If you’re not from Canada, you may equate the country with its age-old reputation as the land of ice and snow. However, the country is much larger than most people realize with a wide variety of different climates. At the southernmost point of Canada, Point Pelee National Park is a beautiful stop for outdoor travellers that deserves far more attention than it currently receives!
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Located just outside of Leamington, Ontario, Point Pelee National Park may be the country’s second-smallest national park, but don’t let that fool you. If you are in the Southern Ontario area, it is well worth the trip!
Due to its location, the park experiences much milder weather than most people would expect in the ‘Great White North’ aka Canada. The province of Ontario extends down into the United States, and the park itself is actually located at the same latitude as Northern California! Don’t believe me? Check out this article from City Metric including maps to illustrate the shocking truth. Canada isn’t as far north as many believe it to be!
In fact, our pack decided to spend a full afternoon at the park last Sunday, on the first weekend of February. While there was still some snow on the ground on the trails nestled deep within the trees, the majority of the park was reminiscent of a nice summer day. We hiked all afternoon without the need for coats and the biggest challenge we faced was the fact that there was mud EVERYWHERE, which meant 2 very muddy puppies needing a bath when we returned home.
The park offers a variety of different trails, showing off the incredible ecological diversity in the area. A large portion of the park is composed of marsh areas, including one of the largest freshwater marshes still in existence in the Great Lakes area. To allow visitors to really see this beautiful area and the wildlife that call it home, a floating boardwalk trail has been installed. In addition, the park built a large observation tower and installed telescopes for better viewing. Along the boardwalk, benches are available so that you can sit down and take in the sights.
The trails available at the park include:
- Marsh Boardwalk – 1km loop (discussed above)
- Centennial Bike & Hike Trail – 4km
- DeLaurier Homestead & Trail – 1.2km loop
- Chinquapin Oak Trail – 4km loop (including the Cactus Field Footpath)
- Shuster Trail – 0.5 km
- Tilden Woods Trail – 1km loop
- Woodland Nature Trail – 2.75km loop
- Tip Trail – 1km loop
You can access the full trail map HERE.
Due to the mild temperatures that are generally experienced in this area of the province, the park is a go-to spot for hikers that aren’t interested in trudging through the snow that blankets much of the country. While we do experience some snow in the Windsor/Essex area, it’s fairly minimal in comparison.
However, as I mentioned earlier, the milder temperatures here introduce their own challenges. The combination of accumulated rain and melting snow has resulted in some overly muddy trails now which will continue through until the area dries up again as we move through mid to late spring. If you’re planning on heading out, make sure you’re okay with getting a little dirty. Dog owners, be warned, this isn’t something that can be fixed by wiping your pup’s paws down with a towel. That being said, a little mud never hurt anyone, right?
The park was incredibly well taken care of. Despite visiting during the slower winter season, we could tell that the park employees were hard at work to keep the area looking nice. In fact, we passed an employee picking up litter off the marsh boardwalk while we were on the trail. I was impressed with the attention to detail that they maintain throughout the year.
In addition to the hiking trails, Point Pelee National Park is also home to 24 oTENTiks that are available year-round for an overnight experience. If you haven’t heard of oTENTiks before, they are outdoor accommodations that are a combination of a traditional prospector tent and an A-frame cabin. It’s the perfect ‘glamping’ opportunity with full-sized beds and a comfortable dining area. Outside, a gas barbeque and fire pit allow you to embrace the camping experience.
The park also offers canoe rentals, allowing its visitors to explore the waters of Lake Erie. It is also home to the longest continuous natural beach in Essex County. In various spots along the beach, you will find change rooms, picnic areas and washrooms. It should be noted, however, that while the tip has a beach-like appearance, it is not safe to swim at that particular spot due to the strong currents.
In the spring, the park is a go-to birdwatching location. It is an incredible opportunity to see over 370 species of birds as including the northward songbird migration. If you’re more interested in making a trip during the fall months, you can witness the beauty that is the Monarch butterfly migration firsthand. Thousands of monarch butterflies can be seen in the park for just a few short days, making a stop during the process of their migration south.
If you haven’t heard of the Monarch migration, you need to check out this video from Parks Canada:
Finally, the biggest draw to the park is the area known as ‘The Tip’. The park is a triangular-shaped land formation extending into Lake Erie, and ‘The Tip’ is the southernmost point not only of that formation but also of mainland Canada. You can drive down in your personal vehicle to access the area from November to March, however, during the busier months you need to park further up in the park and take the Tip Shuttle.
The Tip itself is a small sandy area. You can walk out on the tip, the water surrounding you on 3 sides, and know that at that moment, the entire country stretches out north of you. The only part of Canada further south is Middle Island, a small island in Lake Erie that is also part of Point Pelee National Park. The entire island is a conservation area.
If you’re looking for a beautiful outdoor experience in Southern Ontario, make sure to add Point Pelee National Park to your list!
Point Pelee National Park is easy to reach by car, located just outside of the town of Leamington. There is no public transit access to the park at this time, however, if you take a train or bus to the Windsor or Chatham stations, you can rent a car or take an uber.
Do you have a favourite go-to spot to leave the world behind and escape to the outdoors? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Share your suggestions in the comments below and inspire others to explore!
30 thoughts on “Point Pelee National Park | Canada’s Southernmost Point”
I am going to Canada for the first time in my life in June to Toronto and I am certainly one of those people who thought of Canada as the land of ice and snow. 🙂 First of all, I like your hiking friends. What a beautiful place Point Pelee National Park is. A little something for everyone between the wooded hiking trails and then the water at the Tip. It looks so peaceful and tranquil and the perfect place to spend the day. I need to go north more often.
There are a number of great Provincial Parks not far from Toronto if you want to see what the area has to offer! The closest that I’ve featured on here up to this point is Six Mile Lake, which is still a bit of a drive but there are others closer as well!
I love Canada and your post just made me love it that much more. Will definitely have to return to visit this park!
It is a really beautiful park! I definitely recommend anyone that loves the outdoors makes a stop if they are in the area 🙂
I’m Candian and from Ontario and I didn’t know that Point Pelee was Canada’s southernmost point! It’s great that there are different trails so you can pick and choose based on how much time you have! The “glamping” experience is fun too – although I couldn’t see myself doing that in the winter! Isn’t it beautiful how much the park changes from season to season?
I’d love to go glamping there in the winter but we don’t do any outdoor travel and the park isn’t dog-friendly in the oTENTiks (yet). The provincial parks have just made the shift this year for a small number of their cabins and yurts to allow dogs, so I’m hoping Parks Canada will follow suit!
Point Pelee national park looks so beautiful. I’d love to be there to see the monarch butterflies. Birdwatching there would be great as well.
I haven’t had the opportunity to visit the park during the monarch migration, but it’s definitely on my list now that I’m living in the area! The pictures and videos look incredible!
Point Pelee looks like a fab place to visit and explore
It is a beautiful park! I highly recommend it!
The beach is my favorite place to relax and take in nature. I don’t go as often as I should since they’re usually crowded here.
Most of the beaches around here are pretty crowded too although I’m lucky that there are enough in the area that there are also some lesser-known areas!
We plan to visit Canada next year and be there for a week or so. Visiting one of the National Parks is certainly in my agenda. Point Pelee National Park looks so serene and beautiful. Will try to visit for sure.
Due to it’s small size, many people don’t consider it. The bigger National Parks like Banff and Jasper are often the first consideration (don’t get me wrong, they are GORGEOUS).
The Point Peele national park looks so beautiful, and I love all the pictures you shared. I do not have a favorite spot outdoors, but your posts certainly makes me want to go outdoors more. 🙂
There is something SO relaxing about spending time outdoors.
I confess to being one of the ignorant geeks who equate Canada with its age-old reputation as the land of ice and snow, but I’m learning quickly how much more there is to do! Point Peele National Park sounds like a gem of a place – the floating boardwalk is such a cool idea to get close to the marsh. And there is a beach too!
The beach is huge, runs the whole length of the one side of the park almost. I didn’t feature it too much when I was taking pictures simply due to the weather (I wasn’t too interested in beach time in the middle of February lol) but we’ll be heading there in the warmer weather for sure! Luckily for us, they sell an annual pass so that you can visit the trails, beaches, etc as often as you’d like.
You weren’t kidding! It really is at the very tip of it. This park looks like a gorgeous place to explore, I have only been to Canada once but I’d love to go back.
It’s really cool to stand there and think about where you are in the bigger picture of it all. Helps to open your eyes and your mind to how big the country really is!
Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Canada. Or near it for that matter. That national park looks amazing, I would definitely visit
It’s worth the trip, however, keep in mind that Canada is HUGE so many people plan trips to this side of the world with far too little time to see everything the want to see. Just the travel time to get across the country is more than many people anticipate.
I haven’t been to Canada in several years, but this post certainly makes me want to go back. I am among the people who thought all Canada was comprised of was ice and snow too. I had a friend who lived there and she would always talk about the nasty cold weather. I’m glad to know it is so much more than that, and this park looks like the perfect destination for my next visit!
Don’t get me wrong, we have our share of nasty cold weather hahaha but there are BEAUTIFUL areas that you really must see if you enjoy the outdoors. Especially during the summer.
I have to admit that when I think of Canada, I think of snow and cold weather. But I’d love to visit Canada someday (I’m actually thinking about it right now, to go with a friend in September). The pictures in this post made me really fall in love with this place and it’s going on my travel bucket list for sure!
xoxo Simone | https://beautymone.com
If you are coming to Canada in September, the Muskoka region of Ontario is absolutely stunning with the changing leaves. We got married in Muskoka during that time of year specifically for that reason – I LOVE all things fall!
Oh it looks like such an amazing national park, with such great views! xo
It really is such a pretty location. We’re lucky, because it’s a short drive from home so we can go more frequently.
Point Pelee looks beautiful! I’ll admit I was one of those people that though Canada was covered in snow. So it interests me that it’s actually a lot warmer in some areas, like this one. I’d love to walk around the marsh lands here and stay in one of their ‘oTENTiks’. I’m definitely adding this to my list should I ever make it over to Canada. The mud wouldn’t bother me though – in the UK most of our trails are covered in mud lol.
It’s a really beautiful area. We’re picking up an annual pass so that we can come back and hike the trails as often as we’d like.