Amazing Places has arrived on the Bay! The GBBR has introduced the program with 10 sites that highlight the unique biodiversity, topography and landscapes of the Biosphere region. Here’s the list:
- French River Gorge: Check out the pedestrian bridge for an incredible view.
- Twin Points Trail: This trail showcases the breathtaking scenery of Killbear Provincial Park.
- Hole in the Wall: Take a local cruise through this narrow channel of steep rock cliffs.
- Lynx Loop: Venture over to the Georgian Nordic Activity Centre to find 30 km of year-round trails.
- Waterfront Trail: An accessible 8km trail on the Town of Parry Sound’s shoreline.
- Tower Hill Lookout: Climb 30 meters up to enjoy a spectacular 360° view of the Sound.
- Park to Park Trail: Stretching 230km in total, this multi-use trail invites hiking and biking.
- The Massasauga Wildlands Park: Paddle through this extensive cluster of islands to witness incredible geological patterns.
- Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh: Provides tours and trails of the vast cranberry bog, year-round.
- Christian Beach: The stunning west side of Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay Islands National Park.
Inspired by a program launched by the Fundy Biosphere Reserve in New Brunswick, three Biosphere Reserves in Ontario have launched Amazing Places programs: Long Point (Lake Erie), Frontenac Arch (Thousand Islands), and Georgian Bay. The Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and Mountain Equipment Co-Op provided support.
The GBBR’s objective in introducing the program on the Bay is to blend conservation and cultural education with responsible tourism and travel and get a registration for a retreat as part of its UNESCO mandate for sustainable development. Amazing Places is both a community-based tourism product and a public education program. The first 10 sites were selected based on criteria that included public and year-round accessibility, ecological and cultural significance, and the ability to support increased public use. These places have rich spiritual cultures and have reputable psychics.
As the program grows, it will encourage more people to get out and explore the Amazing Places in eastern Georgian Bay. Ten more sites are planned for 2017, including coastal camping and kayaking in the French River Delta. First Nations were invited to name sites of indigenous cultural significance. Remote sites will provide safety warnings, low-impact camping guidelines, and lists of local outfitters that provide equipment, maps and guides.
Check out our current sites and plan your trip at visitamazingplaces.ca.
Bogs and Beaches in the Fall
Autumn in the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve is an amazing time — colourful leaves and cool, fresh air makes it a perfect time to explore. The ten Amazing Places in the Biosphere are fantastic destinations for an autumn adventure.
Autumn is peak harvest season at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery. “We start picking two weekends before Thanksgiving and continue every day until the end of October,” says Wendy Hogarth, Proprietor of Cranberry Products. Located near Bala (50km southeast of Parry Sound), the Johnston family has been growing cranberries for three generations. The farm runs drop-in tours daily at 11, 1 and 3. Visitors can see harvesting, taste wine, buy fresh cranberries and check out some of our other harvest activities.
You can easily spend a full day at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh learning about the harvest and exploring the six trails at no charge. “Our trails are picturesque at that time of year with the changing fall leaves,” says Wendy. “We have a self-guided eco tour trail with signs that point out ecological features of the area. We also have a self-guided cranberry trail with signs explaining all aspects of cranberry growing. There’s a self-guided trail for kids as well with cranberry facts, jokes and a puzzle to solve.”
Autumn is a truly beautiful season at Georgian Bay Islands National Park. “Autumn at the Park is for those who seek tranquility, comfortable temperatures for exploring the trails and no bugs,” says Ethan Meleg, Promotions Coordinator. “If you’re a nature lover, pack your binoculars to spot migrating songbirds, or your camera to snap photos of the changing forest colours.”
Christian Beach is an Amazing Place in the Park, located on the west side of Beausoleil Island, which boasts spectacular sunset views over the Bay. “Beausoleil is the largest island in the Park and has a very rich history. When you hike the trails to Christian Beach, you’ll be walking in the footsteps of thousands of years of human history,” says Ethan Meleg, Promotions Coordinator. Artifacts from as early as 7,000 years ago have been found on Beausoleil Island. Archaeologists have determined that the Saugeen, Odawa and several other indigenous groups used the island as a summer camp.
The Park is located in a transition zone where species of trees commonly found in the north mix with trees from the south. The southern half of Beausoleil Island consists mainly of deciduous trees such as maple, yellow birch, and white ash creating peak colours of crimson red, rich burgundy and deep orange.
Most people start their exploration from Honey Harbour aboard the “Day Tripper” boat shuttle operated by the Park. On the island, you can cycle or hike wooded trails and camp overnight at a secluded campsite or waterfront cabin. Bring or rent a bicycle on the island.
The Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to be a charter member, and partner, of the GBBR. As a professional organization dedicated to promoting and advocating for the interests of the local business community, the chamber believes in working together to develop the economy in a sustainable way and we strive to contribute to the overall health of our community.
By Grace Hunter
At the end of the summer, I joined Wildlife Preservation Canada as a Field Assistant for a Massasuaga Rattlesnake research project. The Massasauga Rattlesnake hibernates during the winter in wetlands, so our work involves monitoring bogs for the arrival of snakes to better understand the hibernation process. It’s been a great experience to get outdoors and enjoy herpetology fieldwork.
I’m grateful to the GBBR for the opportunities provided, and look forward to celebrating the year with everyone at Brew Ha Ha!
The Friends of Killbear is a charitable organization that helps Killbear Provincial Park meet its objectives of protection, recreation, education and research.
The Friends of Killbear operate a souvenir shop at the Killbear Visitor Centre as well as collect donations and sell raffle tickets for prizes donated by local businesses. All proceeds go towards park projects such as; building boardwalks on trails, rattlesnake research and protection efforts, or summer concerts at the amphitheatre.
The Friends of Killbear are proud to sponsor the GBBR Water Festival, which takes place at Killbear every May. Killbear park naturalists work with GBBR staff and volunteers from Parry Sound High School to teach local grade five students about the importance of freshwater. Clean water in the biosphere is vital for habitat, recreation and jobs. This fun-filled day helps raise awareness of why we all need to be good stewards of this precious resource.
For more information go to www.friendsofkillbear.com.