The Massasauga Park, which is located in Ontario Canada, is easily one of the most beautiful places you will ever visit. It is also a major destination for Kayakers. This park is not to be confused with the georgian bay island national park, which is located directly south of the Massasauga.
The reason many people who Kayak love Massasauga Park is fairly obvious once you have been there. The amount of back country sites available and the quality of even the ones they have rated as poor, are just amazing. Add to this the fact that wildlife is abundant and that you can choose many different destinations and activities within the park, and most of us are sold!
Massasauga Park Wildlife
The wildlife you will see in the park is abundant and amazing. We recently finished a 4 day trip and during that trip I managed to capture photos of a Great Blue Heron, a Massasauga Rattle Snake, a Water Snake, Small Mouth Bass, and an Amazing Dragonfly. These examples are just the ones I managed to photograph. The wildlife we saw, goes way beyond these five examples. There is so much wildlife in fact, that you would have to have a camera active and ready at every moment of the day.
While wildlife in the park is amazing to watch and view, there are also a few things you need to be aware of. Animals, such as bears, wolves, rattle snakes, etc… can be quite dangerous. The good news is that most of them do not want anything to do with us and if you give them space, they will leave you alone. However, there are couple of rules you need to follow and you must always remember that you are visiting their home and as such, you should treat them with the same respect as you would expect someone to treat you.
Each campsite is equipped with a bear bin and you should always utilize it as you most definitely do not want a bear in your campsite. The bear bins are located far enough away from your campsite that bears will not come into your campsite as long as you are following the rules with storing everything that is food, or has smells, inside the bear bin.
We do not like storing our garbage in the bear bin along with our food and toiletries, so we also use a bear bag to hang our garbage from a tree branch. The bear bag I use has been tested with grizzly bears and while they would pulverize everything inside the bag, they could not get to the contents inside the bag, if tied properly.
Not allowing the bears to get at food or garbage is extremely important. It is not the fact that they would take your food that matters. It is the fact that if bears can get at the food, they will become use to it and will lose their ability to hunt naturally in the wild. While food is abundant in the summers, it is not this way at all in the winters, early sporing, or late fall. and many bears will either starve because they no longer know how to forage or will wind up coming into towns which obviously is not a good thing. So, please respect the bears and allow them to live in their natural environment by being diligent in your use of bear bins, bags, and canisters. Additionally, NEVER EVER EVER KEEP FOOD IN YOUR TENT!
Massasauga Park is home to the Massasauga Rattle Snake. This is Ontario’s only venomous snake. The Massasauga Rattler will not kill a matured human being but it will make them extremely sick. Young children and pets, could very well die from a rattle snake bit, so always watch out for them.
With that said, you do not need to worry that rattle snakes are lying around everywhere and that they will attack you. In fact, they will warn you well before they would ever bite you to get away from them. If you hear a rattle, it means that the snake simply wants you to go away and you should definitely do so.
On our latest trip, we had a visit from a Massasauga Rattler that was pushing close to three feet in length. It was an absolutely beautiful example of it’s species. While this is a larger snake, it was clearly not interested in us as it made no noise and just eventually slithered off, curled up, and went to sleep. One thing to always keep in mind is that a rattle snake can only strike within half the distance of it’s body. So, for example, a three foot snake can only strike you if you are within one and half feet of it. Clearly, we stepped around this fellow.
An interesting fact, that many people may not realize, is that the Massasauga Rattle Snake is found as far south as Michigan. Simply do a web search for massasauga rattlesnake michigan and you will find all kinds of information about our famous rattle snake.
There is really nothing else in the Massasauga Park that presents any possibility of danger, except the deer flies who will much on you as much as possible. lol
However, please always keep in mind that if you are washing dishes, brushing teeth, or performing general cleaning, always dispose of waste water at least seventy feet from any water sources, if possible. If you cannot be at least seventy feet away, please go as far as you can. The reason for this is that the chemicals from our cleaning liquids will seep into the waters otherwise, and will pollute the waters for fish and wildlife.
Scenic Views and Beautiful Landscapes
One of the main reason people visit the park is for the majestic beauty that both the park and Georgian Bay offer. You can Kayak within the islands or venture out into Georgian Bay and the amount of nature you wish to take in, is purely up to you.
With many islands, inlets, bays, streams, ponds, and small lakes to explore, there is no end to the exploration you can have here. We explored many places while on our trip and in addition to the wildlife mentioned above, saw muskrats and beavers along the way. The views and landscapes were endless and it truly did make you wonder what the early explorers of this area must have thought. I, personally, believe they were probably just awestruck with the absolute beauty.
As you can see from the photos above, the areas to Kayak in are endless. A favorite destination for many people is Spider Lake massasauga. Spider Lake can be easily accessed through the Oastler access point as there is only one portage to get to Spider Lake.
Kayaking in the Massasauga Park can be as leisurely or as challenging as you would like to make it. Our trek this time was relatively leisurely but as you can see from the map below, you can also make it into quite the trek. The Kayak routes follow the massasauga canoe routes, which makes sense, so say hello to all the people canoeing out there. The map below will show you all the massasauga provincial park canoe routes, which are also kayaking routes.
We entered at Pete’s place and Kayaked out to Sharpe Island. This was about a two and a half hour paddle. We setup camp, had dinner, and then set out for a nice evening paddle.
The next day, we set out early and paddled out to Wreck Island to take in a hiking trail and learn about the history of Wreck Island. It turns out there is a wreck off the north side of the island that you can see in the shallow waters but the island itself, many believe, is the final resting place for the Waubuno which went down in 1897 taking all of it’s crew and passengers with it. Many of the photos above are from wreck island and you can easily see how this would be a place that many ships would have trouble in during a storm. In fact, the 30,000 some islands within the Georgian Bay have claimed many ships over the years.
On our way back from Wreck Island, we decided to take a circuitous route back that would allow us to explore some of the other inlets, bays, and campsites. We came to the conclusion that there really are no bad campsites in the park.
The next day was when we discovered our resident rattle snake and we lazed around most of the day but headed out to explore some more of the area and found out there were many more streams and entries to small ponds and lakes than we had thought were in the area.
Our final paddle back from Sharpe island to Pete’s Place, we woke up early as we knew there was weather coming in the evening before. We were very fortunate that the weather had not already arrived, so packed up quickly and left camp about 7 AM. As we paddled back back, the storm clouds began to accumulate and some of them were quite ominous. However, we really only encountered one down pour during the paddle back and it was near the end of the paddle.
While this was an easy trip it also allowed us to explore places and see things that we had not seen before. It also allowed us the time to realize that there is literally endless possibilities within this park. This park really is an amazing place, even though Wreck is marked as the amazing place on the map, and we would definitely recommend it to beginner right through to expert paddlers.
I am sure that there will be many more trips to The Massasauga Park for years to come. Please be sure to check it out, you will not be disappointed.