

It is recommended to book a campsite of any type in advance especially during the busy summer months as Awenda Provincial Park is well used and can sometimes be fully booked. For more information visit: https://reservations.ontarioparks.com or call the park itself at: 705-549-2231.

Cottage

For those seeking a different park experience there is one cottage available to be rented within the park's boundaries.

Called "The Stone Cottage" it sits right on the Georgian Bay shore and can sleep a maximum of 6 people within its 1000 square foot frame containing 2 separate bedrooms.

It also includes:
  • Furnished living room
  • Full kitchen
  • Dining area
  • Beautiful pine interior
  • 5 metre (15 foot) window and deck offering spectacular views over Georgian Bay, Giants Tomb Island, Christian Island
  • Gas Fireplace
  • Propane Stove
  • Small refrigerator
  • Fire Pit
  • Barbeque
  • Solar charger for electronic devices
  • Parking for 3 vehicles (only 2 included in fee)
Please note that there is:
  • No running water or electricity
  • Toilet facilities are outside (outhouse)
  • Pets and smoking are not allowed
The Stone Cottage books up fast so if interested book early. For more information phone: 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275) or if outside of North America: 1-519-826-5290.


Hiking

What a simply magnificent place to get out and hike as Awenda Provincial Park boasts over 30 kilometres (18 miles) of trails through varying landscapes and ecosystems. The trails are of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty but each offers something unique and all are worthy of a hike.
  • Beach Trail

    Probably the busiest trail in the park as it leads right from the parking lot along Georgian Bay and down to the park beaches. Very easy to navigate it is about 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) in length one-way.

    Hikers will experience great views of Georgian Bay and Giant's Tomb Island and pass through two very different forest regions. Expect to take no longer than 1 hour to complete.
  • Nipissing Trail

    A short 0.5 kilometre (0.3 mile) journey hikers should expect a good cardio workout though on the return trip as the trail includes a 32 metre (100 foot) 155-step staircase down the face of the Nipissing Bluff.

    A trail that definitely should not be missed it exhibits some glacial features that are unique to the park and provides further access to the Bluff Trail.
  • Bluff Trail

    At 14 kilometres (8.6 miles) this is the longest trail in the park and as it winds though most areas it is easily accessed. Of moderate difficulty expect to take up to 3.5 hours to complete. The Bluff Trail connects all the campgrounds together.

    Along the way you with pass through a variety of habitats and follow the edge of the Nipissing Bluff offering beautiful views over Georgian Bay below. One of the busiest trails in the park it is of mixed use and open to cyclists.
  • Beaver Pond Trail

    A short and very easy to navigate 1-kilometre (0.6 mile) trail that for the most part follows a boardwalk through some beaver habitats. Hikers have a great chance to spot wildlife on this trail especially near dusk and dawn and the trail also offers great views of the bluff. Expect to take no more than 25 minutes to complete.
  • Robitaille Homestead Trail

    Also known as the "Dunes Trail" this is an easy to navigate 1.5-kilometre (0.9 mile) hike that leads to an ancient and fragile dune system that is a remnant of the last ice age. Along the way you will also pass by the ruins of an old, long abandoned farmstead.

    Expect to take no longer than 30 minutes to complete (one way).

    Please note: The dunes are a fragile ecosystem and it is forbidden to climb or walk on them.
  • Brule Trail

    A very easy to navigate 2 kilometre (1 mile) trail through some second growth hardwood forest it takes about 45 minutes to complete. A mixed use trail it also connects to:

    • Robitaille Homestead Trail
    • Bluffs Trail
  • Wendat Trail

    An easy to navigate 5 kilometre (3 mile) hike around the park's glacial kettle lake appropriately named: Kettle Lake. Also passing by an old farmstead and over a boardwalk through wetlands this is a good trail for those seeking wildlife, especially birds as the lake is a favoured nesting area for species such as the:

    • Great Blue Heron
    • Red-winged Blackbird
    • Loons
Expect to take up to 2 hours to complete.


Canoeing and/or Sea Kayaking

Awenda's Georgian Bay shoreline makes for some good paddling as the scenery is beautiful but it is recommended for more experienced paddlers only as the waters are more open and not sheltered by small islands.

For less experienced paddlers canoeing is available on Kettle Lake and the park does offer a canoe rental service on site that is open during the busy summer months.

Please note that the popular journey to Giant's Tomb Island should only be undertaken by experienced paddlers in favourable conditions.


Swimming

Awenda Provincial Park is a great place for those seeking a dip into the cool clean waters of Georgian Bay. It boasts 4 beautiful beaches and all are suitable for swimming.

  • Beach #1 - sandy with small pebbles surrounded by large rocks, shallow and good for swimming, located close to parking lot

  • Beach #2 - sandy with small pebbles surrounded by large rocks, great views, also located close to parking lot, dog and pet friendly (leashed)

  • Beach #3 - Methodist Point Bay, best swimming beach, sheltered, sandy-bottomed bay with beautifully coloured water, a MUST to see

  • Beach #4 - Remote and little visited. Not the best for swimming but great open views of Georgian Bay. Very scenic it is surrounded by huge boulders.
Connected by the "Beach Trail" which is multi-use, no trip to Awenda Provincial Park is complete without a trip down to one of its beautiful beaches, especially at sunset.


Biking

Cycling is available on all park roads and on the following trails:
  • Beach trail
  • Brule Trail
  • Bluff Trail
As the trails are all multi-use cyclists must yield to pedestrians.

Fishing

Many people make the journey to the park just to camp and fish. The Georgian Bay waters between the park and Giant's Tomb Island are an angler's haven. Fish commonly caught include:
  • Pike
  • Pickerel
  • Bass
  • Various smaller panfish
Note however that while on-shore fishing is possible (and better than most places in the world) an even better experience can be attained offshore in a boat. The waters can be treacherous however and care should always be exercised.

Excellent fishing also exists in Kettle Lake both on and offshore, Fish caught include:
  • Bass
  • Various smaller panfish

Boating

While there are no boat launch or mooring facilities within the park itself the waters offshore from the park are usually full of craft of all sizes on a warm summer day.

Giant's Tomb Island can only be accessed by boat and many boaters and experienced paddlers make the journey.

The Caribbean like cove of Beach #3 at Methodist Point Bay is also a hotspot amongst boating enthusiasts who like to pull up and rest at anchor all day.

The nearest boat launch facility to the park is located in Penetanguishene.


Nature and Wildlife

For those seeking a chance to see Canadian wildlife and landscapes the rugged tip of this glacial peninsular located only a couple hours north of Toronto is a must visit.

The beautiful waters are set against shorelines containing:
  • Sandy beaches
  • huge boulders
  • granite outcroppings
  • Nipissing Bluff
  • Hardwood Forests
  • Giant's Tomb Island

While further inland expect to enjoy:
  • Hardwood forests
  • Wetlands
  • Fens and bogs
  • Open field and meadows
  • Kettle Lake

The forest floors and glacial formations come to life in the spring in an abundance of colours and the park is particularly known for the following flowers:
  • Red Trilliums
  • White Trilliums
  • Painted trilliums
  • Various species of orchids
  • Various species of carnivorous pitcher plants

In fall, the oaks and sugar maples display a dazzling array of colours and when set against the remaining pine trees displays a sight that shouldn't be missed.

The 60-metre (197 foot) tall Nipissing Bluff is an imposing and spectacular sight in its own right as are the ancient sand dunes. The Bluffs separate two distinct forest zones and below the bluff you will find a mix if:
  • Cedar
  • Alder
  • Hemlock
While above it contains:
  • Oak
  • Birch
  • Maple
The various habitats mean that numerous wildlife including over 200 species of birds can be found within the park and you have a chance to encounter any of the following:
  • Deer
  • Raccoon
  • Fox
  • Moose (rare)
  • Porcupine
  • Coyote (rare)
  • Squirrel
  • Chipmunk
  • Rabbit
  • Wolf (rarest)
  • Eagles
  • Owls



Giant's Tomb Island is also home to rare and protected:
  • Massasauga rattlesnakes
  • Eastern Fox snakes
  • Five-lined skinks
In all there are 32 species of reptiles and amphibians found within the parks boundaries.

In the summer months, interpretative hikes, events and activities are operated that gives further insight into the history and uniqueness of the area.


Giant's Tomb Island

According to Huron legend, said to be the final resting place of the great creator of Georgian Bay and the 30,000 islands: Kitchekwana, who died on the spot this small 5 kilometer (3 mile) by 2 kilometre (1.2 mile) forested speck of land at the entrance to Severn Sound is a favoured destination amongst Awenda visitors.

Looking like a giant crypt from the shoreline it sits approximately 4-kilometres (2.4 miles) offshore and can a formidable 1- 2 hour journey depending upon the weather conditions and the paddler's experience.

The journey is worthwhile though as once ashore you will see why it has always been held sacred. Quiet, pristine with beautiful shallow, sandy beaches with spectacular views of the surrounding region including:
  • The mainland portion of Awenda Provincial Park
  • Beausoleil Island of Georgian Bay Islands National Park
  • Christian Island, Hope Island and Beckwirth Island of the Beausoleil First Nation
  • Open waters of Georgian Bay

The small island is also home to many of the parks rare and endangered species and care should always be taken when exploring

giants tomb ice cave

In the winter, the island has become extremely popular with snowmobilers as huge ice caves form along its western side. The story usually runs nation wide as the cave formations are truly jaw dropping.

There is also a small lighthouse that you can visit from the outside on the extreme southern tip of the island.


Winter Activities

In addition to the above mentioned Ice Caves Awenda Provincial Park is also a huge draw amongst cross-country skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts as there is over 30 kilometres of ski trails as well as open areas to snowshoe.

A Trail Centre at the start of the trail provides a log cabin with a wood stove for warming up. Note that equipment rentals are not available and dogs are not permitted on the trails.


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giants tomb island With spectacular scenery, a rich aboriginal heritage, eye-popping sunsets and beautiful beaches you would think a visit to Awenda Provincial Park would be high on most local residents agenda's but in truth, it remains a little known gem visited by just a small portion of the population. Most have probably never even heard of the place.

Yet if you want to get a true Group of Seven Canadian wilderness experience than this beautiful park just 2 hours north of the GTA perfectly fits the bill.

A great place to spend a long weekend the park also includes a picnic shelter and a store that carries basic groceries and camping supplies. If you want to pop up for only a day there is a day use area and many people do find the beaches here more relaxing than the hustle and bustle of those at Wasaga Beach.

Well worth the journey especially in spring and fall, this Awenda Provincial Park truly represents everything this province has to offer.


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