Last week, our family displayed acute symptoms of camping withdrawal disorder: desire to sleep on the hard ground, cravings for slightly burned food prepared over a campfire, constant attempts to block out the noisy city to hear the birds. With the next camping trip two whole weeks away, we knew we couldn’t last that long. We needed our camping fix now. So on Friday night we threw our gear into the back of our car and headed to Killbear.
Located on the shores of Georgian Bay just north of Parry Sound, Killbear Provincial Park is only two and a half hours away from Toronto, a perfect destination for a spontaneous weekend getaway. We camped there many times before but it has been a few years since our last trip so we thought we were due for a return visit.
September is a great time to go camping. School, tight schedules and the arrival of fall take care of the usual summer crowds so there are more campsites available (even at the last minute, an almost miraculous occurrence in the summer) and fewer people milling around. Add amazing weather and splashes of early fall foliage peeking through the green and you have a perfect camping trip.
We got a great campsite at the Harold Point campground with lots of space and the blue waters of Georgian Bay visible through the trees. Most of the sites at Harold Point were filled but the Georgian campground right next to it was already closed for the season. So we had no “backyard” neighbours, except for scores of energetic chipmunks chasing each others through the grass and blue jays swooping through the trees. Neither agreed to stay still long enough to be photographed.
We also had regular visits from a couple of does who were more than willing to pose for a picture.
And one morning, we managed to capture (on camera, not literary, of course) a yellow-shafted flicker. These birds have beautiful yellow underwings (hence the name) but this little guy refused to demonstrate them for us.
A picturesque rocky shoreline with its signature wind-swept pines is our favourite part about Killbear so on Saturday we decided to take a hike along the shore all the way to the Lighthouse.
Some of the trees started to change colours, with red, yellow and orange breaking up the green and blue monopoly of the landscape.
Killbear’s rocks with their intricate lines and elaborate layers never cease to amaze me, a remarkable combination of history and music carved into stone.
During our hike we met two snakes, luckily neither was a massassauga rattle snake. We also stopped at the Visitor Centre right in time for a snake demonstration. After holding one in his hands, our son declared he wanted a pet snake. Hope that desire will pass.
After checking out the lighthouse (some of us even managed to squeeze in a bit of nap), we headed back.
This time we decided to take the Recreation Trail since it was shorter and faster. With visions of veggie burgers and ramen noodles in our head, shorter and faster was what we wanted. There was more fall foliage visible along the trail, and with sun sipping through the trees, the forest looked like it was glowing.
We met a cute little porcupine along the way. He eyed us suspiciously, then slowly climbed up a tree, settled comfortably between the branches and proceeded with munching on green leaves.
Evening brought a beautiful sunset and some much needed campfire time.
Leaving on Sunday morning required a lot of willpower. The upcoming Thanksgiving camping trip and a promise of fish and chips on our way home were the only things that made the whole packing process bearable.
We stopped at Henry’s Fish Restaurant in Midland for our traditional post-camping fish and chips lunch. Delicious food, beautiful decor and scenic location at Wye Heritage Marina – we will definitely be coming back!
For a list of other great parks to visit in the fall, check out my article on Parks Blogger Ontario.