Sometimes you have to go chasing waterfalls… especially if it’s easy.
At Chutes Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, it’s easy – and dog-friendly.
Located one kilometre off Highway #17 in Massey, Ontario, it’s the best provincial park between Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie, and the best stop if you’re travelling to either city from Toronto.
Provincial parks are my new road-trip stops, and I’m factoring in travel time to do visit them this summer.
First, my dog Victor is getting older and needs more time out of the car. Frankly, so do I. On a recent road trip north from Toronto to Sault St. Marie, we took time to check out Chutes parks. If I’m in the area again, I’d like to camp. (If I ever camp again – check out our Pancake Bay experience).
Second, I’ve got an annual day-use pass (thanks to Ontario Parks) and will be checking out as many as possible this summer. Let’s declare this the summer of Ontario Parks discovery. (Day-use passes cost $175 for the year or $125 for the summer per car. Worth it!).
Chutes has ALL the components to make this a memorable dog experience:
- a dog swim area
- six kilometres of walking trails
- a fenced-in leash-free (whoot!) wooded park filled with trees to smell and a picnic table for me to sit and enjoy a packed lunched while Victor stretched, stiffed and explored
Where the dog can’t go is the beach along the base of the waterfall rapids – which makes sense because it’s the favourite bathing pool of people and under tow can easily pull small dogs in.
Speaking of waterfalls – there’s a wide winding one complete with viewing platform. An easy gravel trail takes you to the platform stairs. Or you can drive almost all the way there. (Yup).
The dog-run and picnic area are in the day-use zone. Otherwise, Chutes park has 130 campsites, two with RV pull-throughs, no roofed accommodations (some are now dog-friendly at provincial parks), a comfort station with five showers and two bathrooms with flush toilets.
The waterfall alone is worth the stop, though the dog will appreciate a leash-free stretch.
The next stop – heading north along Highway 69 – is French River Provincial Park primarily a day-use only site offering a visitor’s centre with museum, four kilometres of moderate walking trails and picnic tables.
Camping is first-come first serve back-country camping (230 sites) mostly used by birders and those paddling the river. The area is adjacent to a 105-kilometre canoe route once traveled by Indigenous people, French explorers and Voyageurs.
No dog exercise area at French River, unfortunately.
BONUS! Free park admission on July 19, 2019
Ontario Parks’ annual Healthy Parks Healthy People happens on July 19, 2019 – ALL provincial parks are offering free day-use to promote the many health benefits that come with being in nature … even better with your dog.