My husband and I did a weekend canoe trip on the French River for some back country camping. Starting at Hartley Bay Marina, we did what they call the figure 8: we paddled down the French River to the Georgian Bay and back up the River. It is about 40 km of paddling with one portage and a tramway to pull your canoe through.
What was great about the trip is that we could take differnt routes going down and coming up the River, so that we barely covered the same water twice. The scenery was beautiful and it was nice to have the variety between the French River and the Georgian Bay.
Make sure you pack bug spray; this time of year the bugs are bad, but worth it. We didn't encounter too many motorboats so the water was crystal clear and smooth most of the trip (a little windy in the Georgian Bay one day). Campsites were well maintained and the Park was not crowded at all so we got both of the campsites we wanted. The best part of the trip was that we paddled for hours without coming upon anyone else, lots of open water out there.
We would recommend this trip for anyone that enjoys the peacefulness of nature.
All camping is on the river. They have cottages at Hartley Bay Marina, but they have a three night minimum.
We used a 16ft Nova Craft canoe made with Kevlar Composite
There are parking and canoe launching fees as well as camping fees for the French River Provincial Park
Hartley Bay Marina is located about 4 hrs North of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. From Toronto, you take hwy 400 north to hwy 69. From hwy 69 you turn left on Hartley Bay Rd.
We had the French River Provincial Park map and it was very useful -- it is the only Map with the campsites marked on it.