Port Elgin Ontario

The perfect summer beach resort
Swimming, nature, sunsets and more...



port elgin sunset Another of Lake Huron's famed beach destinations is the town of Port Elgin Ontario.

Located just south of Southampton it was founded in 1849 and by the late 1800's it was and still is one of the largest communities on Ontario's west coast.

In 1999 the two communities merged with the village of Saugeen to form the Town of Saugeen Shores.

Approximately 7600 people or over 60% of the new town's population thus resides in this thriving port community. For more information visit: http://www.saugeenshores.ca or http://www.visitportelgin.ca

The main draw to the town has always been the port that was constructed in the late 1850's and at one time serviced local industry. Today it is almost fully dedicated to servicing the recreational and tourism industry and when combined with the beautiful beaches it boasts, Port Elgin Ontario makes for a great place to holiday in the summer.

The area has been a long time cottage destination for Southern Ontario's and also Americans from neighboring northern States. It is also renowned for its world famous sunsets that many say rival those seen anywhere else on the planet.

While isolated and somewhat hard to get to, this doesn't however stop the droves of visitors that flock here to experience the natural beauty every summer.


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Location of Port Elgin Ontario




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Getting to Port Elgin Ontario:


By Car:

Located right on Highway #21 (the main artery along the west coast of Ontario) the town while isolated, is within an easy day drive from most Ontario communities)


For directions:

  • Highway 400 North to Highway #69 North
  • Navigate to Owen Sound (visit Owen Sound for directions)
  • Head West on Highway #21 to Port Elgin Ontario


    By public transport:


    By Rail

    Rail transport to Port Elgin Ontario is not an option

    By Air:

    Air transport to Port Elgin Ontario is not an option

    By Bus:

    Public bus services is available to Port Elgin Ontario. Visit: http://www.can-arcoach.com for more information.


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    Port Elgin Ontario Attractions and Activities



    Swimming

    Beaches

    Along with the harbour the main draw to the town is undoubtedly its beaches. That's right plural as it sports 6 beaches each with its own distinct beauty and character.
    • Main Beach
      Located just south of the harbour this is a beautiful 3 kilometre (1.8 mile) long expanse of some of the finest white sand this country has to offer.

      The water is warm (by Ontario standards) and is perfect for swimming on a hot summer day. For generations one of the most popular swimming and sunbathing locations on the entire coast it remains so even today.

      With full facilities including restaurants and parking the main beach at Port Elgin Ontario is one of "THE' places to visit if looking for a Lake Huron beach experience.

    • Goble's Grove Beach

      An entirely different beach experience is attained at this large 0.5 kilometre (.3 mile) long sandy beach just south of town as it is virtually empty compared to its more famous northern neighbour. It is however just as beautiful and the swimming is just as good.

      Limited facilities are available however toilet facilities are on site.

      For those seeking a quiet and serene beach away from the crowd but still offering good swimming opportunities than this is the place for you.

    • Eidt's Grove Beach

      Another beautiful stretch of fine white sand a little further south of town can be found at Eidts Grove Beach. Quiet, and virtually deserted it makes for the perfect place to relax. The main drawback however is that there are no facilities on site.

      Swimming is again excellent as the waters are shallow and sandy.

    • Shipley Beach

      Located just south of the town this small beach is a favourite amongst swimmers and sun worshippers. While limited parking is available there are no other facilities are on site.

      Shipley's is a truly beautiful albeit small beach mainly popular due to is seclusion from the rest of the waterfront.

    • North Shore Park Beach

      Located north of the harbour the park has full facilities including children's playgrounds. With the same sand and water conditions as the other area beaches it is another favourite for swimmers.

      Abundant parking is available and it makes for a great place to use as a home base to explore the town.

    • Miramichi Bay

      A hard pebble beach means this is not the place to go swimming. What draws visitor's here is the nature and stunning sunset vista.

      Flocks of migratory birds pass by here both spring and fall and the Bay makes for a great stopping point. It is one of the best spots on the entire Lake Huron coast to get that iconic Canadian image of flock of birds set against a sunset.

      Limited parking is available and no other facilities are available on site.

    Check out this video below:



    Port Elgin Railroad

    A unique feature to the town is that it operates the only steam engine locomotive and narrow gauge railway in the Province.

    Departing from THE STATION on the town's main beach this half scale replica of an 1836 train makes a 1.6 kilometre (1 mile) journey to North Shore Park before looping back.

    In operation since 1983 and running between Canada and Labour Day, the 20-minute journey is a must for children and history buffs alike and long the way you will enjoy some very nice scenic views.


    Boating

    The town was founded around its deepwater port and the port today remains one of its main centres. While it at one time catered to the commercial fishing industry it now is fully dependent on the recreational boating industry.

    The harbour can accommodate vessels with a 10-foot draft up to 150 feet in length and with 268 slips and full services it remains a vital port on the Lake Huron coast.

    Important for both sailing and power boating on Lake Huron, for more information visit: Saugeen Shores Harbour


    Fishing

    While the commercial fishing industry died out a long time ago fishing is still one of the areas greatest recreational activities.

    Boaters can head out to the deeper waters of Lake Huron and cast their lines but to many anglers, just fishing from shore or off the town's piers is just fine.

    Nearby, the Saugeen and Sauble River's are legendary fishing destinations.

    Each year the Lake Huron Fishing Club also hosts the Chantry Chinook Classic Salmon Derby which bills itself as Lake Huron's largest fishing derby. For over 30 years anglers from across the world have converged to participate. Running from late July through early August. Visit Chantry Fishing Derby for more details.

    Whether fishing offshore, onshore or on one of the area's rivers, Port Elgin Ontario makes for a great base to experience one of the best fishing destinations this province has to offer.


    Canoeing/Kayaking

    Port Elgin skirts the Saugeen River which is one of the best canoe routes in this part of the Province.

    Access point # 15 is located just south of town and the routes most popular access point at the Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area can be reached just 18 kilometres (10 miles) south.

    For more information visit my: Saugeen River Canoe Route page.


    Hiking

    The town has somewhat dedicated itself to hikers and has marketed itself as something of a hiking destination. The town does boast 3 nice hiking routes.
    • Saugeen Rail Trail

      This year round use 11 kilometer (6.7 mile) trail links the town to its sister community Southampton. It follows the former CN rail line.

    • North Shore Trail

      Also connecting Port Elgin to Southampton is this trail that follows the Lake Huron shoreline. At 6 kilometres (4.2 miles) one-way it makes for a great place to stroll along on a warm summer evening especially if you can catch on of the town's world famous sunsets.

      Paved, this path is well utilized by hikers cyclists, joggers and bladers alike.

      If you are in the area do not miss the opportunity of enjoying this walk no matter what time of day as the scenery really is beautiful.

    • Beiners Bush Trail

      A nice short hiking trail to the north of town through forests and rolling hills it is great to utilize all year round.

    • Waterfront Promenade

      While maybe not as famous as the boardwalk in nearby Southampton the walk along the town's waterfront especially at sunset can be stunning.

      With the Chantry Island lighthouse off in the distance and vivid colours streaking across the sky the sight can become quite memorable.

    Cycling

    • The Saugeen Rail Trail is an excellent 8 kilometre (4.8 mile) paved trail that connects Port Elgin to Southampton. When combined with the North Shore Trail along Lake Huron it makes for a scenic and beautiful way to spend a day. This route is known as the Bruce Country Beach Hop cycling route.

    • Northshore Trail follows the shoreline of Lake Huron and along the way you will pass by Miramichi Bay, a known birding hotspot. The trail runs parallel but separate to the road and makes for one of the most beautiful cycling routes in the area.

    • Gore Drain Trail and Rotary Way Trail are two side trails that connect to the Saugeen Shores trail network. They further connect to the MacGregor Point Provincial park trails so cycling journeys of greater distances can be planned.

    Port Elgin Ontario is also the staring point for two other Bruce County cycling routes:

    • Beaches South

      From Port Elgin south to Kincardine. This 110 kilometre (66 mile) round trip passes by some of the most beautiful coastline Lake Huron has to offer.

      Along way pass by beaches at:

      • Port Elgin main beach
      • Coble's Grove
      • Eidt's Grove
      • MacGregor Point Provincial Park
      • Brucedale Conservation Area
      • Baie du Dare
      • Inverhuron Provincial Park
      • Stoney Island Conservation Area
      • Kincardine

      Other sights passed along the way include:

      • the Bruce Power nuclear generating facility (the largest in the world with 8 Candu nuclear reactors)
      • The Bruce Power Visitor's Centre
      • Huron Wind – the first commercial wind farm in Ontario
      • Enbridge Ontario Wind Farm – a larger wind farm located next door to the other

      Cycling's that wish to continue further south can follow the Lighthouses south route to reach the Point Clark lighthouse.

    • The Saugeen River

      This cycling route from Port Elgin to the Town of Paisley is a 45 kilometre (27 mile) loop that follows both banks of the slow flowing Saugeen River as it flows towards Lake Huron.

      A great stopping point along the way is at Saugeen Bluffs Conservation area as this is one of the most picturesque spots along the whole Saugeen River.

      From Paisley cyclists can continue further along the:

      • Eight Mills route to Chesley and Williamsford
      • Greenrock Swamp route towards Walkerton

      For more information on these and other cycling routes in the area visit: www.explorethebruce.com

    Birding

    Port Elgin Ontario boasts MacGregor Point Provincial Point lying just south of town. This is one of the best birding destinations in the province especially during the migratory runs. The park hosts the annual Huron Fringe Birding Festival each spring.

    Miramichi Bay just north of town features mudflats that make it a regular stopover for many species including Great Blue Herons. In all Port Elgin has documented over 200 species of birds in the area.

    Further north lying just offshore of Southampton's main beach is Chantry Island and its bird sanctuary. This is another of the province's birding hotspots.

    Some bird species that are regularly seen in the Port Elgin Ontario region include:
    • Black-crowned night heron
    • Bald eagle
    • Osprey
    • Ducks
    • Canada Geese
    • American Egret


    MacGregor Point Provincial Park

    Just 3 kilometres (1.8 miles) south of town lays this park that is so significant in the Ontario bird migration route. It also features camping and some of the best shoreline in the region.

    A tiny but beautiful park many visitors to Port Elgin Ontario utilize this as their home base for further exploration into the region. Visit my MacGregor Point Provincial Park page for more information.


    Huron Fringe Birding Festival

    Annually drawing thousands of visitors this celebration of the return of migrating songbirds is held at nearby MacGregor Point Park. The influx of visitors into Port Elgin itself is significant and it marks the end of the log, hard winter.

    For more information about this festival visit: Huron Fringefest.


    Sunsets

    As with many other west coast of Ontario communities Port Elgin also touts itself as having the best sunsets in the world. The boast is not without merit though as the sunsets can truly be spectacular.

    While almost anywhere along the coastline between Southampton and Port Elgin can be a magnificent location for viewing this wonder of nature the following locations are particularly good:
    • Port Elgin Ontario Main Beach
    • Northshore Park
    • Miramichi Bay
    • Eidt's Grove Beach
    • Gobles Grove Beach
    • MacGregor Point Provincial Park
    • Brucedale Conservation Area
    • Inverhuron Provincial Park

    If you plan to stay in the Port Elgin Ontario area make sure you head to somewhere on the waterfront to hopefully catch a glimpse of the amazing colours that mother nature can display. Of course this cannot be guaranteed but it is worth making the effort.

    The town proudly proclaims that its sunsets are the best so go out and hopefully have a chance to experience one.


    Chantry Island

    This small island with the historic lighthouse that really is the iconic landmark of the area is but a few kilometres offshore. More associated with nearby Southampton for which Port Elgin is now merged a trip to the area would not be complete without a visit to this unique site.

    Chantry Island and its inclusive bird sanctuary have been covered in more detail here.

    Tours to the island and lighthouse run during the best summer months. For more information visit: http://www.chantryisland.com.


    Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area

    Located closer to Paisley that Port Elgin this beautiful conservation area is however just 18 kilometres (10 miles) southeast of town and it is so beautiful it is one of the most popular day trips from the port.

    This 100-hectare (248 acre) park spans both banks of the Saugeen River as it passes though 100-foot high cliffs known as bluffs. Trails skirt through maple forests to the bluff edges giving visitors spectacular views of the river below.

    Even more spectacular views are available from on the water and canoeing through the bluffs is one of the most popular activities along the whole length of the Saugeen River canoe route.

    The conservation area features 200 campsites with 100 being serviced and they are available for both tents and trailer camping. It also has full facilities including showers, a store and canoe and kayak rentals.

    Especially beautiful during the fall the park is open from the end of April until Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.

    Each spring at the end of March the park also hosts the annual Maple Syrup Festival featuring:
    • animal rides
    • pancakes
    • maple syrup treats
    • demonstration on making maple syrup
    • live entertainment
    • vendors marketplace

    For more information on this years festival visit: Maple Syrup Festival.

    For more information on the Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area visit: Saugeen Bluffs


    Brucedale Conservation Area

    This small locally run park is located on 49 hectares (120 acres) of prime waterfront real estate. Located just a few kilometres south of MacGregor Point Provincial Park off highway #21 the park operates 52 campsites of which 46 are serviced.

    With public access to the Lake Huron shoreline you can witness some of the stunning sunsets for which the area is known.

    The park is available for both tent and trailer camping and offers full facilities including showers. For more information visit: Brucedale Conservation Area.


    Inverhuron Provincial Park

    Another small but very beautiful park it lays just 28 kilometres (17 miles) south of town. With several unique features including a nice sandy beach and a Lake Huron waterfront view of some spectacular sunsets, for more information visit my Inverhuron Provincial Park page.


    Pumpkinfest

    For almost 30 years, each October the town has hosted this event that features:
    • Rides
    • Games
    • Food
    • Entertainment
    • Classic Car Show
    • The Famous vegetable growing contest
    The festival obviously is geared toward the pumpkin and each year an award is handed out to the largest. On two occasions the winner has also broken the world's record, the last being in 2009 when a 761 kilogram (1674 lb) specimen was declared the winner.

    The festival continues to grow each year and has developed into one of the most anticipated events of the year. For more information visit: Pumpkinfest.


    Winter Activities

    Most of the town's trails are all-weather and are utilized for:
    • Cross country skiing
    • Snowshoeing
    They are also connected to trails that lead further into MacGregor Point Provincial park where winter camping is available and an outdoor skating loop is lit nightly.


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