Canadian Park Hound

Outdoor Trips & Tips With The Novice Bushwacker

Posts Tagged ‘day hikes

Georgian Bay Islands National Park, August 2015

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Well, this was a pleasant surprise. We were cottaging in Honey Harbour for the week and saw the Parks Canada office right across the street from the Town Center general store so, of course, I had to check it out. I had no idea that we were staying so close to a national park. I’d heard of Georgian Bay Islands National Park, but I wasn’t expecting to stumble into it during a cottage trip. There is a small Parks Canada kiosk sitting at the boat launch and we got some info on the Daytripper boat ferry schedule and planned a quick trip.

View from the Daytripper leaving Honey Harbour on the way to Georgian Bay Islands National Park.

For $15/per person, the Daytripper will take you into the park and come back to get you 4 hours later. As mentioned in a previous post, my partner is pregnant, so this was a perfect amount of time for us although, at any other time, 4 hours would feel like a mere “amuse-bouche”. Because of its popularity, the boat is often full, so reservations are highly recommended. You have your choice of several “ports of call” around the island, and we visited the central landing point of Cedar Spring. Here, you will find the Head Office and main campground. There are a few cabins for rent (about $150/night, 2 night minimum) and tent camping sites.

The view from a tent site just behind the main office. A bit too close for my comfort, but still… it’s well maintained and very close to the toilets if you have little ones.

Upon reaching the dock at Cedar Spring, you walk along the boardwalk to get to the main office. Along the way, you’ll pass by a few of the cabins, which are interspersed with tent sites. Personally, I recommend the sites elsewhere on the island since these cabins would have *a lot* of foot traffic passing in front of them all day long. If you choose to camp at Cedar Spring, be forewarned that you’ll have every boat load of the Daytripper walking right in front of you from 9:00 am – 5:30 pm. If you don’t care about that and want the convenience of a short walk with your bags, then… this is the place for you.

The start of the "Lookout Trail".

The start of the “Lookout Trail”.

Just behind the main office, you’ll find the trail junction where you can head off in a few directions. We chose to take the loop of the southern part of the island, over to Christian Beach, down to Beausoleil Point and back up to Cedar Spring. The park map isn’t great at offering info on the real distances, but I can tell you now, we ended up hiking for about 12 kms. Suffice it to say, I’m very impressed with the mother of my child! In my mind, a pregnant woman is the strongest creature in the world. The trail is relatively flat, so it wasn’t that challenging. It was a bit longer than we expected, but it was worth it! Beautiful scenery. The bugs got to be a bit much on the final stretch coming back up to Cedar Spring from Beausoleil Point, so stick to the outskirts of the park in warm weather if you want to avoid them.

FYI, the “lookout” on the Lookout Trail, is no longer a lookout now that the trees have matured. There’s still a wooden landing, but you’ll be staring into the forest. It’s a good connector trail to Christian Beach.

View from the Lookout Trail along the way to Christian Beach.

Christian Beach on the west side of the island.

An island just off the coast of the park.

There are a few cabins for rent on Christian Beach, and while they are still along the trail (meaning: you’ll see some foot traffic passing in front of you), it’s a more remote part of the island and therefore, more secluded. These cabins look quite new and well maintained. Each has a nice veranda. As I understand it, you have to arrange your own transportation there. I heard that water taxis cost about $60 each way.

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Beausoleil Point is a nice wide spot with a gazebo, several picnic tables, BBQ stands and a porta-potty.

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As you get back up towards Cedar Spring, you can take the Heritage Trail, a side trail that passes by a First Nations (Anishnaabe) cemetary and the site of a former settlement. One feature is a lovely flag stone walkway.DSCN0172

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Georgian Bay Islands National Park is a fantastic park. I really can’t wait to get back here to explore the rest of the island and spend a few nights. One of the crown jewels of our park system, for sure.

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Written by canadianparkhound

August 15, 2015 at 10:56 am

Nose Hill Park, Calgary AB, August 2012

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Calgary’s northwest end is home to one of the largest municipal parks in North America: Nose Hill Park. With just over 11 sq. km, you’ll find well maintained trails and many footpaths that you can follow for hours. Within, you can find over 300 km of trails to follow. The park is open to hikers and cyclists and there is a large “off leash” area for dogs to enjoy.

Nose Hill is an interesting feature on the outskirts of Calgary as it gives you the opportunity to take in a panoramic view of the city of Calgary to the south, the flatness of the beginning of the prairies to the east and the magnificent Rockies to the west. Essentially, it’s a foot hill that lies before the mountains, but in an otherwise flat area, it gives you the opportunity to climb a few hundred feet and get a bit of a bird’s eye view, if you don’t have the time/chance to get yourself into the mountains. It’s a perfect spot for day hikes tailored to whatever length you wish.

For my first trip in the park, I hiked a counter-clockwise loop around the bulk of the circumference. The distance was just under 9.5 km and it took about 2 hours. I started out at the parking lot by 14th & Berkley Gate and crossed over to the west side, and then headed due south with a view of the Rockies to my right.

The main trail is paved and wide enough for hikers, cyclists, joggers, dog owners to move in both directions, with plenty of informal footpaths and bike trails for you to explore throughout. The peak itself is a large flat plateau of grassland. Beautiful.

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When you reach the south end of the peak, you’ll get a great view of downtown Calgary.Image

Turning back north, along the eastern edge of the park, you can opt for the footpaths that take you through more hills, or stay on the easier main trail. I took the footpaths and stayed on the edge of the park, enjoying the view on my way back to the car.

I love it when a city or town has a park within its limits that have hikes that can offer, a) privacy and, b) a multi-hour hike. My basic criteria for a good hike is one where I need my hydration pack and a snack. Nose Hill fits the bill. If you’re ever in Calgary, I would highly recommend taking a few hours out of your day to visit this fantastic municipal park.

Written by canadianparkhound

August 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm