Take your dog to Grundy Lake Provincial Park (in Bear Country)

poster of Grundy Lake promoting dog-friendly Grundy Lake with small image of white and black dog

About one hour south of Sudbury, but a little further north than many Toronto area park seekers venture, is Grundy Lake Provincial Park. Which is perfect, because dog-friendly Grundy Lake was the quiet road trip break my dog and I needed while travelling along Highway 400 in Ontario, Canada.

Yes, there is a very small dog beach at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, more specifically it’s called an ‘off-leash exercise area,’ and it’s the only place in the park dogs can be off-leash. There are good reasons for that, none the least of which is this is bear country … but more on that soon. Because my bird dog has the recall of a … well, an untrained bird dog, I didn’t take her off-leash, but I did let her explore the exercise area on a long line.

Pet Exercise Area at Grundy Lake Provincial Park

The pet exercise area at Grundy Lake Provincial Park is at the far corner of the conservation, near the Beaver Dam Trail, which is a good thing because it’s quiet and less travelled. If you camp here, I’d recommend a site in the nearby dog-permitted Balsam campgrounds for the same reason.

However, that didn’t mean we didn’t encounter anyone.

Fishing is a big thing here. One guy pulled up too fast (the speed limit is 20 km/h) in a car near the dog ‘beach’ surprised to see my dog and me there as he drove around a blind curve and parked. He then immediately walked over to the water and dipped a net into Clear Lake, home of Northern Pike, Panfish, and Bass. I didn’t see him catch anything, but if all you need is a net, I’m assuming this is a dream fishing spot. That he was apparently in a hurry to get to.

Advantages of Ontario Parks Annual Pass

Grundy Park is a very short drive from the main highway – and provincial parks are one of my favourite places to scheduled stops on a road trip and let my dog enjoy the journey. Parks Ontario offers a seasonal pass that gives you unlimited day access to all of the province’s provincial parks, which makes it well worth the investment.

Thanks to our Ontario Parks seasonal pass, we stopped at four provincial parks on this summer road trip alone, and my pup loved each and every stop. For solo travellers, stopping at dog-friendly conservation areas and parks is a good way to ‘bathroom break’ for both of you without having to leave your dog in the car or tied up.

The serenity of this park made Grundy Lake Provincial Park one of my favourite stops.

Here’s what Grundy Lake Provincial Park offers travellers:

  • 1000 hectares of forested land
  • 30 lakes and therefore many beaches. However, dogs are only allowed on one and it’s a stretch to call it a beach. (The website says there are two dog beaches, but I only found one and there’s only one on the map).
  • Water activities including canoeing, kayaking, and swimming are popular here – paddle to your heart’s content, especially if your dog will stay in the boat
  • 10 km of trails ranging from easy to challenging – Gut Lake Trail offers views of – you guessed it – the lake and the Granite Ridge Trail, true to name, is steep in places ending up on top of ancient granite rock formations.
  • If you’re here for a short time, the 1.5 km Swan Lake Trail with a boardwalk through wetlands is your best option.
  • Cycling is permitted on the Pakeshkag Lake Trail but no other trails.
  • 400 Campsites for both tents and RVs, but not all permit pets
  • Guided one-hour hikes
  • A less crowded quiet and serene environment

Fun fact: 2023 is the 10th anniversary of the Grundy Lake Turtle Monitoring Project. The turtle population in Ontario is declining due to road building and habitat loss. Ontario Parks staff, volunteers, and college students have been monitoring the turtle population at Grundy Lake Park, measuring, weighing, and inspecting turtles for injuries – and identifying, covering, and protecting nests in an attempt to increase turtle hatchings.

Visitors can participate in the program by first respecting turtle nesting areas, reporting turtle sightings, and taking photos of turtles they see and sharing them with staff. Taking photos of turtles (without interfering with them) is encouraged. Bears, not so much.

9 Things to know about Black Bears (especially with the dog)

Yes, Grundy Lake is in bear country, meaning black bears make their home here and have been for centuries. In fact, ninety percent of Ontario Provincial Parks are located in areas where bears make their homes. The best way to keep both bears and humans safe is to keep the populations apart – it’s essential that bears retain a healthy fear of humans and don’t associate them with available food.

According to the Ontario Provincial Parks, here’s what you should do if you encounter a bear:

american black bear in close up shot
Photo by Aaron J Hill on Pexels.com
  1. Do not run. Do not climb a tree. Do not swim. Do not panic.
  2. If the bear is in a tree, slowly leave the area quietly.
  3. If the bear is on the ground and hasn’t noticed you, slowly back away keeping the bear in your sight.
  4. If you encounter a bear that notices you, stand tall, wave your arms, make noise, use an air horn, or throw stones if the bear still does not leave. Do not follow or run.
  5. Dogs must be leashed. Even if your dog has good recall, a bear will likely chase your dog back to you. Or, if a dog confronts a bear, it never ends well for the dog.
  6. Remove your dog quickly from any area where there’s been a bear sighting.
  7. Never surprise a bear or stop to take photos, especially while they are eating.
  8. Bears will not interact with people IF no visitors or campers provide a food source. At campgrounds, all food (including pet food) must be stored in hard-sided trailers or cars, day and night.
  9. All garbage must be disposed of in secure metal receptacles provided at the park, or bring it home with you.

For the record, we didn’t encounter any bears that we noticed. My dog was far more interested in birds. Frankly, a bigger risk was some of the drivers going too fast along paths and blind corners around the park.

If you go to dog-friendly Grundy Provincial Park ….

Grundy Provincial Park, 2044 Highway 522, Britt, Ontario. Open seasonally from May to October. One small dog exercise area (that I found). 400 campsites but not all are pet-friendly. One roofed accommodation, but it’s not pet-friendly.

Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for decades and a 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. All written content is original, written by a person, and based on experience and research.


  1. It’s a very populated camp ground – I didn’t see any bears but I didn’t venture into back country.

  2. Sandy Weinstein · · Reply

    i would not go anywhere if there were any bears around. I would be scared the bear would attack and go after my dog. looks like a beautiful setting.

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