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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Enjoy Ontario Parks' 125th year in the great outdoors



   One-Tank Trip for Dec. 16-17

   (c) By Jim Fox
   For Postmedia Network/Sun Media newspapers and websites
  
   It will be a howling good time as Ontario Parks kicks off its 125th year with a series of fun winter events.

   To mark the milestone year, ring in the New Year at Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville.

   That’s where a guided Coyote Howl and Kid’s Countdown bonfire will be held and then “start 2018 on the right foot with a #FirstDayHike,” said parks publicist Jeff Brown.

   The concept is simple: visit a provincial park on Jan. 1 for a hike as it’s a fun and healthy way to kick off the New Year,” he added.
 
Exuberant winter lovers at Frontenac Provincial Park. (Ontario Parks photo)


   Elsewhere, head to Rondeau Provincial Park on Lake Erie for guided owl prowls, suet feeder-making sessions, afternoon movies and park scavenger hunts.
   The iconic Algonquin Provincial Park hosts Winter in the Wild on Feb. 17, as one of many Family Day events.
  
   Skate, ski, or snowshoe there and join park rangers at Mew Lake Campground for a bonfire followed by an evening wolf howl.
   A gala 125th event will be held next month in Toronto followed later by a celebration at Arrowhead Provincial Park, north of Huntsville. 
   That’s to coincide with the opening of a four-season, multi-purpose pavilion at the park that added more camp cabins this year.

   Anyone wanting to try an overnight experience can do so as 10 of the 26 winter parks have cozy cabins, yurts and cottages.
   They attract hearty campers wanting to cross-country ski, snowshoe, skate, ride fat bikes and dogsled on groomed park trails.
   In the busy summer season, roofed accommodations can be found at 30 provincial parks.

Drop me a line – fishing and boating at a busy provincial park dock. (Jim Fox photo)
   The great outdoors
   The Ontario provincial park system is the envy of the world, catering to Canadians’ love of the great outdoors.
   The birthday theme is Healthy Parks Healthy People and connecting people to nature.
   More than 10-million visitors from around the world visit the parks every year.
   The 330 parks represent nearly eight per cent of the land mass in Ontario and cover 82,000 square kilometres – larger than Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island combined.
   Ontario Parks operates some 100 parks with visitor facilities and services such as day-use areas, campgrounds, trails and interior camping.
   The remaining “non-operating” parks are managed mainly to protect wildlife, plants, natural habitats and spectacular scenery.
Camping in style at McRae Point Provincial Park near Orillia. (Jim Fox photo)
   As one of Canada’s largest provincial park systems, Ontario’s oldest is Algonquin, established in 1893.
   Covering 772,300 hectares, the vast interior has maple hills, rocky ridges and thousands of lakes to be explored by canoe or on foot.
   Cutting through Algonquin is a 56-kilometre stretch of Highway 60 with easy access to eight campgrounds, 14 hiking trails, Natural Heritage Education programs, a Visitor Centre, Logging Museum and Art Centre.

   Newest treasures
   Ontario Parks will be expanding with a partnership with the Nature Conservancy (NCC) of Canada.
   Two of the not-for-profit, private land conservation organization’s land acquisitions will join the parks in the Frontenac Arch Natural Area, near Brockville and Kingston.
Fun on the water at a quiet provincial park lake. (Barbara Fox photo)
   They are to be the Brockville Long Swamp Fen Provincial Park and NCC’s land on Red Horse Lake will be part of an expanded Charleston Lake Provincial Park.
   Last summer, 2,600 hectares were added to the provincial parks and conservation reserves.

   Order your campsite now
   Special anniversary events will help to make it a busy year, so Brown suggests arranging for a campsite now using the “five-month booking window” online or by phone.
A vibrant fall sunset at Bass Lake (Jim Fox photo)
   A newly designed Parks Guide and125th anniversary calendar will be available in early January. Winter season permits are online to be followed by the2018 annual and summer park permits. For details and events listings: ontarioparks.com

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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