There is something to be said for the feel of granite, or gravel, or sand, or Royalex, or even grass under your sandals.
We recently spent eight days at Restoule Provincial Park, near North Bay. This was our second trip to Restoule, but the first one was six years ago. We didn't bring a canoe on that trip, or do any of the hikes, since smallest daughter was just eighteen months old. This time, we made up for it.
Restoule has a nice sandy beach, with really warm water. It's quite shallow but drops off quickly outside the rope line. There was an occasional current of very cold water coming up out of the depths too. We were swimming with mask and goggles and saw a few larger fish in the deeper areas.
The park is on two lakes - Restoule and Stormy. Restoule is quite large, and filled with motorboats pulling tubers or water-skiers. We canoed on Stormy Lake instead. We dropped the canoe in near the group camping area on the river, and also at the boat launch. You can cut out quite a bit of paddling around the point that way, depending which direction you're headed.
The park tabloid has a reasonably detailed canoe route map in it, which really helped to plan a couple of day trips. We headed out to the end of Stormy Lake, to an area called the Long Wing. It's an area that looks like it would be excellent for spotting wildlife, but we didn't see anything there. A few days later we returned in the early evening, but still saw nothing more than a loon. From the Long Wing we paddled through a shallow passage to Clear Lake, then back to Stormy through the Narrows. A nice route, which took us a few hours of leisurely paddling.
The other day trip was to the other end of Stormy Lake, and up the Restoule river. The river is quite wide, and must be a fishing hotspot, because we saw several boats trying their luck. Again, not much wildlife to see.
The highlight of the hiking trails at Restoule is the Fire Tower trail. It's a seven kilometre loop that passes by the top of the bluff overlooking Stormy Lake, and an old fire tower. The trail is not too strenuous, except for the final 500m, which is pretty vertical. The view from the top is worth the climb.
There are three shorter trails in the park. The Ranger Point trail can be done in five minutes on a bike, or about 15 minutes on foot. Deer are plentiful along this trail, and there's a nice lookout onto the lake and the bluffs. We biked the Angel Point trail a couple of times in the evening, spotting a fawn and doe along one of the side paths. The River trail is a two kilometre loop along the river and up into the woods across from the group camping area. It's a nice walk, with only one short steep hill to climb.
If you're heading to Restoule this summer, take 534 from Powassan rather than 522 from Trout Creek. Just about the entire length of 522 is being repaved, and at best it's down to one lane of loose gravel right now.