Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I'll raise your Huron with an Inverhuron Provincial Park

Back when we all thought the Blue Jays had a World Series team the last week of June 2013, Bev and I were out camping for a week along lake Huron.  Our first stop was Inverhuron Provincial Park, just north of Kincardine.  The start of camping season for us is always an exciting time when money is just paper and at that time it still was.  And I can remember back in aught 9 when we still had a penny too, but I digress.  On the way to the park, we found Hoity Toity Cellars on Kings Highway 9 just south of Walkerton, where we decided to stock up on some Ciders to enjoy during our trip (made solely with fruit, I asked -- no water involved, if anybody's watching).

No, I'm not getting paid for this plug.
It was just great ciders with unassuming names like '66 Pick-up' and 'Paint the Shed Red'.
Now for any of you out there without young children, the last week of June is one of the best times of the year for camping. The weather is warm enough for swimming (in the twenties most days), most campgrounds are quiet during the week (with students still in school), the beaches, trails and campsites are pristine (freshly cleaned for the season), fishing is good (not yet spooked by a culling), and the staff are all super friendly and helpful (not jaded by the job yet).  You will miss out on the campground programs, which I get so much information out of, but understandably they are usually geared towards children (For example Flashy feathers and bashful birds talk at Bronte Creek or Invasive species talk at Darlington which I'll talk about in future blogs).

And no, I'm not getting paid for this plug.  View of Bruce Nuclear Plant from the trail at Inverhuron
-- couldn't they just put up a big blue curtain?
And now a short history lesson:  Inverhuron opened in 1956 with 351 campsites and offered families a campground with a beautiful beach, hiking and overnight camping and there was much rejoicing. Yah!  Then in 1970 the province of Ontario decided to place Bruce Nuclear power plant on it's northern border. Why not?  I'm sure some people loved watching the construction in the early days but in 1976 concerns rose about the production of heavy water. Eleven percent denser water means more floating, but don't drink more than 50% of your body weight or you'll shuffle off this mortal coil.  And Inverhuron was reduced to a day use park only.  Boo!  Bruce Nuclear stopped producing heavy water in 1998 when they started using enriched uranium.  Yeah?  And overnight camping resumed in 2005 with 125 campsites.  Whew!  Inverhuron is redeveloping and eventually wants to have 250 campsites, new trails, and an amphitheatre.  By my count only 90 more sites and an amphitheatre to go.

The back exit of our site, right onto the trail.  It's not the beach but you can get your feet wet anytime you want.
The sites at this park are excellent when it comes to privacy, other than the gaping hole to the trail.  One can easily solve this problem by putting a tent up to block any looky-loo's or maybe a curtain.  The best sites at Inverhuron were chosen for privacy and not necessarily because of their proximity to the water since there are no sites right on the beach, but 7 and 72 are really close.  The best sites are #7, 27, 68, 72 (the best), 113, 159, and 169.  Bev and I were both pleased with the site we chose and the beach. And here they are in that order.

Site 159, left side.  Obviously after dishes, as our towel racks are full.
AND NOW...
Site 159, right side.  You'll notice we plugged the hole with our sleeping tent and put up a choke wire for any raiders.
The trail right out of the back of 27 of the campsites leads south to the beach which at most could be a kilometre away.  Not crazy convenient, but not Turkey Point.

The beach at Inverhuron and as an added bonus; a boat launch.
Before this trip, I thought lake Huron would be freezing cold at this time of year and I was happily mistaken.  All along the coast of Huron there are sand dunes and because of that there are mini sand dune/bars in the water.  So you go out the first 20 feet and the water is beautifully warm and probably only 3-4 feet deep, then there is a sand bar, then there's another 20 feet of tepid water about 4-5 feet deep, and then another sand bar, then it's swimming time in cool to frigid cold water.  And I guess that's how sand dunes work.  The single hike the campground offers, Scenic Drive Trail (4km) was an easy hike that goes the full distance of the park and could be done by mountain bike if you're into that sort of thing.  As a side note, this was the first time I saw a Yellow Lady's Slipper wild orchid and it made me smile because I have killed/given up on so many orchids in the last few years.

Obviously if this one can live here I'm doing something wrong at home.
All in all this was a good start to the trip.

Site Cleanliness:  Excellent.  This maybe because it was the start of the season, but it still was way above average.

Privacy:  All the sites are trying to be private, but some are succeeding more than others.  There are also a lot of pull through sites which to me was curious.

Hiking and Activities:  Beach and a hike is a little sub-par, but they are trying to improve this with more hikes -- coming soon.

Park Class:  I have to guess historical (because there's not enough recreation, wilderness, area for nature reserve or natural environment, and there isn't a waterway) and the answer is... historical.  There is proof that this area has been used for 4500 years for fishing and hunting by First Nations peoples.

Beach Quality or Ease of Getting to the Water:  Beach quality is very good, but ease to get to the water falls on the poor side.

Recommended Length of Stay:  I'm going to be kind and say 3 days, 2 nights.  If you bring a boat and want to fish then it could be much longer.  I think this is a great relaxation park, but I can't wait to see it in a couple of years.

Overall Impression: Good, but meh.  But hey, it's only been reopened for 8 years.

Rating out of 107:  As much as I'm trying to be nice to Inverhuron it's still has to fall in the 50's so let's give it #56 for the year it opened in all it's glory and hope that it can get back there, so when we are doing MacGregor Point we can pop in for a surprise visit.

Again if you're keeping track:
#2 Algonquin
#3 Quetico
#19 Sandbanks
#21 Neys
#22 Wakami Lake
#23 Nagagamisis
#29 Pancake Bay
#33 Chutes
#56 Inverhuron
#93 Rainbow Falls
#101 Turkey Point

Trying to get a tan, while reading Bob Newhart's autobiography (Thanks Jason Enberg) and carrying around a baby squirrel on my chest.  He was just interested in the nuts.