After our 8 night stay at Algonquin in July, we wanted to check off a few more parks and explore the province a bit, so we planned to visit Craigleith, Sauble Falls, and Pinery Provincial Parks. We ended up changing our plans and going back to MacGregor Point instead of to the Pinery. We wanted to enjoy the beach at the Pinery but the weather wasn’t cooperating, so we changed to MacGregor Point at the last minute. This change allowed us to get some hiking in at one of our favourite parks and save the Pinery for beach weather. It’s good to be flexible!
Craigleith Provincial Park is about 450km away from home for us, so we decided to leave on Friday night to get a good chunk of the driving out of the way. On Friday after work/daycare we rushed to get on the road by 5:30pm and we drove through some fairly severe thunderstorms. We later learned that a tornado was confirmed in Leamington! By the time we made it to our hotel room in Waterloo we were all exhausted and Kory and I went to bed along with the girls!
The next morning, we ate breakfast in the restaurant attached to the hotel. Lyssa, our toddler, was feeling extra rambunctious, perhaps because she had been confined to the car the previous evening. From Waterloo, we drove to Wasaga Beach, arriving just after noon. Wasaga is the longest freshwater beach in the world, stretching 14km! To me, it was a bit cool for beach weather at around 70 degrees F/21 degrees C and windy, but the beach was still fairly busy. We took a nice walk to feel the sand in our toes before enjoying lunch from one of the vendors along the beach.
After our beach stroll, we drove to Craigleith, about 33km away. Craigleith is a smaller Provincial Park, located just off the highway near Collingwood, Ontario, on the shore of Georgian Bay. We pulled our pop-up camper into our site (site 310) and began to set up. What a difference from Algonquin! The sites at Craigleith are quite open with little privacy, but at least all the sites are fairly close to the water. Our site did have a few White Pine and White Cedar trees on it. Once out of the car, the girls immediately set to work playing on the campsite. After our stay in Algonquin, they were used to playing outdoors and didn’t need any toys or entertainment to occupy them. It was wonderful to watch!
Em, our 4 year old, quickly declared that she loved this campground for its lack of mosquitoes and for the presence of a playground. As mentioned above, the sites at Craigleith are very open and on the small side. While we were setting up, our lovely camp neighbour came over to see if we needed any help or if we needed to borrow an extension cord. Kory chatted with the gentleman for a bit, and I realized that these moments are part of the reason that I want to camp across Ontario.
After a quick set up, we jumped back in the car and drove over to the Scenic Caves in Collingwood. We started with the suspension bridge! Wow! What a view off the escarpment! Em wasn’t so sure about the bridge (it moves quite a bit!) but bravely walked across. Lyssa, however, loved it and actually started to cry when I stepped off! She calmed down only when she realized we were going to take a tractor ride back up to the starting point. Oh, and Em enjoyed some ice cream, of course!
Following the suspension bridge adventure, we headed over to hike through the scenic caves. Em was uncertain at first, but ended up loving the entire hike. She loved exploring, even in the darkness, and climbed up and over slippery wet rocks like a pro! I was so proud!
Hiking through the caves is an awesome experience. The trail itself is easy, but the caves involve some more challenging hiking, and not all of them are appropriate for baby wearing (Lyssa was on my back in the Tula for this adventure). This is not a problem though because hikers can just stay on the trail and skip the cave if it proves too challenging.
We have wanted to visit the Scenic Caves Nature Adventures for several years now and it did not disappoint. After the cave adventure, we grabbed a quick bite to eat from the vendor there and the girls played on the awesome playground. We could have easily spent the whole day there. It is a beautiful place and there are many things to do.
Back at the campsite, we got the girls ready for bed. They fell asleep relatively easily after our busy day. I took a walk down to the water. Someone was playing guitar and a group of people gathered around chatting, singing and watching the sun set over Georgian Bay. Another magical camping moment.
The water level was quite high at Craigleith at the time of our visit (yes, that’s a picnic table in the water in the above photo). The shore is almost entirely rocky and there isn’t really a beach. The park is a great base camp however for exploring Wasaga beach and all the hiking trails along the Niagara Escarpment. Em had a great time looking at the rocks on the shoreline and both girls absolutely loved the old school playground.
Craigleith is a park that we likely never would have visited if we hadn’t set the goal of camping in as many of Ontario’s Provincial parks as possible. However, I kept an open mind and I must admit, we all thoroughly enjoyed our brief stay!