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Saturday, May 16, 2015

People, pets, wildflowers and wildlife return to Ontario Parks



   One-Tank Trip for May 16/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   With the rapid ascent into summer-like weather and the trend for “staycations,” this promises to be a big year at Ontario Parks.
   The trilliums have burst into bloom in the parks and campers have returned after a long, cold winter.
   “Our booking reservations are seven percent ahead of where we were this time last year – and that was a banner year for us,” said the parks’ Andrew Chambers.
Fields of trilliums are in bloom now in Ontario Parks. (Jim Fox photo)
   Even so, ‎”there are still campsites available” throughout the provincial park system, he added.

   Go camping, eh
   With the launch of the first annual Canadian Camping Week from May 19 to 24, Ontario Parks will join with others nationally to urge people to “get out camping this spring.”
   The Canadian Camping and RV Council, along with campgrounds across Canada and their partners, offer “plenty of special events” to mark the week.

   Campground associations in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, representing about 1,400 campgrounds, as well as Parks Canada, camping and recreational vehicle associations are involved.
   There will be special events and promotions such as discounted weekend camping rates, bonfires and offers such as free firewood and an hour of canoeing. Details at campingweek.ca

Campers are returning to Ontario Parks where reservations for campsites are ahead of last year’s brisk pace. (Barbara Fox photo)
   Cool retreats, adventures
   New at Ontario Parks are roofed accommodations including Quetico Provincial Park’s refurbished log cabin.
   The four-season cabin provides an escape to one of Ontario’s most pristine parks, west of Thunder Bay.
   Coming soon is a retro-fit cabin at Presqu’ile park in Brighton, east of Toronto.
   From there are views of Lake Ontario and it’s near the historic lighthouse on a major migratory bird route.
   Fushimi park near Hearst has a newly built cabin that sleeps five where there’s a “superb” Ontario wild fishery for walleye, northern pike and yellow perch.
   Samuel de Champlain park near Mattawa will be marking the 400th anniversary of the explorer’s river travels in Huronia.
   The park’s Voyageur Adventure Tour gets visitors out on the water to try paddling a voyageur canoe in July and August.
   French River park’s Visitor Centre overlooks where Champlain would have paddled into Georgian Bay and its Voices of the River exhibit tells of the explorations.
   Follow in the footsteps of the Group of Seven painters with open-air art lessons at Killarney park on the Georgian Bay coast.
   The area has long captivated creative people and an Artist in Residence program is offered in July and August.

Casting for fish on the long dock at Bass Lake Provincial Park. (Jim Fox photo)
   Fear not newbies
   If you’ve never pitched a tent, built a campfire, heard the call of a loon or tasted the gooey sweetness of a S’more under the stars, there’s a program for you.
   Ontario Parks offers the Learn to Camp program to show how to set up a tent, make a campfire and cook on a camp stove.
   Fear not as staff members will be there to show and tell and even spend the night.
   There’s also the Learn to Fish program telling how to land that big or small one, and how to rig, bait and cast a rod.
   It’s offered and included in the Learn to Camp program at Darlington; Earl Rowe; Emily; Grundy Lake; Sibbald Point; and Six Mile Lake provincial parks.
   On the water, it’s safety first and 67 parks have the free PARKsmart Lifejacket Lending Program.
   If you don’t want to miss out on camping at your favourite park, it’s best to reserve a site in advance online at ontarioparks.com/reservations or call 1-888-ONT-PARK (668-7275).

   Park that car
   For anyone without a car or not wanting to drive, Parkbus has been offering express service to provincial and national parks across Ontario for the past five years.
The Parkbus initiative offers rides to and from provincial and national parks.
   Leaving from Toronto and returning there (with connections by Via Rail, Go or buses from out of town), the initiative has connected with parks such as Algonquin, Killarney, Bruce Peninsula and others.
   Parkbus is offering a new pilot service to day-trip destinations for anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors if only for a quick getaway, said Boris Issaev, project manager.
   These will include parks and conservation areas within an hour or two outside Toronto such as Elora Gorge, Albion Hills and Rattlesnake Point. Details: parkbus.ca; 1-800-928-7101

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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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