Camping at Pinery Provincial Park (COVID-19 Edition): Activities, Meals & Packing List

Hi friends! Eden and I are back from our long weekend camping trip and I’m ready to share everything that we did. I hope you guys had an amazing long weekend 🙂

Our camping trip this year was full of fun and new experiences despite the pandemic. It did feel a little bit different than previous years but we didn’t let that (or the pouring rain shower on Sunday) hinder our socially distanced experience!

This year we decided to explore Pinery Provincial Park, as it is one of the five most visited Ontario Provincial Parks. It’s definitely one of the better parks we have visited thus far and there are a few reasons for this. The park was spacious and occupies an area of 25.32 square kilometres. The camp sites were pretty spaced out and although the park felt like it was occupied at full capacity, we didn’t feel crammed and felt like we could be socially distanced during out stay. The beach was beautiful and stretched for 10KM along Lake Huron. Lastly, the washrooms were proper washrooms (not outhouses) and were cleaned quite frequently.

I’ll go into further details below about the activities that we enjoyed, the amenities that we used during our visit and how Covid-19 impacted our experience.

Sweater from Bershka (old), Jean shorts from Zara, Sandals from Birkstenstock

ABOUT PINERY PROVINCIAL PARK

Pinery Provincial Park is located in the Southwestern part of Ontario and is roughly a 2.5 to 3 hours drive from downtown Toronto. We left Toronto Friday afternoon and took almost 3 hours with 2 pit stops along the way. The park itself is divided into 2 sections: Day Use & Campgrounds. The campgrounds are divided into 3 sections: Burley, Dunes & Riverside. The park is so large that each of the 3 separate campgrounds has its own “check in” booth at their respective entrances. It took a good 5-7 minutes to drive from the park’s main entrance to our campsite in Burley. Here is the park map for a better visual.

For more details about reservations, park sizes, different types of accommodations offered across the different parks (cottage, cabin, tent, group, electrical campsites) you can refer to this post.

WASHROOMS

Before booking a campsite at any Ontario Park, the first thing I always do is research the washrooms offered at the campsite. I personally don’t like outhouses so I always make sure that there are proper washroom facilities available or, at the very least, AVAILABLE within walking distance. There were quite a few washroom & shower facilities offered in the Burley Campgrounds. The washrooms were cleaned twice a day and I never had any issues with overcrowding. There were never any line ups to use the washroom and I noticed I was either alone or with one other person in the washroom. The park had plenty of social distancing & mandatory mask posters plastered around the facility so it felt pretty safe. Unfortunately the shower facilities were temporarily closed due to the pandemic so we brought some cleansing wipes.

When booking reservations, it’s not a bad idea to check out the park map in advance to see how close or far you want your campsite to be away from the washrooms & showers facilities. Our campsite was pretty close this year so it came in really handy when we experienced rain showers Sunday morning.

For more information about what facilities are available during your stay, be sure to visit the park’s websites.

WHAT TO EAT

Like our other long weekend camping trips, we stayed 4 days and 3 evenings at Pinery. Typically on the Friday evening, we will pick up dinner somewhere along the way to the park. Saturday evening is usually when we barbecue especially because we have the raw meat stored in the cooler and even if you freeze it ahead of time, it’s always a better idea to cook those items as soon as you can.

Eden and I were responsible for preparing all of Sunday’s meals. For breakfast, we brought a few packs of Mac & Cheese that we whipped up and served with some canned tuna stirred in. For lunch, we heated some pre-made jap chae that we had prepared earlier in the week. For dinner we heated up chilli that we also pre-made earlier in the week. We like to prepare some of the food ahead of time and freeze it in a ziploc bag. This will ensure the food stays fresh and lasts longer. It also lets us have a good hearty meal without doing too much prep and cooking work at the camp site.

If you are in need of any camping meal prep ideas, here’s a great post to check out.

CAMP GRILL & COOKING

We will typically use the camp fire-pit for cooking to barbecue or to make campfire snacks. For all the other meals like frying eggs or mac & cheese, heating up pre-made food or even boiling water for hot drinks, we use a gas powered stove. It’s just less time consuming overall and way easier to get started up.

Each campsite comes with a picnic table & a fire-pit and we always buy our fire wood upon arrival at the park. We also bring charcoal for grilling and a custom grill that fits perfectly over top of the fire-pit. Luckily, all the fire pits across the provincial parks we’ve visited over the past few years have been the same shape and size so we’ve been good to grill! If you need to purchase a camp grill that matches the size of the fire pits at Ontario Parks, you can buy it here.

WHAT TO DO AT PINERY PARK

Due to the pandemic, rentals were temporarily unavailable, which meant that we couldn’t rent canoes or kayaks like we’d normally do. We did our research in advance and decided that this wouldn’t get in the way of our camping trip! Be sure to check the park’s website for all available facilities & activities in advance. Here is a screenshot of what was available at Pinery Park

Screenshot 2020-08-04 at 15.02.51

If you’re worried about overcrowding at the beach, let me tell you that there is nothing to worry about. The sand beach here stretches for 10KM along Lake Huron’s shore so there’s plenty of space for families to settle in with their beach tents and with plenty of room to spare. I would recommend bringing a beach blanket, a beach umbrella or something similar for shade and camping chairs. The beach is a bit rocky but if you go further into the water, there is a nice sand bar where you can hang out and play.

Since we weren’t able to rent canoes and kayaks, we brought our donut and unicorn floaties that were purchased last year. Also, be sure to snap a photo from the lookout spot!

In the past, playing with our equipment rentals + hiking would fill up our entire weekend. This was our first time bringing our own bikes with us on a camping trip. At Pinery, there’s a great 14KM bike trail along the park that goes along the water. Half the biking trail was on gravel and the other half was on the road. Don’t worry though, it was perfectly safe to ride on the road as it was split into a one-way lane for cars with the other lane used for the biking trail.

I think the 14 KM bike ride was the highlight of the my weekend especially since I’ve taken a huge interest in biking for the past month. It was a very peaceful ride with a few small hills here and there. There were signs every KM to show your progress. Riding through the rain for the last 8KM of the trail was not something I expected but it was pretty fun in hindsight.

We were rained on for pretty much half the trip. We did anticipate this and I brought along the new book I’m reading, “My Friend Anna”, while Eden’s sister brought along some board games & cards.

WHAT YOU SHOULD PACK

I’m generally an overpacker but I definitely underpacked this time. I underestimated the number of times I would need to change because of the rain.

For clothes: I brought a rain jacket, a few sweaters, and t-shirts. I even brought a long 2 long sleeve Heat Tech turtle necks from Uniqlo. I normally wear these under my skiing gear, but they barely felt warm enough for the cold & crispy mornings. In terms of pants, I brought a pair of joggers, 2 pair of leggings and couple pairs of shorts.

For shoes: I recommend bringing a pair of running shoes for hiking etc., a pair of flip flops or waterproof sandals / water shoes for rocky beaches. Make sure to bring extra pairs of socks.

Other things: Lysol wipes, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer. Two large jugs of water. I’m a mosquito magnet so I always have mosquito repellent on me and well as physical sunscreen.

For Camp: Tent, a few tarps, tent strings, hammer, camping chairs, flash lights, mosquito coil

For Cooking: Pot, Pan, Cutlery, table cloth, bucket (to wash dishes in), paper towels, cooking utensils (tongs), extra gas bottles for portable stovetop, camp grill

THAT’S IT FROM ME GUYS! HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS POST 🙂

Written by Grace Yeung
Edited by Eden Yeung


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1 Comment

  1. August 12, 2020 / 12:49 am

    It’s nice to see that you’re able to do camping at Pinery Park.
    We missed this activity this year. In the last few years we went camping too with a big group of friend and their families, but we have not been to Pinery though. Thanks for providing information on what can be done at Pinery Park.

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