After a great weekend of camping at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, we decided to fit in one more adventure, this time at Restoule Provincial Park on labour day weekend.
Highlights of Our Trip to Restoule Provincial Park
When we booked Grundy, rain was in the forecast for the entire weekend, and barely a drop fell. The reverse happened this time, with a dry but cool forecast, morphing into persistent intermittent rain both Friday and Saturday.
Although the weather was less than ideal, the success of any trip is always based on the people you spend it with, and they didn’t disappoint. As I’ve said before, COVID sucks, but the good thing is how it has brought the family together, and it was great to see so many of them, in a safe COVID fashion, this weekend.
By the time we arrived Friday the rain had stopped in time for us to set up our tent and make our favourite first night of camping meal, spaghetti and meatballs.
Saturday was a bit manic with mixed sun and showers throughout most of the day. Although not perfect, we managed to get in all the critical camping elements, including sandcastles, hiking, ice cream, and roasted marshmallows on the fire.
Sunday, was the highlight of the weekend with a run up the Fire Tower, another family hike, more beach, and even a bit of swimming.
Although we had planned to head home Monday, with a dry tent, and non-stop rain in the forecast we decided to head home a day early.
Restoule Provincial Park
Restoule Provincial Park is located about three and a half hours north of the 407, just a bit south west of North Bay.
The park itself offers a little bit of everything including three campgrounds, two comfort stations, two beaches, a boat launch, five hiking trails, two mild mountain biking trails, scenic views, day paddling, and backcountry camping along the French River.
We stayed at Putts Point Campground. Putts’ has everything you need, including one of the two beaches at Restoule, and a centrally located comfort station.
The beach at Putts Point has a long shallow walkout and is perfect for anyone with small children.
The beach at Putts is also home to the stunning sunsets you see below.
The downside to Putts was that the sites were fairly close together, with limited cover between them. With labour day being what it is, the noise carried well, and despite the warden’s attempts, the noise went well into the night.
We did a quick drive through Bells Point, whose sites appeared to have better spacing and more privacy. The downside is no beach or comfort station. Bells Point is also home to the parks ten walk-in, car camping, sites.
Although we didn’t visit Kettle Point, it does appear to be home to all the electrical campsites, with its own beach, and comfort station. The downside being similar spacing to Putts’, at least based on the map view.
Before I move on, if you’ve read my review of Grundy Provincial Park, you’ll know that one of my favourite features is their flush, vault, toilets. So far, Grundy is the only park I know that has it.
Hiking and Mountain Biking at Restoule Provincial Park
While at the park we did a family walk of the River Trail and Rivers Point Trail, while I also had a chance to run parts of the Fire Tower Trail, and the small connecting Grawbarger Trail.
Fire Tower Trail
Due to the length, slippery conditions, and the kids wanting to go to the beach, I decided to run the trail, with my dad walking up.
The Fire Tower Trail is labelled as the must-do trail at Restoule, it didn’t disappoint. The trail consists of a 4.1km, moderately difficult, loop to the top of the 100 meter high Stormy Lake Bluff. The route is relatively easy, with one final, mildly challenging climb, on the final loop to the top.
From the top, you will see this awe-inspiring view of Stormy Lake, photo credits to my Dad.
Just a few meters down the trail you will reach the fire tower itself, additional photo credits to my Dad.
One word of warning. After taking in the views of the fire tower, I took the first trail I saw down. It wasn’t until halfway down that I began to question my choice. Where the trail was hiking trail on the way up, it was gentle ATV trail on the way down. Although I knew I must be on the wrong path, the direction felt right, so I decided to carry on. In the end, rather than ending up in the parking lot about 600 meters past the entrance gate, I ended up outside the park about 600 meters before the gate.
This could be the trick for anyone looking for an easier way up and down the entire trail itself. As you can see in the image below my alternate path down, took me just outside the park entrance, approximately 630 meters from the park entrance.
Rangers Point Trail
To me, the Rangers Point Trail is probably the second most important, must-visit trail in Restoule. It’s an easy hike with highlights including views of Stormy Lake, the Stormy Lake Bluffs, and the Fire Tower.
After leaving the parking lot, you will cross this small bridge across the river that connects Restoule and Stormy Lakes. The River Trail is a short 1.2km, fairly easy trail over mostly flat terrain, before a moderate hill into the finish.
This is the perfect trail if you want to gain a deeper appreciation for the forests that are all around this part of Ontario. Do note, that we walked the trail after a few days of intermittent rain, and there were some parts on the uphill section that had poor drainage, leading to a mildly muddy hike.
The Grawbarger Trail is a short hiking and biking trail that links the campgrounds to the various hiking trails, and Stormy Lake access points.
Angel’s Point and Gibbs Trail
Although I didn’t have the opportunity to visit them this time, there are two other trails to explore. Angel’s Point, a mixed-use hiking and biking trail, and the Gibbs Trail is a longer, unmaintained, hiking trail designed for the more experienced hiker.
Paddling and Backcountry at Restoule
There are five, day paddling, routes at Restoule ranging in length from 2.5 to 14km.
Restoule also offers extensive backcountry camping with sites located throughout Stormy Lake, Restoule River, and along the historic French River.
The Town of Restoule
The Town of Restoule is only a few kilometres away. Within the town is everything you’ll need, including the Mill Bay Market, a butcher with fresh produce and soft-serve ice cream. The Crow’s Nest Restaurant which also offers a walk-up ice cream counter serving Chapman’s ice cream, and Gerry’s General Store, an all-purpose store, camp supplies, LCBO, and gas station in one.
Do note that many stores close by six, and The Crow’s Nest only accepts cash at the walk-up window.
I call out the closing time, because we needed to fill up for the ride home, and by the time we got there at 6:10 Gerry’s was closed. My car estimated that I should be able to make Huntsville, and I figured something would be on the way. My sister found one off the highway in Smiths Falls. I ended up finding a 24/7 roadside station in Burks Falls, 90km from Restoule.
Thanks for reading,