Presqu'ile Provincial Park
Location: Southeast of Colborne in the town of Brighton, Ontario.
Presqu'ile Provincial Park is located southeast of Colborne in the town of Brighton, Ontario, between Toronto and Kingston. This park offers hiking, wildlife viewing, swimming, biking, winter activities, camping and much, much more.
Presqu'ile Provincial Park is the perfect place to stretch your legs and enjoy tranquil and scenic lakeside picnic and camping areas, 3 km of warm sandy beach, 16 km of trails, 394 campsites of which 160 have electrical hook-ups, and spectacular bird watching.
Educational Programs and two Visitor Centres open daily in July and August.
Presqu'ile Provincial Park has eight campground areas offering a total of 394 reservable sites. Comfort stations with flush toilets are available throughout the park; see park map.
Presqu'ile -- French for "almost an island" -- is a boomerang-shaped spit of sand and limestone that juts sharply into Lake Ontario. The land formation is a tombolo, created as wind and waves piled sand and gravel from the lake bottom between a limestone island and the mainland. The action of the water and wind reinforces the peninsula with sand and causes the beach to grow by as much as 2 metres each year! Richly varied, the park's natural landscape features sand dunes, sand and pebbled beaches, limestone outcroppings, forests, reedy marshes and coastal wet meadows called pannes which are of international significance.
The park is a haven for migratory birds. About 126 species of birds nest here, and at least 321 species have been sighted enroute to destinations such as South America, the Arctic, Europe and Asia. Each autumn, the park is a gathering point for monarch butterflies as they begin their migratory trek to Mexico.
Day use fees and camping fees are charged. See: Fees.
Pets: For health and safety reasons all domestic animals must be kept under control and on a leash not exceeding 2 metres at all times. Under the Public Health Act pets are not allowed in swimming areas or on the beach at any time. You must clean up after your pet. Pets are not allowed in the comfort station showers. Owen Point Trail is a pet-free zone to protect the birds.
Swimming : A long, safe sandy beach is ideal for family swimming.
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.
Winter Activities: Cross-country ski along 16 km of groomed trails. From the group camping parking lot, two loops head east and west.
Information Guides & Maps
Presqu'ile Park Information Guide:
10 campgrounds with a total of 394 campsites (160 have electrical hook-ups). Campsites are of varying sizes: Tent, Trailers (less than 18'), Trailers (18' - 32'), Trailers (more than 32').
All camping reservations must be made via Ontario Parks using either the Ontario Parks Reservation Service or by calling 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275).
Presqu'ile has over 16km of trails.
- Marsh Boardwalk: 1 km loop, 45 minutes
- Owen Point Trail: 1.6 km loop, 1 hour
- Pioneer Trail: 3.8 km loop, 2.5 hours
- Newcastle Trail: 4.3 km loop, 2 hours
- Jobes' Woods Trail: 1 km loop, 45 minutes
See these guides:
Note: Bicycles are not permitted on the beach or the beach walkways. The only trail that bicycles are permitted on is the Bicycle Trail; bicycles are not permitted on any other trail.
There are two bicycles routes that you can take:
Bicycles Trail: Short route on unpaved ground.
The Bicycle Trail starts near the Owen Point Trail. Drive your vehicle south along Presqu'ile Parkway to the Owen Point Trail driveway (it is past the Beach #3 driveway). On the left side of the driveway there is a rectangular parking lot; park at the far end (do not continue driving along the driveway to the Owen Point Trail parking lot which is farther along). Access to the Bicycle Trail is just past the end of the rectangular parking lot and is on your left. The Bicycle Trail goes past the park store and runs parallel to the Owen Point Trail. It then enters the campgrounds where it follows the shore of the rocky beach east where it comes out at Chatterton Point. Either turn around and go back the way you came, or continue bicycling on the long Lighthouse Lane / Paxton Drive loop roadway which has a bike lane.
Lighthouse Lane / Paxton Drive loop: Long route on paved roadway with a bike lane.
You want to park at the parking lot in the middle of the picnic area along Lighthouse Lane. Drive your vehicle south along Presqu'ile Parkway to Lighthouse Lane. Turn right onto Lighthouse Lane (the roadway is one-way traffic with a bike lane). Continue until you reach the intersection that says "Trail Parking (right arrow), Group Camping (left arrow)". Turn right and park in the parking lot. Ride your bicycles around the Lighthouse Lane / Paxton Drive loop. Along the way on your right you will see the Nature Centre. At the end of Lighthouse Lane there is a road on your right that leads to the lighthouse; you may want to stop and visit the lighthouse. Otherwise continue to the left as Lighthouse Lane becomes Paxton Drive. Continue on Paxton Drive. Along the way, you may want to stop at Calf Pasture Point (on your right), or at Jobes' Wood Trail (on your left). As you continue along
Paxton Drive, it eventually joins back up with Presqu'ile Parkway and Lighthouse Lane. Watch for vehicle traffic then continue to the left on Lighthouse Lane and return to your vehicle. Note: The one-way roadway does have vehicle traffic so be particularly careful around vehicles and keep to the right side bike lane.
Lighthouse & Lighthouse Interpretive Centre
||The Lighthouse Interpretive Centre focuses on interpreting the parks' cultural heritage and its relationship to Lake Ontario's history through a number of multi-media displays. The Lighthouse Gift Store, operated by the Friends' of Presqu'ile, is also located in this building. The Lighthouse Interpretive Building is open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm every day between Canada Day weekend and Labour Day weekend and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on weekends in spring and fall.
||Originally constructed from limestone in 1840, the Presqu'ile Lighthouse was wrapped in timber and clad in cedar shingles 54 years later to prevent ongoing deterioration of the structure. The elegant lantern capping the lighthouse remained in place until 1965. Visit the Lighthouse Interpretive Centre to see a scaled model illustrating details of this historic structure.
Presqu'ile Provincial Park is considered one of Ontario's best bird viewing locations. The peninsula's marshes, bays, sand dunes, beaches and field and forest communities meet the nesting requirements of 127 different bird species. 329 bird species have been recorded in the park. Presqu'ile is best known for the large numbers and diversity of waterfowl, warblers and shorebirds that migrate through each spring and fall.
The park's location on Lake Ontario makes it a perfect stop over for migrating birds along the Michigan Flyway. For this reason is it also an important location for viewing migrating birds and Monarch butterflies. The park's long beaches make it particularly appealing to migrating shorebirds. Limestone islands near the park area support large nesting colonies of Double-crested Cormorants, Caspian and Common Terns, several gull species, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Black-crowned Night-herons. In early spring, Presqu'ile Bay is an important staging area for thousands of migrating waterfowl. The park also includes a large marsh which provides nesting habitat for rails, bitterns and other wetland birds. Presqu'ile has been identified as a Canadian Important Bird Area.
Map & Directions
Distance from Toronto is approximately 150 km, approximately 1.5 hours drive.
In the vicinity, you should see Ontario blue-and-white road signs that point the way to the park.
- Take Hwy 401 to Exit #509 (Hwy 30).
- Take Hwy 30 southbound for 5 km.
- Turn right onto Main St (Hwy 2).
- Take Main St westbound for 800 m (then count to 5th road on your left).
- Turn left at Ontario St (RR #66) (Ontario < 4 road sign on the right-shoulder that points left).
- Continue south on Ontario St for 2.8 km.
- Take the slight curve right that becomes Presqu'Ile Parkway. (Note: If you reach the end of Ontario St, turn around and go back one block then turn left onto Presqu'Ile Pkwy).
- Continue on Presqu'Ile Pkwy for about 950m.
- Road curves to the left as you near the park.
- Road goes through the park entrance.
Contact & Address
Presqu'ile Provincial Park
328 Presqu'ile Parkway, RR #4
Brighton, Ontario, K0K 1H0
"Presqu'ile Provincial Park"
The park area had been selected in 1797 as the site of a town called Newcastle which was to become the county seat. However, on October 8, 1804, the schooner HMS Speedy, which was bringing officials to a trial at the new courthouse, sank offshore with all on board lost. The ship was never found, nor the bodies of the passengers and crew. The county seat was moved to nearby Amherst (now Cobourg, Ontario).
The battle schooner or gunboat HMS Speedy sank in a blinding snowstorm in Lake Ontario south of Brighton, Ontario and west of Prince Edward County, on 8 October 1804, with the loss of all hands. The sinking changed the course of Canadian history because of the prominence of the citizens of the tiny colony of Upper Canada lost in the disastrous event.
|In 1804 an Indian, Ogetontcut, arrested near York, was accused of murdering a trader, John Sharp, at Lake Scugog. The trial was to be held here in the projected, but never completed, "district town" of the Newcastle District. On October 7, the schooner "Speedy" sailed from York. Her passengers, in addition to the prisoner, included Solicitor-General Robert Gray, Judge Thomas Cochrane, High Constable John Fisk and other participants in the trial. The ship appeared briefly off Presqu'ile on the 8th before vanishing forever. The loss of so many prominent persons was a severe blow to the small colony.
In 1964, the Ontario Historical Society recognized the importance of the Loss of the Speedy and erected a plaque at Presqu'ile Point.
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