Camping in Restoule Provincial Park: Fall and the Beauty of Change

I zoom in on a lonely red leaf tucked in between bare branches. Not ready to let go of the tree that has been its home for the past several months, it is basking in the sun, blushing under its fiery gaze. Eventually, it will get whisked away by the wind and twirl its way onto the ground, adding its warmth to an already thick blanket. Or it will zigzag through the air and end up on the steely surface of the lake below, a tiny red boat gliding into winter. I wish good luck to a brave little traveller and continue on my way.

lone red leaf on a branch

It is hard to escape thoughts of change when the world around has been transformed beyond recognition under the fall`s painting brush. So Thanksgiving weekend camping trip inevitably turns into a meditation about the excitement of change and the fear of letting go.

creek in Restoule Provincial Park

This year, we chose Restoule Provincial Park as a site for our October reflections. Located just south of North Bay, this northern park suits perfectly the definition of a `hidden gem.` It is often overlooked by campers even though the park offers a wide range of outdoor activities and boasts some amazing movie-worthy scenery (Restoule was, in fact, one of the filming locations for Backcountry, a Canadian thriller about a fatal bear encounter). Smaller crowds and the park’s location away from major highways have their benefits: the only sounds we heard during our stay were the calls of birds and the rustling of leaves.

We arrived in Restoule on Friday night. It was the first time we booked a non-electrical campsite for our Thanksgiving weekend camping trip. Usually, we opt for electricity in case it gets cold and we need to use a heater. With the temperature hovering around zero on the first night, I started questioning the soundness of that idea. Turned out I didn`t have to worry. With extra layers, we were warm and cozy inside our unheated tent. When I got outside on Saturday morning, I could see why staying at a non-electrical campground was a great decision: there were no other tents or people in sight. The campground did fill up a bit by the end of the day but even then no more than ten sites were occupied.

fall in Restoule Provincial Park   campsite in Restoule Provincial Park

The first morning of the camping trip is one of my favourite moments, even more so in the fall when the tent door opens into the golden magic of the forest. After a walk around the campground and along the lake, I woke up my husband who is always in charge of coffee on our camping trips.

Restoule Lake

With coffee in our bloodstreams and breakfast in our bellies, we decided to tackle the Fire Tower Trail. Seven kilometres long, it is the longest in Restoule (apart from Gibs, an undeveloped backcountry trail that leads out of the park into the adjacent crown land). After a short stretch through evenly spaced red pines, the Fire Tower Trail winds through a mixed forest all the way to the top of Stormy Lake Bluffs, picturesque Amber Lake and a historic fire tower that gave the trail its name.

Fire Tower Trail in Restoule Provincial Park

Fire Tower Trail in Restoule Provincial Park   Fire Tower Trail in Restoule Provincial Park

Fire Tower Trail in Restoule Provincial Park   Fire Tower Trail in Restoule Provincial Park

Fire Tower Trail in Restoule Provincial Park   Fire Tower Trail in Restoule Provincial Park

view from Stormy Lake Bluffs in Restoule Provincial Park

Fire Tower in Restoule Provincial Park   Fire Tower in Restoule Provincial Park

Amber Lake on Fire Tower Trail in Restoule

And while the views of the lakes and woods were truly majestic, small details along the way were equally fascinating: a toad pushing its way through the leaves, bright orange mushrooms nestled in the groove of a moss-covered stump, glowing fall foliage…

Amber Lake on Fire Tower Trail in Restoule

red maple leaf   red grape leaves on a pine

mushrooms on a stump     mushrooms on a tree trunk

toad hiding in the fallen leaves   toad on fallen leaves

fall foliage

Sunday was a day of biking.

Rangers Point Trail in Restoule Provincial Park   Angels Point Trail in Restoule

biking in Restoule in the fall   biking in Restoule in the fall

Restoule has a couple of mountain biking trails: Rangers Point and Angels Point. Rangers Point is only one kilometre long and offers great views of Stormy Lake and the Bluffs.

view of Stormy Lake from Ragers Point Trail

Stormy Lake Bluffs in Restoule Provincial Park

Stormy Lake in Restoule in the fall

Stormy Lake in Restoule Provincial Park

Angels Point has two loops with several access points to Restoule Lake.

Restoule Lake in the fall

fall in Restoule Provincial Park

biking in Restoule provincial park

Once we were done with the bike trails, we just rode around the Putts Point and Bells Point Campgrounds, enjoying an unusually warm October day, the glowing forest and the crunching of leaves under our tires.

fall foliage in Restoule

Restoule Lake in the fall   Restoule Lake in the fall

Apart from hiking and biking, there were also delicious meals, blazing campfires, and sizzling conversations. We played the guitar, flew a kite, read books, marvelled at the autumn foliage and simply took time to relax and slow down.

reading in a hammock     campsite in Restoule Provincial Park

enjoying the view of Stormy Lake from Ragers Point Trail

flying a kite in Restoule Provincial Park   flying a kite in Restoule Provincial Park

view from Stormy Lake Bluffs in Restoule Provincial Park

view of fall foliage from the tent

On our last day, I woke up early. The forest was wrapped in predawn quietness, only occasionally disrupted by the call of a loon. I knew that in a couple of hours we would have to start packing to head back home. I pushed that thought away, grabbed the camera and made my way to the lake. For the time-being, it was just me and the soft breath of fall.

The sun was about to rise. I could already see its fiery light pushing out the darkness of the night. I watched the golden orb peek above the horizon, balance over tree tops, and spill its light into the lake and the surrounding forest. Bathed in the early sunlight, trees were an explosion of colours. I breathed in the morning air and gave thanks for the magic of fall and the beauty of change. After all, it was Thanksgiving.

sunrise over Restoule Lake

sunrise over Restoule Lake

fall foliage in Restoule Provincial Park     early fall morning on Restoule Lake

Restoule Provincial Park is now closed for the season but there are other great places to enjoy fall colours in Ontario. Check out my article on Parks Blogger Ontario for some recommendations and don’t forget to visit the Ontario Parks website for operation dates and the fall colours report.

Finally, for our post-camping fish and chips we stopped at Crow’s Nest Restaurant in Restoule. The food was good, even if a little undersalted, and a spacious patio was a great place to enjoy it on a beautiful October day.

9 thoughts on “Camping in Restoule Provincial Park: Fall and the Beauty of Change

    • Thank you! Yes, it was our first time camping in an organized campground with so few people around. We camped in Restoule once before during a Labour Day Weekend a few years ago, and while there were more people around, still not all sites were filled. Looks like not many people go to Restoule, which is strange because the park is fantastic!


  1. Stunning photos and a beautiful description of nature on your walks. I love all the little discoveries as well as the beautiful views as well. I also enjoy that wonderful first morning of waking up in tent and there is silence apart from the sounds of nature. It’s so calming and also invigorating at the same time. On looking at those forests with tall straight trees that all look the same I can imagine it would easy to get lost if you went of the trails? And what a perfect way to finish…fish and chips! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jane! It was an amazing trip. Fall is a great time to go camping here in Canada. It is a bit chilly sometimes but so beautiful with all the changing colours. Hope to squeeze in another camping trip soon before all the leaves are gone.
      Yes, those pines do look very similar and all planted in neat rows , which can be disorienting. But it is also a pretty open space. So even if you go off the trail, you can still see how to get out.
      We love fish and chips and always finish our camping trips with a fish ad chips lunch. By now we have a few favourite spots around Ontario but once in a while we will try something new.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Best Camping Moments of 2015 | Gone Camping

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