Today’s post comes from Summer Stevenson, Discovery Program Leader at Blue Lake Provincial Park.
Where the heck is Blue Lake Provincial Park?
The dots mark the approximate locations of Charleston Lake and Blue Lake Provincial Park.
I know I had the same thought in my head when I took the leap and applied for the Discovery Program Leader position at Blue Lake two years ago.
I grew up on Charleston Lake in southeastern Ontario and spent six seasons working in Charleston Lake Provincial Park.
Despite being very familiar with Ontario’s parks, I had no idea what to expect when I left the diverse broadleaf forest of the Frontenac Arch and headed 21 hours north to Blue Lake Provincial Park.
All packed and ready to go! I even managed to get my bike into the car.
Different, but wonderful
Blue Lake is located on the Trans Canada Highway, 4.5 hours northwest of Thunder Bay and 3.5 hours east of Winnipeg. It is in the transition zone between the boreal forest and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest.
The Beech Woods Trail in Charleston Lake Provincial Park. Observe the fallen deciduous leaves and the forest canopy.
While there are a few things here that might remind a southern Ontarian of home, like the white birch or the occasional snapping turtle, the difference between the regions is striking.
In the boreal forest, coniferous trees such as Jack Pine and Black Spruce dominate the landscape with musk and sphagnum wetlands scattered throughout.
Views from Rock Point Trail in Blue Lake Provincial Park. Look at the moss covering the forest floor!
Despite these differences, I didn’t feel homesick for a long time. When I began exploring Blue Lake and its surroundings, I fell in love with the almost endless amount of water, trees, and large rocks. When I came across my first pile of moose scat, I was hooked (what can I say, I’m a park naturalist!).
I haven’t been back to southern Ontario since and have no plans to. Northwestern Ontario captured my heart and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to live and work in this area.
Here I am in my natural habitat on the Spruce Fen Trail (Tilley’s hat is always included)!
I think everyone should experience this part of the province! Here are five reasons why I did and why you too will fall in love with Blue Lake Provincial Park.
1. Crystal clear waters
Whether you’re watching the waves, taking a dip, or paddling out, the crystal-clear waters of the Blue Lake are sure to blow you away.
Blue Lake is a spring-fed remnant glacial lake, which means it’s deep and cold, perfect for a hot summer day. The bottom is covered in rocks and sand with very little weeds or aquatic plants, making it the ideal spot for those who enjoy a plant-free swim.
2. Beautiful sandy beach
Blue Lake’s natural sand beach is over 800 meters long! There are trees scattered along the beach providing shade for visitors, open areas for those who like the sun, three children’s play areas, plenty of picnic tables and benches, AND a picnic shelter that you can even reserve in advance.
Canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals are also located on the beach for easy access to the water.
3. Spruce Fen Trail
As soon as you set foot on the Spruce Fen Trail boardwalk (1km loop), you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world. There’s a reason this is the most well-known trail in the park – it has something for everyone!
Whether you’re looking for unique plants, the perfect Instagram post, taking a morning walk with your dog, or looking for an accessible trail that meets your family’s diverse needs, Spruce Fen is the place to be.
This trail also connects you to the Rock Point (4 km) and Goblin Lake (11 km) trails that showcase the rugged landscape of the Canadian Shield and our transitional forest area.
4. The sunsets
There’s a reason they call northwestern Ontario “sunset country.” Some of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen have been at Blue Lake.
At the height of the summer equinox, the sun sets on Blue Lake around 9:30 p.m., moving ahead a few minutes each night as the months go by. At the end of August, the sun sets around 8:00 p.m.
Grab a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy the view every night of the week from the beach.
5. Friendly staff
You’re guaranteed to find a smiling face when you spend the day at Blue Lake Provincial Park. We have a small team that works incredibly hard to make everyone’s experience as pleasant as possible.
Without the support of my team members, the transition to living in the north would have been much more difficult. From our maintenance staff to our door attendants to our Discovery Rangers, the staff at Blue Lake is some of the friendliest around!
I hope you are inspired to add this northern park to your list of Ontario parks. See you soon!