Presqu'ile Provincial Park


Location: Brighton, Ontario
Region: Southeastern
Character: Natural Environment
Activities:
Rating:
Length/Size: 2,315.4 acres

Presqu'ile Provincial Park
By Ontario Parks

A mecca for birdwatchers every spring and fall, this peninsula south of Brighton is a major flyway for migrating birds, home to waterfowl and shorebirds, and a staging point for Mexico-bound monarch butterflies. A long boardwalk crosses wetlands where marsh birds live and fish spawn. On islands to the west, colonies of gulls, cormorants, terns and herons nest. At the tip of the park are Ontario's second-oldest operating lighthouse and the original lighthouse keeper's cottage.

Visit the Friends of Presqu'ile web site.

Camping
There are 394 campsites in eight campgrounds. 160 campsites have electrical service.

Group Camping
There are 10 group sites. Site one accommodates 75, site two, 50, site three, 70, site four, 40, site five, 25, site six, 40, site seven, 50, site eight, 15, site nine, 60, and site ten accommodates 60 people. There are water taps and vault toilets on site, as well as a garbage depot. The sites are located near Rocky Beach, and are a 15 to 20 minute walk from the comfort station. The sites are available for the use of any group, and reservations can be made by calling the park directly at (613) 475-4324.

Electric Sites - 160 total, 24 in Pines, 81 in High Bluff, 8 in Elmvale and 47 in Trails End.

Lighthouse Interpretive Centre

The Lighthouse Interpretive Centre introduces park guests to the fascinating cultural history of Presqu'ile. Come see the lighthouse model, schooner displays and our video presentations on the sinking of the Speedy and the history of the peninsula as told by Jack Atkins, the last farmer on the peninsula. Join us each Friday throughout the summer for history programs on the characters who called Presqu'ile their home. The Lighthouse Interpretive Centre and Lighthouse Gift Shop are open daily during the summer months from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and on weekends during the fall.

Nature Centre

Come and visit the Nature Centre and catch a glimpse of the rich natural history Presqu'ile has to offer. Get up close to the live frogs, snakes, fish and turtles that call the park home. The Nature Centre is in the yellow house located on Lighthouse Lane between the Group Camp and Lighthouse Interpretive Centre. The Nature Centre is open daily during the summer from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and on weekends in the fall.

Barrier Free Access
Showers at Lakeside and Hidden Valley campgrounds, flush toilets at Pines, Lakeside and Hidden Valley campgrounds, Lighthouse Interpretive Centre, Marsh Boardwalk Trail

Park Store
The Park Store sells basic groceries, camping supplies, park souvenirs and fast food. Firewood is available at the Park Store and Camp Office.

The Friends of Presqu'ile operate a gift and book store at the Lighthouse Interpretive Centre.

Showers
Yes, in comfort stations in Maples, Hidden Valley and High Bluff campgrounds

Flush Toilets
Yes, in comfort stations in Maples, Pines, Lakeside and Hidden Valley campgrounds and along the beach

Boat Launch
There is a municipally run boat launch 1km east of the park entrance.

Rentals - Volleyball nets/balls, charcoal barbeques.

Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) are available at the Main Gate. For a $25 refundable deposit, you can borrow a properly fitted PRD for you and your children.

Hiking
Owen Point Trail
Length: 1.6 km loop
Time: 45 minutes
Location: accessible from Beach 4 or High Bluff Campground
Parking: Beach 4 parking lot
Discover the diversity the natural beach has to offer. This sandy path is among the best birding areas in the park. Beginning at Beach 4, this trail meanders through tall grasses and stands of young willows and cottonwoods, where you are sure to hear the songs of Yellow Warblers, American Goldfinches and Song Sparrows in early summer. Side trails lead to lookout stations, which allow you to view shorebirds and other wildlife along the beach. Sightings here include many sandpipers and plovers, herons, frogs, and butterflies. Migrating birds and other species use the beach as a feeding and resting area. Since some birds travel tens of thousands of kilometres each year, it is important that they not be disturbed during their brief stay here. So, visitors are asked to stay behind the barriers provided and not to bring pets on the trail. At the south end of the trail, visitors can view Gull Island and High Bluff Island from Owen Point. Access to the islands is prohibited from March 10 to September 10 to protect the thousands of breeding birds found there. From the point, the trail heads east and passes a small marsh, filled with the sounds of Red-winged Black Birds and Swamp Sparrows. Just before reaching High Bluff campground, the trail meets the paved bicycle path. Visitors wishing to return to Beach 4 can follow this path back to the parking lot.

Pioneer Trail
Length: 3.8 km loop
Time: 2.5 hours
Location: Accessible from the campgrounds or Lighthouse Lane.
Parking: lot opposite Group Camp entrance on Lighthouse Lane.
Follow the yellow arrows to enjoy a walk through the hidden forests and fields that make up the heart of the Presqu'ile peninsula. The Pioneer trail passes by old fields, once cleared by early settlers for their homes and farms. Full of wildflowers and grasses, these fields make excellent habitat for butterflies and other invertebrates. When the milkweed and vetches bloom in July, watch for an abundance of Sulphurs, Monarchs and Skippers feeding in the open areas. Some of these old fields were reforested with plantations of Norway Spruce, White Spruce, White Pine and Red Pine. These artificial forests attract some seed-eating birds and Red Squirrels, who create food caches of cones at the base of trees. At the edge of the natural forest, you may see White-tailed Deer browsing on tender new tree shoots. Following the posted yellow arrows will assist you in navigating this trail in the winter by foot or by ski.

Jobes' Woods Trail
Length: 1 km loop
Time: 45 minutes
Location: Paxton Drive.
Parking: opposite trail entrance
A colourful trail guide is available at the trail head sign to direct you through this wheelchair accessible loop of alternating trail and boardwalk. You will pass through four communities while on this trail. Towering Sugar Maples dominate the old growth forest as you enter the trail. Watch for Pileated Woodpeckers drilling large oval holes in the side of dead trees, looking for a meal of invertebrates. Wood Frogs and Spotted Salamanders take advantage of the water accumulation in the Black Ash swamp during spring mating season. They must breed in water and their aquatic larvae mature in the ephemeral pools while feeding on the larvae of mosquitoes and other invertebrates. Next you will find that you have left the forest and are standing in the midst of an old field. Thomas and Ezekial Jobe cleared this area for farmland many years ago. After being abandoned, the field filled in with sun-loving plants. Today, Red Ash trees, ferns and wildflowers dominate the field, but over many years, it will become part of the forest once more. Keep your eyes open for White-tailed Deer that like to browse on the young trees or bed down in the tall grasses. The straight rows of planted pines and spruces in the plantation you encounter will help you appreciate the diversity of the natural forest. Trees in a plantation are all the same age and their density prevents new growth on the ground. Plantations were established many years ago as windbreaks to shelter the boats in Presqu'ile Bay. Take a stroll down Jobes Woods Trail and you will see these and other signs of Presqu'ile's past.

Marsh Boardwalk
Length: 1 km loop
Time: 45 minutes
Location: Parking lot is east of Bayshore Road, between the Beach 3 and Beach 4
access roads.
This wheelchair accessible series of boardwalks and floating bridges is the best way to experience Presqu'ile's marsh, the largest protected wetland on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Your first stop after entering the trail from the back corner of the parking lot is a platform where you will look over the cattail marsh. Cattails support an abundance of life, evident as you follow the rest of the boardwalk. Listen for the calls of Marsh Wrens, Red-Winged Blackbirds and Common Yellowthroats in early summer or come out near dusk to hear the elusive American Bittern, Pied Billed Grebe or Virginia Rail. Watch for cleared trails in the cattails, flattened mounds of vegetation and chewed up water lily roots - all evidence of Muskrats. Be careful as you cross the floating bridges - Pumpkinseed sunfish like to make their nests in the surrounding gravel. Insects, such as the Dragonflies that dart through the marsh, are abundant underwater in their larval form. Climb up the lookout tower for a spectacular view of the marsh. Here you are able to see different zones of the marsh: open water, cattails, shrubs and forest. In the open water you may see Mute Swans and Mallards or Bullfrogs and Snapping Turtles amongst the water lilies. Past the last bridge, the trail takes you into a strip of mystical White Cedar forest, part of what is known as the 'Fingers'. Beaver presence is shown by stumps with tell tale marks. A wet meadow interrupts this forest - great place to see wildflowers in late summer or fireflies on summer nights. This trail is best enjoyed in the morning or evening, as there is no shade from the midday sun on the boardwalk.

Newcastle Trail
Length: 3 km loop
Time: 2 hours
Location: Accessible from Paxton Drive and Lighthouse Lane.
Parking: lot opposite Group Camp entrance on Lighthouse Lane.
Named after the town that was planned for this site, the Newcastle Trail allows visitors to explore the forest, plantations and old fields in the eastern half of Presqu'ile's lower peninsula. The least disturbed example of mature Beech-Maple forest at Presqu'ile is on this quiet trail. If you begin at the group camp entrance, walk down Jobes Lane, past the group camping area and then follow the orange arrows. Fallen trees in this picturesque woodland are a sure place to find an abundance of mushrooms and salamanders. While you crouch down you will notice the delicate ferns and wildflowers that grace the forest floor. The uneven nature of the ground results in temporary pools of water, which fill with the almost deafening sound of Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs calling for a mate in spring. When you reach the paved trail that crosses the peninsula, feel free to take a break and visit the Nature Centre, located directly to the south. This paved path is a great location for watching migrating warblers in spring and fall. Continue to the east end of the Newcastle trail and you'll find the Lighthouse Interpretive Centre. You may want to stop in to view the cultural history displays or continue your walk following the orange arrows. Why not return in the winter to enjoy this trail by cross-country ski?

Lighthouse Foot Path
Length: 300 m loop
Time: 10 minutes
Location: outside the Lighthouse Interpretive Centre
Parking: Lighthoue Interpretive Centre parking lot
Take a stroll past the Lighthouse Interpretive Centre to see the second oldest operating lighthouse on the Ontario side of the Great Lakes. Read about Presqu'ile's rich cultural history at significant sights along the way. This path also provides excellent birding opportunities during migration.

Wildlife Viewing
As a major stopover for migrating birds and monarch, Presqu'ile is renowned among birdwatchers. At least 327 species of birds have been spotted within in the park and 125 species are known to nest here. The park is also home to a large population of white-tail deer.

Swimming - A long, safe sandy beach is ideal for family swimming.

Winter Activities
Cross-country ski along 16 km of groomed trails. From the group camping parking lot, two loops head east and west.

Hunting
Hunting in this park is subject to the Ontario Hunting Regulations. Certain restrictions apply. For more information, contact the park or your local area or district office of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

For more information:
Presqu'ile Provincial Park
328 Presqu'ile Parkway
Brighton, Ontario
K0K 1H0
613-475-4324