Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Frost Centre - Lake St. Nora

Location: 15 km South of Dorset 
Website: Online Reservations 
Map: Google Maps
Camping Facilities: Backcountry Exclusively
Grade: D
Summary: A cottage-dense lake that is not worth the nightly camping fee
View from Put-In at Frost Centre
Thoughts: This was the site of one of my first backcountry camping experiences, and while there are some nice campsites on this lake, it is a cottager's lake, first and foremost.  Keep that in mind when you're considering booking here.  Expect everything that a cottage-dominated lake will generally provide: plenty of power boats, generators running at odd hours, raccoons, etc.  If that doesn't bother you, great.  If it does, it's hard to justify the rather high nightly camping fee ($13 pp).

View East from Site #10 on St. Nora
St. Nora Lake belongs to the old Leslie Frost Centre, which has been closed for nearly a decade.  At one point it was a training centre for professionals in fisheries and resource management.  Now, it's a jumping off point for canoeists and cottagers who want to enjoy this easily accessible alternative to the provincial parks.  It is currently operated by the municipality of Algonquin Highlands, which began charging for backcountry camping in the area in 2010.  On a positive note, the new reservation system is easy to use, includes pictures of each site and allows online bookings - Ontario Parks could learn something from this system.  However, the nightly fee is a huge deterrent, given that the area is neither rustic, nor particularly scenic.
View West from Site #10 on St. Nora

In three words: Don't camp here.

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