Canadian Park Hound

Outdoor Trips & Tips With The Novice Bushwacker

Sandbanks Provincial Park, September 2011

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Editor’s note: unfortunately, we lost our pictures of this trip. The photos used in this blog post are taken from a Google images search of “Sandbanks Provincial Park”.

Some weekends, you just need to get out of the city. For us, ‘some weekends’ = ‘many weekends’. However, it isn’t always feasible to put life on hold to the extent that is required for a backwoods experience in a place like Algonquin and, depending on the season, it isn’t always worth it (read: bugs). Sandbanks Provincial Park is the perfect park for getting to a beautiful beach with warm, clean water. Sure, the park is usually crowded, but it’s still the best Provincial Park getaway in Southern Ontario within decent driving distance of the GTA.

Beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park

Even though it was September and a week after Labour Day, the park was pretty full. We drove around the campground and were able to snag a good campsite that was private. It was set in from the road and had good tree coverage. Many of the sites in the loops are completely exposed and better for families or large groups. Every single site that abutted the beach was taken, primarily by truck campers and trailers.

Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of “car camping”. With the exception of our “Gaspé to New Brunswick” week long journey, we avoid car camping in favour of getting into the woods. That said, my girlfriend and I have been on the hunt for the best swimming hole within a few hours of Toronto. So far, Sandbanks is the only park where we’re willing to brave the crowds and noise to spend an evening.

Dune at Sandbanks

As soon as we set up our site, we went and lounged on the Dunes Beach at West Lake and swam until dinner time. Considering how busy the park was, we were happy to see that the beach wasn’t totally packed. The water here is warm and clean. It’s quite shallow for the first few hundred meters, making it very family friendly and ideal for frisbee-throwing.

After dinner, we headed for a sunset drive around the park and checked out the beach that is directly on Lake Ontario. The water here is more rough, not being protected by land the same way that West Lake is. Still gorgeous and great for strong swimmers.

The next day, we packed up our site and headed for the easy hike along the Cedar Sands Trail. There are many interpretive signs along the way describing the habitat and history of the Sandbanks.

We had a good dose of the beach and, as the clouds started to roll in, my girlfriend went into Lake Ontario for one more wrestle with the waves.

Beach at Sandbanks – Lake Ontario

If you’re looking for a great, quick getaway – this is it. Look no further. The only park (in my estimation), that comes close would be, Long Point Provincial Park (similar beach, although the water is better in Sandbanks).

Sandbanks Provincial Park:

Pros: swimming, beaches

Cons: heavily populated

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Written by canadianparkhound

December 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm

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