Rayyan, my son and I were at the farthest point of the Trail that wound its way through a special area in the park which is protected as a nature reserve. We had crossed a floating boardwalk, rocky ridges and lookouts, as well as a variety of interesting wetlands, all the time anticipating an encounter with a black bear as we were in the bear country. Instead, right in front of us and staring, we saw a coyote pup.
All of us froze for a minute, experiencing an ineffable feeling.
I was able to take a few shots before the coyote pup cantered off into the woods.
We had reached the spot after 1 hour of moderately difficult hike on Swan Lake Trail.
Introduction to the park
My family, consisting of four adults and a 6 years old, visited Grundy Lake Provincial Park in early June 2022. K2, our Hungarian Kuvasz (February 13, 2011- May 12, 2022), would have been with us, although hanging around the camp site and beaches, during our visit to this provincial park.
The provincial park is located about 322 km north of Toronto just off the Trans-Canada Highway. It sprawls over an area of 36 sq. km. and is designated IUCN category of a national park. A mixed forest marks this area as the boundary between north and south. It offers camping experience for everyone: RV, car camping or backcountry canoe-in sites. It has 4 hiking trails, countless inland lakes that offer endless canoeing and kayaking, biking, birding, cycling, fishing, swimming, and wildlife viewing.
Hiking the Swan Lake Trail
All five of us started the hike on Swan Lake Trail, but only Rayyan and I were able to complete this 1.5 km long moderately difficult loop trail. The rocky outcrops and roots of the trees were not difficult to negotiate, but they did take some toll on our ankles.
Hiking the Gut Lake Trail
Rayyan and I hiked on this 2.5 km long moderately difficult trail.
We hiked by two different areas: the rugged rock of the Precambrian Shield (which supports most of the life in this area), and the lakes, streams and wetlands (which drain excess water into Georgian Bay). We found many points that were ideal for photos or rest stops. The trail is frequented by Great Blue Herons, other birds, amphibians, fox, deer and moose.
Hiking the Beaver Dams Trail
Leaving the other members of the family by a beach, Rayyan and I hiked on this 3.6 km long moderately difficult trail that had become waterlogged after rains.
We hiked through waterlogged dense forest and wetlands. Although moose, deer, fisher, grouse and many other species of birds and mammals may be seen, we only found dragonflies, ebony jewelwing damsel flies, and a garter snake.
We finally passed by a dammed rock fracture which controlled the water level of Bucke Lake and affected Grundy and Gut Lakes, as well as Nisbet Creek. This was reportedly the work of beavers, who are amazing engineers.
Gurd Lake by our camping site
We were camped at Hemlock camping site located almost next to the eastern shores of Gurd Lake. It offered beautiful scenery and canoeing.
Beach by our camping site
There were several beach areas in the park, but Zakariya and the girls wanted to stick to the Main beach that was at a walking distance from our Hemlock camping site.
Many Ontario Parks have their “signature” wildlife: commonly-encountered and charismatic animals that most park visitors hope to catch a glimpse of during their stay.
Woodland Caribou Provincial Park is named for the iconic Woodland Caribou. Murphys Point Provincial Park is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the elusive Gray Ratsnake. Rondeau Provincial Park is the place to see the rare Prothonotary Warbler.
Grundy Lake Provincial Park is the place to see a Blanding’s Turtle. It hosts a healthy population of this species. Volunteers like a newly made friend below (shot taken by young Zakariya) work throughout the season to locate turtles looking for nests.
We were able to see a black bear near the camp site, a coyote, dragon and damsel flies, and a garter snake.
Other animals that we missed seeing narrowly are great blue herons, other birds that constantly chirruped and tweeted, amphibians, grouse, fox, deer, beavers, and moose. The park has a small presence of fishers as well.
We identified beaver’s poop on Beaver Dams trail though.
A mixed forest marks this area as the boundary between north and south. Eastern white cedars, balsam fir, white spruce, and especially eastern white pines have always been my favorites. They were present in abundance.
Where to stay
The best way to enjoy the Park is to camp in its one of the several sites. We reserved a site in Hemlock camping area which was close to Gut Lake and a beach.
I personally had my tent set up with complete camping gear.
The only other viable option for day use is to settle in a hotel/inn in Parry Sound, about 100 km south on Trans-Canada Highway.
AND FINALLY, REMEMBERING K2, OUR HUNGARIAN KUVASZ
Brantwood Mount Godwin Austen ‘K2’ (February 13, 2011 – May 12, 2022) – Our companion, guard dog, a hiking buddy, who traveled with us to many national, provincial, and conservation parks passed away. It seems like a part of us left with him.
Until my next blog, cheers! Be outdoorsy, embrace diversity, and support causes for the conservation of nature!