GRUNDY LAKE & THE FRENCH RIVER

After touring the Bruce Peninsula, we commenced the second portion of our Ontario adventure heading northwest around Georgian Bay.  To catch our breath and recoup we booked a spot for a couple days at Grundy Lake Provincial Park. Known for its fishing it was a fine park to stay at. We did not take advantage of the waterfront or trail systems therefore cannot comment on that, but there seemed to be quite a bit to enjoy and was a very family-oriented park. For us campsites allow us to be stationary for a couple days without driving and trying to find a spot. We can really set up ‘camp’ with our kitchen tent and our tarp covering with chairs, enjoy prepping food and cooking over a fire with room and privacy to appreciate the outdoors. A lot of times our free spots for the night are parking lots where you must be a bit more lowkey, cooking and cleaning up within our van, and that is challenging. Actual campsites permit us to refresh, do laundry, clean out the van, set up an ‘office’ and get prepared for the next leg of the journey. Free camping, or ‘boondocking’ gets easier and easier as you head north in Ontario where there is a lot more crown land. You can camp for free as a Canadian citizen on crown land for up to 21 days. 

Following our sojourn at Grundy Lake we headed to the French River which has been on Greg’s bucket list to fish for bass. We found an amazing free camping site along the river with a fire pit, easy road access, and incredible views. We usually use apps to help us navigate where we can camp, but we stumbled upon this gem ourselves. We were also close to Bear’s Den Lodge where Greg got the chance to rent a boat to try his hand at fishing the French River. However, this amazing opportunity did not go to plan. Overwhelmed by the intensity of the river systems, mapping out a route not knowing the area, Greg hit a stump and wrecked the propeller of the boat. To add insult to injury it was early on in the day and he only managed to wrangle a couple fish before he had to return the damaged boat to the lodge and figure out what it was going to cost him. Luckily, the people of Bear’s Den Lodge were understanding, and the propeller was not critically damaged. It was quite the day regardless and Greg returned to our camp spot feeling disheartened. Ego may be bruised but thanks to Drake and his new song (if you know, you know), he has a warrior spirit, and with his passion for fishing this incident did not keep him down for long.

Our free camp spot on the French River

MANITOULIN ISLAND

The draw of the Manitoulin Islands has long been felt by Lauren. Rich with Indigenous history and surrounded by Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, it was a beautiful and scenic experience. We stayed on crown land near Little Current and it is one of our more favourite free camping locations so far. We parked right near the water where we had a lot of space, and views of the lake. Unfortunately, the weather was not in our favour, so we did not do as much on the Island as we had wanted. The highlight was our hike along the Cup and Saucer trail. A moderately challenging hike that takes you through forest and up along rock formations and leads you to epic lookouts on the edges of death-defying cliffs. A storm was rolling in and it was windy, but we managed to make it back down before the rain hit. We would have loved to explore more but we had lingered in and around the area waiting on the weather too long and had to move on.

Greg at a lookout along the Cup and Saucer Trail
‘Gum Tree’ on the trail
Lauren on the edge watching a storm roll in

LAKE SUPERIOR & WAWA

The following couple of days were long drives of breathtaking beauty along Lake Superior. Twists and turns dotted with trees, rock fringed rivers, and the shimmering waters of Lake Superior for hours on end. We parked for the night at a public beach in Wawa. The town itself has truly little, you visit for the scenery. We have never stayed in a prettier parking lot. The water was so clear with green forested peaks in the distance, and it was so quiet and still in the evening. Northern Ontario has so many untouched panoramas, just driving through was a luxury. 

After a short foray in Thunder Bay we headed to Quetico Provincial Park where we had a campsite booked near the water. Quetico is known for fishing, and canoeing with a variety of backcountry camping options. The park was not busy midweek while we were there, so we had a lot of privacy and loved walking the trails that edged around the shoreline. Abbey was chipmunk obsessed to an unreal degree, as her little friends were everywhere. Again, we used Quetico to relax and get ourselves reorganized.

Public beach in Wawa where we spent the night
Toes in the sand on Lake Superior

SIOUX NARROWS, LAKE OF THE WOODS & KENORA

Our last days in Ontario were spent among the secluded, pristine waters of Lake of the Woods. Greg chanced another fishing excursion with Crawford’s Camp. They were incredibly helpful and pleasant, and rented Greg a well-equipped boat to explore the vast lake. This time around all ends well with Greg having a sunny day on the water and catching a plethora of fish. Crawford’s Camp also recommended that we stay at Sioux Narrows Provincial Park for an evening, and we managed to book a site directly on the water. This park is fairly remote and has odd hours, closing at 4pm Monday through Wednesday, however it was stunningly picturesque. Our site (we suggest booking site 16 or 17) was private and you could get right onto the lake. Eating dinner with those views was unforgettable.  

We were told that in Kenora you had to try Lake of the Woods Brewing Co. Excited after a busy day to sit on their patio, quaff some pints, try their menu, and take a break from cooking. Unfortunately, Abbey was not allowed on their patio so our ‘date night’ came to an abrupt halt. We salvaged the evening, however, still buying a selection of their beer and finding an amazing lakefront food truck serving up some delicious wood-fired pizza. It was our last night in Ontario well spent. We planned to cross the border into Manitoba in the morning and head out for western Canada. 

Our site at the Sioux Narrows Provincial Park
Into the woods

JOURNEY ON…

Continue to follow our journey as we cross through Manitoba, Saskatchewan and tour around Alberta and B.C. We also want to thank our friends and family for the outpouring of love and support we have received. Your comments and encouragement have been so appreciated. 

—Greg&Lauren&Abbey