Sunday, May 29, 2011

Review: Canoe-In sites, Gurd Lake, Grundy Lake Provincial Park

Location:  80 km N of Parry Sound
Website: Ontario Parks
Map: Google Maps
Camping Facilities: Car Camping with some pseudo backcountry
Grade: B-
Stargazing: Good, in fact we saw the Northern Lights from our site, but that was likely a freak occurrence.
Summary: Some very easy-to-access backcountry but some sites close to beaches & railroad, eliminating any sense of wilderness
grundy lake provincial park
Backcountry Site Map of Grundy Lake
 (From Park Tabloid, 2005)
Thoughts: My visit to Grundy Lake was an accident.  We'd booked a stay in the Massassauga Provincial Park a little south of here, but the winds were obscene.  Our group were not big on getting swamped and spending the remainder of our weekend drying off, so we hit the map books and found that Grundy Lake wasn't too far away.  We gave them a call, cause the paddle-in sites were non-reservable (first come, first served basis), and found out that there were still plenty of sites available (on labour day weekend, no less).

For pseudo-backcountry, Grundy's sites have it all:  short paddles, easy access, some isolation, nice sites, and its reasonably quiet.  We actually saw the northern lights on our first night.  Our group will exploit luxury when we can get it, so when we figured out that a vending machine and newspaper box were just a 500m paddle away, we took full advantage.  There's something about a cold Coke and a newspaper on a hot afternoon when you're sitting next to a lake listening to the wind in the pines.

I would imagine that if you're staying on Pakeshkag Lake, the level of seclusion would be on par with some of the larger backcountry parks in Ontario.  However, looking at the map above, you'll notice that the more secluded sites are generally closer to train tracks, which leads my discussion to the major issue with this park: the trains.  While they aren't that frequent, they're usually the long freight trains. So, in the wee hours of the morning, you'll hear them chugging along, often blowing their horns, and rumbling down the tracks for a few minutes at a time. I would be surprised if you don't wake up at least once during the night.  We stayed on Gurd lake, whose sites aren't even some of the closest to the tracks, and the sound of the trains brought to mind the realization that you aren't really in the backcountry, you're just faking it. 

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