Exploring the National Parks of Southern Ontario

Blog #3: Georgian Bay Islands National Park

Although Georgian Bay Islands National Park (GBINP) is our smallest national park (approximately 14 square kilometres), it has many striking features including a fascinating human history, beautiful rocky landscapes, an incredible diversity of reptiles and amphibians along with an excellent network of trails on Beausoleil Island.

Created in 1929, GBINP stretches approximately 50 kilometres along the eastern shore of Georgian Bay. The water access only park consists of numerous islands and shoals along with a small land base in Honey Harbour. By far the largest island in the park is Beausoleil Island. Designated a national historic site of Canada in 2009, Beausoleil Island is approximately eight kilometres long and a kilometre and a half wide. This island was home to Aboriginal Peoples for thousands of years. Artefacts found on Beausoleil Island date back as far as 7,000 years ago.

Today the island features an extraordinary trail system offering more than 35 kilometres of footpaths along with numerous campgrounds, docks, picnic areas and beaches. Beausoleil Island is the only island in the park where you are allowed to camp. If you don’t have a boat you can access this island aboard the park’s shuttle boat DayTripper.


An interesting hike is taking the Huron Trail at the southern part of the island north to the Rockview and Fairy trails in the northern part of Beausoleil Island. The southern part of the island features deep soils that allow oak, beech and maple trees to thrive while the northern end features the iconic bent pines living on rocky landscapes. Another nice hike is the Fairy Trail which takes you around Fairy and Goblin lakes at the island’s north end.

For those who enjoy wildlife, GBINP is home to 33 species of reptiles and amphibians along with approximately 800 species of plants. Reptiles who we had the pleasure of meeting on our travels included an eastern hog-nosed snake as well as four eastern massasauga rattlesnakes Parks Canada relocated. Some of the mammals residing in and around the park include beavers, minks, black bears, fishers and coyotes.

Park website:  www.parkscanada.gc.ca/gbi

Click here to see a slideshow of full-size images from this page.

Photos © Lynn and Glenn Perrett

N. Glenn Perrett is a writer and environmentalist whose book Southern Ontario's National Parks has just been published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

Go to the Exploring the National Parks of Southern Ontario blog home page


Click here to post a response to this blog

Click here to see  Blog #2: Bruce Peninsula National Park & Fathom Five National Marine Park

Next Blog: Rouge National Urban Park

Subscribe to the Exploring the National Parks of Southern Ontario blog

* indicates required