Friday, February 12, 2016

Review: Canoe-in Sites, Grundy Lake, Grundy Lake Provincial Park

grundy lake provincial park
Backcountry Site Map of Grundy Lake
 (From Park Tabloid, 2005)
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 each time visit.
Summary: Some very easy-to-access backcountry but some sites close to beaches & railroad, eliminating any sense of wilderness
Thoughts: A last-minute interior camping trip from Toronto in August can be a challenging thing to arrange. Joeperry? Full. Frontenac? Full. Killarney? Full. Canisbay? Full. However, there's always Grundy lake; the paddle-in sites are non-reservable (first come, first served basis), and there are often plenty of sites available (twice I've found sites in the middle of the peak season, even on a Labour Day weekend).

Site 119 on Grundy Lake
Like I said in my review for Gurd Lake, Grundy's sites have it all:  short paddles, easy access, some isolation, nice sites, and its reasonably quiet. I would say that Gurd offers a bit more privacy than Grundy, as we found that Grundy is shared with both "backcountry" campers and car campers. But the fishing must be great on Grundy, because there were so many people out exploring the lake by canoe and kayak. Not that it's all that bothersome, since they aren't motorboats. But yea, expect lots of traffic. After nightfall though, it's a different story. On site 119, I would say that you can easily convince yourself you're in Algonquin or some other less densely populated park. As long as you're as far away from the car camping sites as possible, you'll get some peace and quiet.

Peaceful night on Grundy Lake
I can honestly say that you're not going to do much better than Grundy if you want to get a pseudo backcountry site on a weekend where you haven't done any planning. It's a shorter drive from Toronto than most Algonquin access points, and you never need to make a reservation (you can't make a reservation!). So if you find yourself in need of a campsite with some sense of being in the woods, Grundy is a great option. And the park itself has an interpretive centre for the kids, and both Gut and Grundy Lakes attract rock jumpers to their steep, rocky shores. When I visited in August of 2015, there were some issues with bears (we saw a juevenille running through the car camping area, my first bear sighting in a provincial park after 15 years of camping), so be diligent with keeping your site odour free.

All things considered, it's your last, best option for a spontaneous camping weekend in peak season. And it's a pretty good one, all things considered.

Update: the sites are now reservable, so the spontaneity has been cut out of this option. You're probably going to have to book in advance.


  1. Hey again,
    I would go this site at the weekend, but almost all the sites are reserved:

    So something changed after 2015? because you've mentioned "and you never need to make a reservation (you can't make a reservation!)". It's only one unreservable backcountry spot in this park- far Pakeshkag Lake#5...

  2. Thanks for the update Vitaliy. That is sad news, but perhaps the park is looking for new ways to attract campers. If you can still reserve a site, I still recommend that you go (but of course you will still have to deal with trains and a generally busy campground). Regarding your other question, please email me at, and we can discuss it further.