In addition to cycling, one of my favourite outdoor activities is camping. Since I was a kid, travelling to different provincial parks in Ontario has been a big part of each summer. This past weekend, I spent a couple of days at Awenda Provincial Park, near Midland-Penetanguishene, on the shore of Georgian Bay. As usual, I took a bike with me to explore.
Awenda has over 30 km of trails. Some of the trails are for hikers/walkers only, but several trails are available for cycling. The Bluff Trail is 13 km long and it crosses through the campground, along the bluff and through scenic woods. It’s a wide trail (doubletrack), and a mountain bike is ideal (much of the trail is hard-packed dirt, but there are enough rocks and roots to make it interesting. There are also a few gradual climbs/downhills (depending on the direction you ride this circular loop), and you can jump on the trail at one of a number of trail heads. The main loop is about 10 km and there are side trails and short cuts that add another 3-4 km of trail.
The trail also crosses Awenda Park Road (the main road into the campground). If you take this road north towards Georgian Bay, there’s a fast, paved downhill to the beach. There are many warning signs for cyclists to ride SLOWLY and there’s a 90 degree left-hand turn on the steepest part of the hill. After relaxing on one of Awenda’s four beaches, the ride UP this hill is short but steep, and there’s actually a Strava segment for this climb.
As I mentioned, there are four beaches at Awenda (actually five, if you include the Pet beach). The aptly named Beach Trail connects all four beaches at the bottom of the long hill. It’s a 2 km, flat multi-use trail with a surface of hard-packed gravel, dirt with some loose, sandy spots. We rode out to Beach #4 a couple of times. It’s a great beach for swimming and a lot less busy than the other beaches (it’s a long walk for campers who are dragging chairs, coolers etc.). The water was warm and clear and the sand was great for riding a fat bike (though I was conscious of disturbing other beach-users and kicking sand in their faces…).
There was no lifeguard on duty, but there was a sign with some basic rules: