Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Georgian Bay Islands National Park is one of six national parks in Ontario created to protect significant land and marine habitats, as well as key geological and cultural sites.
Ontario’s greatest asset may be its incomparable and seemingly endless freshwater lakes, rivers, streams and tributaries. Georgian Bay is a perfect example: exposed Canadian Shield granite bedrock and windswept pines frame the stunning turquoise and emerald hues of the lake that seamlessly blends into the blue sky above. Rocky islands like gems are scattered across the aquascape, resulting in the largest freshwater archipelago in the world.
Established in 1929, Georgian Bay Islands National Park represents approximately 13.5sq km of federally protected and preserved area within Georgian Bay just off the coast from Honey Harbour and north of Port Severn. This natural, boat-access preserve is part of the larger UNESCO designated Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, and it includes over 60 islands.
Beausoleil Island is the largest island in the park and features nine separate tent-only campgrounds on the eastern and north shoreline. Rough it at ‘primitive’ sites or select a serviced site at Cedar Spring Campground in the southeast corner of the island, with flush toilets, showers, drinking water and wheelchair accessible camping sites. Or opt for one of 10 rustic waterfront cabins that contain basic comforts like beds, table and chairs, cooking gear and lights. Boat transportation from Honey Harbour can also be arranged. Six cabins are located at Cedar Spring and the other four are hike-in only at Christian Beach on the western shore, nestled under the cedars overlooking the lake.
Whether you are visiting for the day or setting up camp, there’s an excellent network of trails on Beausoleil to explore. Hike or cycle through the forest and climb to designated viewpoint sites to take in the spectacular vistas and shorelines below.
Overnight and day docking is available at the drop off dock at Cedar Spring, along with mountain bike rentals, picnic areas and rest shelters and interpretive programs at the Visitor Centre.
The DayTripper is a 15-minute shuttle boat cruise to Beausoleil Island for half day park visitors. You’ll need to reserve in advance, and the service is offered seasonally between the Victoria Day weekend in May and Thanksgiving in October.
Full day and overnight campers will need to travel in their own boat or hire a water taxi from Honey Harbour. Water craft transportation is included in the cabin rentals.
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More about Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Whether you travel by personal watercraft, ride the DayTripper, hire a water taxi or paddle a kayak or canoe to Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay Islands National Park, it’s well worth the journey.
Researchers have discovered evidence of Indigenous settlements on Georgian Bay Islands that trace back to over 7,000 years ago. More recently, Indigenous Algonkian, Wendat and Ojibwa people have called the islands home.
Follow in their footsteps as you explore the many trails that cover Beausoleil Island. The north end features rocky terrain mixed with wetlands that support amphibians, turtles and snakes, including the rare eastern Massasauga rattlesnake. You may also see colonies of nesting gulls and terns. Further south, the trails meander through mixed forest to beaches, lighthouses and lookout points. Make sure you set out with a trail map and plenty of water.
Combine mountain biking and hiking on your adventure. The Huron, Christian and Georgian trails all permit cycling, so you can ride to additional hike-only trails and continue on foot. Note that the DayTripper ferry is a people mover only and doesn’t allow recreational equipment like bicycles, but you can rent your wheels from the visitor centre at Cedar Spring.
Naturally the paddling adventure is off the charts in Georgian Bay Islands National Park. There are a few portages in the north end of the island. And even if you don’t opt for a canoe or kayak, you can always enjoy this freshwater paradise by diving in for a refreshing swim.
Last updated: August 18, 2023