We were gifted with an unexpected free weekend when a coworker offered to take my shifts. With summer quickly winding down we decided to try and find a campsite somewhere nearby. Of course, everything was booked solid, but Kory kept checking and happened upon a site at Pinery – one of our favourite parks! This summer, we took an epic family vacation to the Yukon and Northwest Territories, including a trip to the Arctic Ocean. The trip was absolutely incredible, but we were certainly missing out on beach time, so we were thrilled to get a site at Pinery!
On Friday after work, we quickly packed the girls and all our gear into the car and grabbed food – on the road by 5:30pm – quite possibly a new record for us! The drive was uneventful and we were excited to pass by not one, but two new Tim Hortons on the way to Pinery. Our drive consists largely of county roads where rest stops with food and bathrooms are non existent, which can be challenging with little ones.
We made great time and I remarked to Kory how much faster travel is now that the girls are just a little bit older! The heat wave had broken and we arrived to a cool evening. We set up the trailer as quickly as possible and tried to get our excited girls to sleep, all bundled up in cozy pjs and sleeping bags. We have a small battery powered white noise machine that I find very helpful when travelling. Although all our camping neighbours were respectful and quiet, the white noise definitely helps the girls relax and fall asleep.
We awoke to a cool morning, so we decided to do a short hike and visit the Visitor Centre. A quick stop at the Park store was also in order because I forgot my coffee! While at the store, we finally got our hands on our Ontario Parks Passport and our first sticker and patch!
After exploring the Visitor Centre, where we love watching the turtles and bird feeders, we headed over to the Lookout trail for a short 1km hike. The girls did a great job on all the stairs – though Lyssa did enjoy a few minutes in the Toddler Tula baby carrier. I love that she will still (occasionally) go on my back for hikes.
The day was warming up so we dragged ourselves away from the beautiful trail to go back to the campsite for lunch and to get ready for the beach! We drove over to Parking Area 9 and hit the beach! While we were warm at our nice protected campsite, the beach was a different story. It was quite windy and wavy – and a bit chilly! Our 6 year old had a great time swimming and playing, but the wind and waves were a bit too much for our 3 year old. She still had fun playing on the beach though (while mama stayed bundled up in towels, lol). I did eventually go swimming with Em after a run on the beach to warm up. We had a great time wave jumping!
Back at the campsite, the girls played around while we got ready for dinner.
Our site, 631, was in a lovely red oak forest. It was a pull through site, but the roads only led to a handful of sites so we didn’t need to worry much about car traffic with our young kids. The bathroom was super close too, but far enough away not to be bothersome. The girls wanted to play frisbee and catch constantly, and we did, but things did repeatedly land in poison ivy… There is so much poison ivy at our southern parks! After dinner, went back over the the Park Store area for ice cream, which we enjoyed on the dock overlooking the Old Ausable Channel.
We all slept well and woke up to a warmer morning on Sunday. We ate breakfast, obtained coffee for mama, and drove over to the Hickory trail for a naturalist-guided hike. Unfortunately, the weather had been quite dry and the naturalist didn’t find any salamanders, snakes or frogs, but we did learn a lot about the amphibians in the park. One fact that sticks out is that Bull frogs have were extirpated from Pinery many years ago!
Back at the campsite, the girls played around and explored, finding several caterpillars. Em brought our old camera along on our hikes and also used it around the campsite. It’s a great way to keep her interested and engaged on hikes. I love that she grabbed it to take a picture of a caterpillar!
We followed the same pattern as Saturday – hike – lunch – beach. Back at parking area 9, the water was calm and the sun was warm – a perfect beach day! We all had a blast and it was incredibly difficult to leave for the drive home.
We love Pinery and will certainly return. It is a great beach park, for sure, but the Visitor Centre, trails and activities are excellent too. I’m so thankful we were able to make it this summer!