French River Provincial Park

French River Provincial Park

French River Provincial Park
4.5

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.


4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles55 reviews
Excellent
35
Very good
17
Average
2
Poor
0
Terrible
1

theoljohnnyboy
New Florence, PA1,535 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023
Our experience with the park is kind of limited as we just did the trail to recollect falls and toured the visitors center. The park is easily accessible from the highway and the visitors center is new and beautiful. The hike to recollect falls took us about 70 minutes round trip, had a lot of up and down and roots and rocks. It was a brisk pace to do it in 70 minutes. We saw two small snakes on the hike, neither were rattlers fortunately. While it is a pretty park, it is common in scenery to what you will find across the Canadian shield. It is nice to be able to walk down right beside the falls. The bugs were very much a nuisance buzzing around our ears and faces but seemed less than interested in biting us.
Written July 22, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

RickandDenise9
St. Catharines, Canada129 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021 • Family
The hike to Recollet Falls is terrific. The view is amazing. The hike is moderate but you need good foot wear as your fitting is challenged. If you fish, bring a rod.
Written July 23, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

CrazyKphotography
Toronto, Canada490 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020
This Provincial Park has lots to see. It does have signs for Massasauga Rattlesnakes but we walked through here for 5 km and didn't see or hear any! There is a Snowmobile Bridge that you can see from the highway and you can walk across. There is also a beautiful (they call a waterfall) but more like a chute or cascade that is very large. You do have to climb and walk over uneven twigs and rocks and a fallen down tree on your way to the Recollet falls.
Written August 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Emma S
1 contribution
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020 • Friends
Very good other than you need to watch out for a rattlesnake around the area of 717, snake rattled at us and needs to be removed!!!!!
Written August 9, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Canadian_Guy1000
Mississauga, Canada3,418 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020
I discovered this beautiful region of Ontario in 1995 and since then I have frequently been coming back to canoe, camp, fish and just enjoy its extraordinary scenery and serenity.

My last trip (July, 2018) was not really that pleasant—it was very hot & humid, fire ban was in effect, hordes of mosquitoes mercilessly attacked us every evening, and to add insult to injury, we were eventually forced to immediately evacuate from the park due to the raging forest fire (“Parry Sound 33”) which ultimately destroyed 11 thousands hectares. Obviously, I hoped that this trip would turn out a little better.

We departed from Hartley Bay Marina on July 28, 2020. Because of COVID-19, no valet parking was offered. I also found out that Mr. Mike Palmer, the marina’s owner, had passed away in February, 2020.

After 30 minutes of paddling, we reached Wanapitei Bay and checked out a few vacant campsites on its east shore (#612 & #613). They were OK, but we decided to cross the bay and take a look at other campsites on the opposite shore. The campsites at the ‘intersection’ of Main & Western Channels (#617 & #618) were occupied, campsite #616 was nice, but required a short hike up a steep rocky hill and campsite #611, which I had wanted to camp on in the past, also was occupied. Finally we found a somehow secluded cove/inlet with two campsites and one of them appeared to be very pleasant, with plenty of space for tents, a spot to set up a tarp in case of rain, cool rock formations and four (!) fire pits. The campsite also offered a nice view on the inlet’s rocky shores and islands on Wanapitei Bay with two vacant cottages (since 70% of all cottages on the French River are owned by Americans—who cannot cross the border due to the corona virus—many cottages were unoccupied.). The campsite also made a good fishing spot.

There was a ‘thunderbox’ (a.k.a. a toilet) back in the forest, yet I noticed that not all previous campers had used it—there were pieces of toilet paper scattered all over the campsite. I do not understand why some people are so inconsiderate and not only aren’t they using the latrine, but cannot even pick up after themselves. There was some glass here and there and semi-burned beer cans in the fire pits. By the way, we did not bring any glass containers and religiously collected all the garbage/recyclables, which we took back to Hartley Bay Marina.

We spent almost one hour setting up three contraptions to hang our food containers and the coolers. I again came to appreciate the bear-proof bins, provided in the Massasauga Provincial Park! Before going to sleep and each time we were absent from the campsite, we consistently hanged the food barrel and our coolers, but no animal ever attempted to steal our food.

Our campsite—along with 10 others—was located on Boom Island (approximately 4.5 x 3 km). The island’s west and north shores were surrounded by the Wanapitei River. For some reasons I had never had an opportunity to explore this part of the park, so one day we departed before noon, headed south, turned right into Western Channel and then north just before Attwood Island. Near the mouth of the river we admired a large beaver lodge. Even though we were paddling against the current, it was hardly noticeable. Around the Forks we caught a pike—several minutes later we found a perfect picnic spot on a rock, cleaned & fried the fish and enjoyed a tasty shore lunch. We proceeded north, until we reached the chutes (Sturgeon Chutes). There were 3 campsites (#604, #605 & #606), but I would not like to stay on them for more than one night—two pontoon boats were docked there and a bunch of people were enjoying their day-trip there as well as several fishermen tried their luck around the chutes. In addition, a 240 m portage was very close to the campsites. After taking several photos and paddling as close to the chutes as possible, we started heading back to the campsite. At the Forks we made a left turn. We passed one campsite on the right (#603) and as we reached Kentucky Club Island, we made a sharp right turn and now headed along the eastern shore of Boom Island, passing several campsites. I stopped in front of campsite #609 and took a few photos: I had camped on this very campsite in 2015 and on a daily basis enjoyed the company of 4 black bears—one of them had eventually caused a lot of damage to some of our supplies. Well, this year we did not see any bears, supposedly the blueberries were plentiful and bears were not interested in devouring campers… I mean, campers’ food! Overall, we covered a distance of 23 km.

Just meters from our campsite was a small lake. Upon a closer examination, I realized it was a beaver pond, separated from the French River by a solid beaver dam. It was too good an opportunity to pass—we carried the canoe over the dam and spent almost 2 hours paddling on this enchanted pond! There were several beaver lodges, plenty of dead trees and stumps sticking out form the water which was mostly covered by water lily leaves and flowers. At one point we saw a magnificent Blue Heron—it splendidly flew off and gracefully landed nearby on a tree’s branch. We did not see any beavers, but at night we heard splashing sounds coming from the beaver pond as well as mysterious thuds, resembling a woodpecker pecking at trees.

One day we went on a hike in the bush behind the campsite, navigating among fallen, dead and rotting trees, thick undergrowth and many rocks. We had to watch each step and overall covered just 2 km in as many hours. Considering that literally all the trees had been logged in the area some 150 years ago and the current forest was relatively pretty young, I could only imagine how difficult—well, basically impossible—it was to traverse in the forest before that time! That was why rivers, especially the French River, were the only possible routes to explore the new country with a relative ease. During our short sally we did not spot any animals save for a small garter snake. We saw plenty of deer (or moose) droppings, but no bears’. Blueberry bushes were abundant, but I guess the blueberry season was almost over—besides, it was very dry and whatever berries we did find were tiny.

The only animals we saw on or around the campsite were ubiquitous sea gulls, green frogs, a chipmunk, a busy squirrel, a large garter snake that I found in my tent’s vestibule and a bunch of snapping turtles, emerging from the water and hoping to get some of our food. As we were paddling towards campsite #616, we saw a family of minks frolicking on the rocky shore. But we were in for a special treat the last day, while heading back to Hartley Bay Marina—we saw a Bald Eagle flying just above our canoe, its distinct white head clearly visible.

Since it was very warm, yet not too humid, we liked the weather—at least there was no fire ban. It rained on a couple of occasions, including the whole Sunday. We spent most of that rainy day sitting under the tarp, drinking hot tea and reading books—I managed to finish John Grisham’s “The Rooster Bar”, which was a perfect camping book—light, but not too dumb.

Miraculously, there were VERY FEW mosquitoes! They became active at about 9:15 pm and were mostly gone at 10 pm. One evening, when it became cooler than usual, we did not even have to apply any bug spray, as there were hardly any mosquitos. Upon coming come, I discovered one black fly bite—although the black fly season ‘officially’ should be over at the beginning of July, it’s still possible to encounter black flies in August and September.

Almost every day we caught a fish or two (bass & pike), enough for ample dinner or lunch. Nevertheless, I was disappointed with fishing: it was the first time on the French River that it took me more than one hour to catch a fish (sometimes considerably longer) and despite our persistent casting and trolling in ‘our’ cove and other parts of the river, neither of us succeeded in catching even one fish on Saturday and Sunday. We did not see any fish jumping out of the water either. The campers at the adjacent campsite were fishing from shore and from their canoe, but did not catch anything.

Last, but not least—my canoe, purchased at the Grundy Lake Supply Post in 2010, just turned 10 years old and it has been one of the best investments I have ever made!

It was a very relaxing trip. For me, French River Provincial Park has always been and will remain a very unique place.
Written August 8, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Samantha C
Montreal, Canada36 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2020
Though the Visitor Center is closed this year, we were able to park nearby and still do the trail leading to the Recollet Falls, which was beautiful. Signs at the trail head do warn about Poison Ivy of which there is some on the trail. It took about 2h round trip and was worth a stop on our trip!
Written August 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Outdoor enthusiast
1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2019 • Family
We stopped at the visitors center on our way south, grabbing a quick lunch on the patio. 3 hours later we’d visited a waterfall, seen several snakes, and found the shopping hard to resist. Thanks to the staff for helping us identify plants and animals we saw on our hike!
Written August 28, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DL0Z
Cairo, Egypt7 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2018 • Family
Took my family for their first-ever canoe trip. Went with three children ages 8 to 13. Left Hartley Bay Marina late on a Friday. We quickly paddle to the first available campsite. We were the only paddlers and the campsite was large and private. At this point in the Provincial Park there is still a lot of boat traffic and we were across from cottages. I could hear a garage band practicing which I didn't mind. What was annoying was the train blowing the whistle as it passed Hartley Bay Marina at 2 in the morning. In the morning we headed off to what I was expecting would be a 3 hour paddle to the Elbow. In Hartley Bay the waters were very calm and there was no wind unfortunately Within an hour we had a stiff headwind and what I was expecting to be a 3-hour paddle turned into 6 hours. After the first hour we did not see anyone else but the occasional Cottage. We arrived to the Elbow exhausted and set up at the beach campsite which was about a 10-minute paddle from the Dallas Rapids. Original plan whas to do the figure eight Loop but I had to do a quick reassessment of everybody's paddling abilities and decided to stay at our campsite at the elbow and just explore the French River and its inlets from that point. This was at the end of July and water levels were very very low and we were able to shoot through the Dallas Rapids without any problems. There were only two small Rapids. I would not recommend this if water levels were higher. There is a 340 m portage that you can use over some rocky ground. At lunch time we decided to head back to our campsite at this point we saw other paddlers. Within a 15-minute period We saw three groups of paddlers. This was the only time that we saw individuals except when we returned back home and were within about half an hour of Hartley Bay Marina. Unfortunately, it rain for the rest of the afternoon and we were in our tents. On the return trip home the weather had changed but unfortunately so had the wind and once again we had a stiff headwind to battle , we had another six hour grueling paddle back home. Overall the park is nice, once you get away from the marina. Boat traffic dies down and there are no people. It is an easy place for not so experienced paddlers to learn some backcountry camping skills. The only thing I would change would be to stick to roots with more campsites.
Written September 3, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

dolphindiva66
Burnaby, Canada64 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2018 • Couples
Amazing scenery and put the boats in Hardy Bay Marina for day trips exploring the islands and Georgian Bay. Campsite signs are VERY hard to find, and very few “thunder boxes” are maintained. One island had a “poop point”. More information needs to be provided to campers and day users so they know how to dig a hole for poop and cart out toilet paper and tampon applicators. Come on, people, read up on nature and don’t leave your personal products behind. Sadly a fire ban prevented us from enjoying the fire nights, but choose your company wisely, and hanging out with friends at a campsite can be enlightening. Bring your bug spray and paddle merrily across beautiful scenes of wind-swept trees and boiling rapids. “Attainment” is when you can paddle right up. Good luck, all, and put on those PFDs! One idea for the parks is to charge a flat rate. WIth eight of us on the trip, $160 per night to camp was ridiculous!
Written August 28, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Suzette K
Dundas, Canada6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2018 • Couples
The French River is one of Ontario's most beautiful waterway provincial parks. It is steeped in history, abounding nature, and some of the most beautiful shoreline cliffs imaginable. The cliffs in many areas look like they have been melted, or pushed by a giants hand so they are stacked sideways. The waters are great to swim in, and the campsites clean - keep it that way please. People are friendly and helpful and canoe rentals and maps easy to come by at the French River Supply Post. Really good information here.
Written August 8, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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