Georgian Bay's The Massasauga Provincial Park

by  Kevburg
  • Canoer heading out

    Canoer heading out

  • Campsite on Spider Bay

    Campsite on Spider Bay

  • Bedrock


A self-supported trip created by Kevburg

Trip Overview

The Massassauga Provincial Park (listed alphabetically under "The" in Ontario's online registration site) covers mainland, inland lakes and islands along Georgian Bay's "30,000 Island" area. Part of it is wilderness, the rest has scattered summer homes. Much of it lies within the aptly named "The Archpelago" township.

Scenery is typical Canadian Shield, featuring glacier-polished gneiss bedrock dropping into the water with thin soils sporting deciduous trees and picturesque white pines. It's the kind of place where the marinas sell a lot of propellers and the mosquitoes party hearty. I heard and saw loons every evening. Exposed islands toward the open Georgian Bay are particularly scenic.

I reserved three campsites for 4 nights, 333 near Pete's Place where I put in, 111 on Spider Bay, and 504 on Blackstone Harbour across from Pete's Place. Almost all of the sites were booked when I made reservations a week earlier. Its a very popular place in August as the
water is the perfect temperature for swimming. All three sites featured good views with a few houses on the shore, boats anchored overnight, and loons. Shoreline at 333 was sandy beach, the others were bedrock. Site 111 was the prettiest, but a couple overnightedin a Bayliner 150 feet from my tent. Some sites were occupied by power boaters who were out for the week with their family.

The weather was sultry and there was little wind, but there are places where waves have a long reach and scour the shoreline. The most significant waves I encountered were boat wakes.

You will need a park map, and a GPS would come in handy. Online the map is $10 CAN plus $20 CAN shipping. The park boundary is clearly marked and I used that (house so has to be a private island) and a compass for navigation as I couldn't get my phone to work. There are plenty of cell towers visible but the map does not show them.

Camping is $40 CAN per night. All campsites are only accessible from the water, so no RVs. Mine were in excellent condition. Some had bear boxes, others had, ahem, thunder boxes. There are reviews of some of the sites on line:

If you are navigating north to Spider Bay or the South Channel the way is almost all protected from westerly winds. Echo Bay has a 3rd entrance north of Echo Island (not clear from the map). The passage around Ermyn Island is the the most exposed: the passage between the mainland and Ermyn Island is blocked by lumber but in a pinch it could be portaged.

I took a day trip to circumnavigate Spider Lake, taking advantage of a 100 meter portage from Spider Bay. It is the only part that I was in that I would consider to be wilderness. Beautiful lake, well worth the effort.

I was solo and took an Epic 18X. I can't imagine a more perfect place to take this boat, but saw few other kayaks. Pete's Place rents what appeared to be good quality canoes.

Safety Notes

Lake Huron is big. Pay close attention to the weather and marine forecasts. The reservations-only policy prevents you from using alternative campsites.

Gear Notes

Epic 18X and 55 lbs of gear. Room to spare.


Low wind, sultry. Swam every day. Rainy day at Spider Lake.

Portage Notes

The Spider Lake/Spider Bay portage was marked only on the lake end. Easy portage.

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 8/15/2021-8/19/2021
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water, Open Water/Ocean
  • Number of Portages: 1

Trip Location