Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review: Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park

Location: near Mattawa, ON
Website: Ontario Parks
Map: Google or Google Maps
Camping Facilities: Car camping, with backcountry camping just outside the park on the Mattawa River
Grade: C-
Stargazing: Probably pretty good, if you can find a decent viewpoint.
Summary: Very little privacy, densely packed sites, poor enforcement of regulations, some good hiking
Thoughts: We stayed at site 167, which was a decent site, relatively close to a water tap, the beach and an outhouse (with flush toilets, and really clean...and it wasn't a comfort station either).  That's about all the good that can be said about the site.  I feel that the only way you might really appreciate this park is if you've never seen a forest up close before.  Otherwise, it's a typical car camping experience with sites that are pretty close together, and in full view of one another. There were plenty of folks being obnoxiously loud after quiet hours (using radios, general drunken behaviour), so it gave me the impression that even on a Victoria Day weekend, staff didn't really care to enforce park regulations.  I don't recommend this park for camping, and it doesn't have much in the way of scenery either. The better way to go is the Mattawa River canoe route, which is, from what I've heard, more scenic and less "blargh" in general.

Hikes: The Etienne "Geology" hiking trail is pretty nice. Nice enough to make a trip specifically to this park?  I vote "nay".  The loop that you do probably doesn't matter other than length of time you want to spend, there's no interpretive component so the names of the trails don't mean too much. Ours had three decent lookouts, two earlier on and one about 3/4 of the way through the hike (counterclockwise direction).  Bring your bugspray. 

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