It’s been a long longggg time since my last post, almost 2 years ago in fact! To say that times have changed lately would be a HUGE understatement as most can attest with the cataclysm that has been COVID-19 over the past year of our lives. Despite mostly staying in over the past year, its taken a while to even find the motivation to write this post. Between lockdowns and regulation changes, we luckily managed to safely get away for a little while to get our annual camping and nature fill at the end of June last year.
About 30min east of North Bay, Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park is literally in the middle of nowhere. With international travel ground to a halt last year with the pandemic, it was really hard to find a site even within a few hours of Peterborough, all of a sudden everyone wanted to go camping. So, we looked far and north and found Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park which was around a 4.5 hour drive away for us.
Although the showers were completely closed due to safety reasons (you bet we didn’t smell too pretty, dips in the lake helped!), we were so thankful that the Provincial Parks eventually opened for camping.
Quite a large park, one of the highlights is grabbing a tube and floating down the river. The secret here, bring bikes! We packed up the truck, left it down at the parking lot by the boat launch near the Mattawa River and rode our bikes back to our campsite. From here we were able to grab our tubes and walk to the start of the top of the river nearby. It takes probably around 15min to float down the river and we ended up right at the boat launch where we left our truck.
Honestly, we could have done this daily. It was a nice and refreshing way to keep cool (and somewhat clean!) and relax, just needed to watch out for the pointy rocks in the shallow areas (you learn very quickly to lift your butt out of the water in these areas).
Fellow campers were very respectful of one another and doing their part to keep each other safe (aka not going near each other). Not only were showers closed but only 2 people were allowed at all times in the washrooms with anyone waiting lined up 6ft apart from each other outside while waiting (pretty much standard and required practice for lining up anywhere nowadays).
When we weren’t lazing in the lake or floating down the river, we got a few hikes in. Always a good thing to note, when hiking anytime in June, July or August, always, always remember to put on bug spray. We completed a challenging hike on the Etienne System Trails, and I wish I could remember how long that trail was exactly…all I do remember was running near the end to finish because the sun was starting to set and then…so many bugs (did I mention the importance of bug spray?). Although I do have to say there were a few good moments during that 7k or 9k hike with great views and overall it was an awesome workout.
Due to COVID, unfortunately their Voyageur canoe experience was closed.
With North Bay being so close by we were able to head into town to stock up on supplies whenever needed. Also there is a very small town even closer to the park, 10 min away called Mattawa which has a few essential stores too.
Side note, something really cool, which we weren’t aware of on previous camping trips is that most provincial parks have their own park stickers! Since I found this out last year, we’ve been on a mission to collect all of them.
And c’est la vie! Our 2021 camping trip is booked and we are literally counting down the days (pending restrictions that will be in place at the time of course) until a very exciting camping trip to Killarney!!
Until the next adventure!