Camping at Pinery Provincial Park during the Labour Day Weekend has now become a tradition. This beautiful park with its endless sand dunes and inviting waters of Lake Huron is an excellent place to cap off the adventure-filled camping season. This year was no different. With firm support from weather gods, we spent the last few school-free days trying to wring every last drop of the fleeting summer out of the unusually hot September weekend.
Instead of writing a trip report, though, I decided to put together a list of things we love most about Pinery.
Pinery is home to a unique habitat called Oak Savanna. This rare and fragile ecosystem is a transition zone between prairie grasslands and oak forests. Pinery now protects almost 50% of the world’s Oak Savanna since, unfortunately, most of this important ecosystem has now been destroyed or changed. (Source: The Friends of Pinery Park Website). Stop by the Visitor Centre or hike one of the park’s many trails to learn more about Pinery’s natural environment.
Savanna Bike Trail
Biking the 14 kilometres of Savanna Trail is a must when visiting Pinery. No bike? No problem! You can always rent one in the park. We always end this pleasant ride through the forest and then along the Old Ausable Channel with ice-cream, which brings me to my next point.
Ice-cream is a summer staple, and the ice-cream sold at Pinery is delicious, especially on a hot day after a long bike ride.
Old Ausable Channel
Picturesque Old Ausable Channel is a great place to go for a paddle. Canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards, paddleboats, and hydro bikes are available for rent in the park. It is also a great place for spotting wildlife. If you are lucky, you may even get to meet a snapping turtle or two.
After years of camping at Pinery, we still can’t get enough of those rolling sand hills as far as the eye can see, the feel of sand between our toes, the sensation of calm as we descend between the dunes, and then the blue strip of Lake Huron emerging beyond the rippling grasses and towering poplars.
Pinery beach is our favourite in Ontario. Over ten kilometres long, it’s perfect for relaxing, soaking up some Vitamin D, walking, and of course, digging. This year, the beach was more rocky than usual. Once we discovered that a lot of those rocks contained fossils, looking for those remnants of the past became one of our favourite pastime.
Beautiful in any weather, Lake Huron with its warm and shallow waters provides endless hours of fun for kids and adults alike.
Pinery is famous for its sunsets. In fact, they were ranked among the “Top 10 Best in the World” by National Geographic. Quite a recommendation! Crowds gather on the beach every evening to witness and record that moment when the sun sinks into the golden waters of Lake Huron. My favourite time of the day!
The most memorable moment of this trip will probably be a night walk to the beach to see the stars. As adults huddled on the driftwood logs, kids simply lay on the sand, watching the sparkling sky, marvelling at the extent of our universe, discussing the possibilities of resettling to other planets, and squealing with delight at the sight of every shooting star.
The air at Pinery is unlike anywhere else. It’s filled with the sounds of cicadas during the day and crickets at night. It smells of summer and pleasant idleness. It awakens a child and a dreamer in all of us.
Even though the summer is over, it’s still not too late to visit Pinery. The park is open year round. Take advantage of September’s warm weather and smaller crowds. Or come back in the winter for some of the best cross-country skiing in Southwestern Ontario.
To learn more about Pinery Provincial Park and book a site, visit the Ontario Parks website.
To see more pictures and read about our past Pinery adventures, read my previous posts: