Pinery – June 15-17, 2018

The week before last, Kory asked if I wanted to go camping at the Pinery for the weekend. I admit I was initially a bit reluctant to drive all the way there just for the weekend (it’s about 220km). I quickly changed my mind, however and started packing! We love the Pinery. It is a big park with an amazing beach and lots to see and do. Kory and I have been many times but this would be our first time there as a family of four. The forecast was all over the map – cool Friday night, rain Saturday, HOT Sunday, so I had to pack a variety of clothes even for such a short trip. 

Throwback to my first ever visit to Pinery, June 14, 2001


Kory and I tried our best to have everything ready so we could leave right after work on Friday. Alas, some last minute trouble with the trailer lights put us a bit behind but we were on the road by 6pm. We arrived at the riverside campground after an uneventful drive and set to work on the trailer. It was late but both girls entertained themselves around the campsite while we set up.

The girls entertaining themselves during our late night set-up


Em created a game where Lyssa would throw the flying saucer and then she would try to throw a pine cone wherever the saucer landed. I love it when they entertain themselves and play so well together! Riverside campground has both electrical and non electrical sites. We had dirt and gravel ground and were under a canopy of red pine, red oak and chinquapin oak with lots of fragrant sumac and tons of poison ivy. 


Canopy shot!


After a late bedtime, Kory and I enjoyed a bonfire before passing out after our long day. 

We woke up to rain in the early morning hours. It is nights and mornings like these when I really love having the pop up camper. I am however looking forward to tent camping with the girls this summer.

Rainy campsite set-up in Riverside campground


The rain started to taper off after breakfast and we wanted to go for a walk. Into the car and over to the Visitor Centre we went, with plans of walking the Cedar trail. This hike started out with a bit of a struggle. We were all tired from our late night and a bit grumpy at first. After a couple false starts for potty breaks and a forgotten jacket we were off.

Cedar trail with my girls, ages 2 and 5


This accessible trail leads through a beautiful Oak Savanna down to the Ausable River Channel. Even though Lyssa is 2 now, she still enjoys a ride in the Tula every so often. She was *this* close to a nap when she got distracted by other hikers. So curious! 

Yellow Puccoon was blooming along the trail


Following our walk, we went into the Visitor Centre where the naturalist was talking about turtles. The girls got a close look at a Midland Painted Turtle that was rescued from someone’s pool. The Centre has several turtles on display, all rescued animals that are unable to return to the wild. 

We returned to our campsite for lunch and another failed attempt at a nap for Lyssa. The forecast called for clear skies so we set out for a paddle. Before having kids, Kory and I did several backcountry canoe trips . Someday, we hope to get the girls out there too! This paddle on the Ausable River Channel would be our first time with all four of us in a canoe! Kory picked up a kid-sized Grey Owl paddle for Em earlier this year at the Outdoor Adventure Show and she was so excited to put it to use! We rented the canoe for 2 hours at $25 and headed down the ramp to the dock where we were provided with a Nova Craft 16foot Prospector. We jumped in and immediately felt comfortable on the water. Em quickly figured out how to paddle – the tricky part for her was paddling in sinc with daddy or myself.

Em using her Grey Owl paddle

The first part of the river closest to the store was quite busy with canoes, kayaks, paddle boats and stand-up paddle boards, all filled with people having a great time on the calm water. As we continued the crowd lessened and we really started to enjoy ourselves. The Ausable was the perfect spot for our first family paddle – calm water with beautiful scenery.

You can almost forget you’re in Southwestern Ontario!


A Yellow-throated vireo treated us with its song as several Belted Kingfishers flew over us. We were lucky enough to spot some Painted Turtles and a family of Canada Geese with goslings in tow. Snacks kept the small ones entertained when they grew a bit restless and thankfully no one had to pee! We weren’t sure how our first paddle would go, but we used up every minute of our 2-hour rental. I think Kory and I are both dreaming of a backcountry trip…

Back at the campsite, we enjoyed dinner and some roasted marshmallows over the fire.

Campfire time!


I wish I could say that the girls passed out, exhausted after our busy day, but the reality is that bedtime took forever. A combination of being way off our normal routine (and maybe the marshmallows) meant that I didn’t make it out to enjoy some grown-up time by the fire until 10pm… Ah well… At least I was treated to the sound of Whip-or-wills calling when I finally sat down!

The forecast for Sunday called for heat, and it did not disappoint. We had a quick breakfast and drove to the beach in the Burley Campground. Man, driving through that campground brought back so many memories of the times Kory and I have shared at Pinery, going back 17 years now!

The beach was beautiful. Calm water, chilly though! I had to keep reminding myself that it’s not even summer yet!

Braving the water with my big girl!


The girls set to work playing on the beach. I even got to sit by myself and relax for a couple minutes!

Father’s Day at the beach


At one point, we enjoyed a family game of catch and I remember thinking that going to the beach is infinitely easier this year than last. I’m really enjoying having a 2-year old and a 5-year old. I wish I could freeze time for a while! 

We had to drag the kids away from the beach in order to get back to our campsite and pack up to be out by the check-out time of 2pm. The temperature was rising and to be perfectly honest, I was looking forward to sleeping in my air-conditioned bedroom!

We packed a lot into a weekend and had a great time! I’m glad we decided to take the trip.

Here’s a YouTube video of a more recent trip to Pinery!


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