Start an annual tradition with your dog … at Presqu’ile Provincial Park

September might be my pup’s birthday month, but November is when we celebrate her ‘gotcha’ date. Mid-November in 2020, I made the six-hour drive to pick up my new Sprocker (half Springer, half cocker, and all spaniel), a dog who’d keep me busy daily.

On the way back home, we stopped at dog-friendly Presqu ’ile Provincial Park. I had my eight-week-old puppy wrapped in a pink blanket showing her, for the first time, the crashing waves along the park’s Great Lakes shoreline and the second oldest operating lighthouse in Ontario, Canada where she wouldn’t stay still for a photo. Swaddling her close to me, I whispered in her tiny floppy ear, “you’re going to have lots of adventures.”

Presqu’ile Provincial Park was my dog’s first travel destination, and we stayed overnight in nearby Brighton, Ontario, Canada. Even at eight-weeks-old, she wasn’t frightened by anything.

Fast forward one year later, and we’re back at Presqu’ile. This time my fully grown pup is fully vaccinated and pulling on the end of a leash anxious to experience the park from the ground.

Boardwalk: Best Park Activity Ever

Our favourite moment of the day at dog-friendly Presqu’ile Provincial Park was spending almost an hour along the one-kilometre boardwalk that winds over an expansive wetlands dotted with waterfowl. During our first visit, the boardwalk was closed due to bad weather. But a year later, my pup gleefully pranced along, greeting many other dogs as she went, and hesitantly following me up the wood stairs of several lookout towers.

Halfway through the boardwalk experience, I asked other walkers how much longer until the end. I found out we were at the midpoint – so, I continued trekking onward until the end – and it’s worth the walk to see the duck pond and then hook up with trails leading back to the parking lot. Take some water, however, because your dog will likely need it along the way. That’s one thing I seem to forget often.

Twice my frisky little Sprocker had such a great time at Presqu’ile Park, I’m making it a tradition. Every year to celebrate her ‘gotcha’ month, I’m taking her back to this provincial park – not to run on the beach, unfortunately – but to follow her bliss along boardwalks and backcountry, through the woods and over the marsh.

Maybe one year we’ll even camp.

Is Presqu’ile Provincial Park Dog-friendly?

Yes, for the most part Presqu’ile Provincial Park is dog-friendly. There are many trails ranging in length you can take your leashed dog along, and the road into the park makes it easy to drive in and pull over near the trail entrances or a picnic table if you’ve brought your own food. Anywhere along the shoreline is a great spot to lunch with your pup … just don’t go on the beach.

Prequ’ile Provincial Park loses a few dog-friendly points in my book because dogs are not allowed on the 2.5 km of beaches at any time. Prequ’ile Park is a bird migration route – in fact, 130 species of birds are recorded to nest here. Any park that’s heavily bird focused, or popular with birders such as Point Pelee Provincial Park (see here), has some reservations about dogs … especially a high-energy bird dog like mine.

However, Prequ’ile makes up for the ‘no dogs on the beach’ rule in two ways:

  • First, allowing dogs to swim along the rock shoreline in the day use area and campgrounds.
  • Second, the boardwalk.

The one-kilometer-long boardwalk over migrating bird desirable wetlands is a great walk for your dog, and you’ll likely meet many others. Just bring some water for your pup – see suggestions here – because you don’t want them drinking out of the marsh.

A note about lunch too – take your garbage with you (if you buy take out like we did) or bring food in reusable containers. Garbage is a big problem in this popular park and not only litter – bins fill up faster than staff can empty them, so give them a hand and reduce, reuse, or dispose of your garbage elsewhere.

White and black Sprocker puppy

If you go…. Facts about dog-friendly Presqu’ile Provincial Park

  1. Presqu’ile is French for peninsula, and yes, the 9.4 km square park located in Brighton, Ontario, is a peninsula.
  2. The very popular park is open for day use all year from 8 am to 10 pm, seven days a week, and for camping April to October.
  3. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park, but not on beaches. Unfortunately, there is no off leash or dog exercise area.
  4. The park has 300 car camping sites, that reserve quickly in the summer, 16 km of walking trails, and 1 km long boardwalk over wetlands.
  5. A migration route for waterfowl and other birds, there are at least 130 species of avian nest at the park.
  6. A highlight is the second oldest lighthouse in Ontario and accompanying interpretive centre.

Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for decades and travel writer for the last two. She’s a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America, and travels almost weekly with her canine companion, Victoria.

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