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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dog-gone great fun for pets at Ontario Parks

   One-Tank Trip for Aug. 9/14

   By Jim Fox

   A vacation in the great outdoors often isn’t as enjoyable unless the whole family can go – and that includes “Fido.”
   All of Ontario’s 334 provincial parks are “pet-friendly,” while some of them cater to camping with the four-legged family members.
One-Tank Trip writer Jim Fox with Cisco and Raven at dog-friendly Bass Lake Provincial Park near Orillia. (Barbara Fox photo)
   These are the some 30 parks with designated pet exercise areas and pet beaches, or both, said Lori Waldbrook of Ontario Parks.

   Some dog-gone great parks
   - Rock Point Provincial Park. On the north shore of Lake Erie, this is about an hour’s drive to Niagara Falls and is excellent for car campers and RV travellers.
Dogs wanna have fun, too (Ontario Parks photo)
   One of its three beaches was once part of an ancient coral reef, with one of them designated pet-friendly with an exercise area.
   - Wasaga Beach Provincial Park. This is Lake Huron’s famous beach with the longest freshwater stretch of sand in the world.
   This day-use park with a safe shoreline includes the eastern part of Beach 3 that is currently a popular dog-friendly area.
Cooling off at Bass Lake Provincial Park. (Jim Fox photo)
   - Mikisew Provincial Park. Called a “little gem of a park” on Eagle Lake off Highway 11 near South River, there are three beaches with shallow water good for swimming.
   The pet-designated beach, exercise area and obstacle course are said to be “really nice and not heavily used since this park remains a best-kept secret.”
   - Bon Echo Provincial Park. Located north of Napanee, the Group of Seven artists liked it there and so will your dog.
   Four-legged campers enjoy the 1.4-kilometre off-leash exercise trail and the pet-friendly beach with its sandy bottom, all on Lower Mazinaw Lake.
   - Restoule Provincial Park. Get away from it all southwest of North Bay with an excellent pet-friendly beach, exercise area and great hiking trails.
   Stormy Lake Cliff and its fire tower are favourite hiking destinations while the closest sites to the pet amenities are in the Bell Point campground.
   - Halfway Lake Provincial Park. Author Kevin Callan, the “Happy Camper,” and springer spaniel Bailey love it here with spacious campsites, making them perfect for dogs and their owners.
   There are great hiking trails, a beach with a separate dog-walking area and visitors can paddle to nearby smaller lakes for a quick overnight trip with their dog.
   - Blue Lake Provincial Park. This is a great camping choice for travellers on Highway 17, the Trans-Canada Highway, east of Kenora.
   There’s swimming at the park’s long sandy beach, excellent hiking, a Natural Heritage Education program and off-leash designated pet exercise and swimming areas.

Numerous Ontario Parks have hiking trails suitable for leashed dogs and pet-friendly beaches. (Jim Fox photo)
   Pet/owner obedience
   All parks require pet owners to follow a basic set of guidelines, Waldbrook said.
   This includes keeping dogs on a leash not exceeding two metres long and ensuring they don’t make excessive noise or disturb others.
   Dogs are not allowed in park buildings, including roofed accommodations, or on main beach areas and they must not chase or harass wildlife.
   For those who prefer to camp without pets or those of others, Awenda, Balsam Lake, the Pinery, Voyageur and Algonquin parks have designated pet-free campgrounds.
   To learn more about pet-amenity Ontario Parks: parkreports.com/parksblog/?p=6358#more-6358; and ontarioparks.com

   Raven and Cisco check out the fishing dock at Bass Lake Provincial Park. (Barbara Fox photo)
   Canine approved
   Room service for your pet?
   That’s the life while on vacation and a U.S. company called Dog Friendly has the definitive online guide to travels with your pooch and welcoming destinations.
   The travel guide lists 200 pet-friendly hotels, off-leash parks, campgrounds, beaches, restaurants, patio dining and museums throughout Canada, the U.S. and the world.
   There are guides to each province and territory along with detailed information on basically every city.
   It lists many major hotel chains offering pet-friendly accommodations along with those with such things as pet-sitting services, welcome baskets, dog beds, doggy room service and wake-up calls.
   Along with its web-based resources, Dog Friendly also has printed guidebooks, e-books and offers a free newsletter. Details at: DogFriendly.com; 1-888-281-5170

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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