Hugging the scenic southern shore of Georgian Bay, Craigleith can be a peaceful beach getaway or a launching point for adventure. Craigleith sports a lovely beach, backed by woodlands. The shoreline alternates between sand and blocky sheets of shale. The latter is full of fossils from over 400 million years ago. Naturalists can head out with cameras, magnifying glasses and guidebooks and search for these ancient biological relics (don't take any, though - collection isn't allowed!) Live animals are plentiful as well, and the area has a particularly high diversity of avian species, including many colorful migratory warblers and songbirds.
If you're looking for a typical, relaxing beach experience, you can sunbathe on the sand or go for a swim in the cool waters of the Georgian. Sailing, windsurfing, paddle boarding and kayaking are also popular on the bay. The nearby Beaver River offers opportunities for paddling as well. Or, if cycling is your thing, go for a ride on the Georgian Trail, which winds along a mellow, bayside route from Collingwood to Meaford.
The campground at Craigleith is large and packed with amenities. There's over 150 spots, many of which are suitable for RVs and trailers, many of which have electric or electric/water hookups. There are modern restrooms, showers, a laundry area, a playground, a horseshoe pit a well-stocked camp store and more. Given the park's proximity to populated areas (it sits two hours from Toronto), it's a good idea to make reservations ahead of time (which can be done, for most sites, over the park's website).
RV Rentals in Craigleith Provincial Park
Transportation in Craigleith Provincial Park
Craigleith is located within a well-developed part of Ontario and is easily accessible. The park itself sits just off of ON-26, which runs along the southern coast of the Georgian Bay from Collingwood to Meaford. The campground's roads are paved as well. Even if you're driving a large RV or hauling a long trailer, the flat and well-maintained roads make for easy traveling. If you happen to be coming from Toronto, you can expect the drive to take about two hours.
Craigleith is relatively small and the campground takes up a good portion of the park. There are several interconnected loops laid out along the shoreline. There's not a ton of space in between sites, so maneuvering can be a bit tricky if you have a very large rig. But with a bit of patience you should be fine. Spots are back-in for the most part, though there are about a dozen sites pull-through sites suitable for very large RVs and trailers.
Campgrounds and parking in Craigleith Provincial Park
Campsites in Craigleith Provincial Park
Craigleith's wonderful beachside campground sports over 150 spots and boasts many modern amenities. The campground is composed of four loops, three of which can accommodate trailers and RVs (though the park's website does not list a specific length limit, there are spots available for rigs over 32 ft in length - and you can call ahead to ensure your setup will fit in a certain camping spot).
Some sites have electric, and some have both electric and water. Sewage hookups are not available, however, there is a sanitary dump station located within the park. Potable water is available via several spigots interspersed throughout the four loops.
Craigleith's campsite also has several modern restrooms, showers, and even a laundry area. The park's camp store offers a wide selection of foods, camping supplies and educational materials (e.g. guide books and maps).
The day use area, which sports several covered picnic tables, fire rings, BBQs and a horseshoe pit, is within walking distance of the campground, as is the beach.
Reservations are accepted for most of the campground's sites and can be made up to five months in advance. A small portion of sites are first-come first-served.
Seasonal activities in Craigleith Provincial Park
When summer rolls around, the glittering waters of Georgian Bay turn into an enormous playground for watersport enthusiasts of all kinds. Paddleboards, sailboats and even wind-surfers dot the Bay's horizon when the season is in full swing. Sunset and sunrise are particularly gorgeous times to be out, as full pallet of reds, oranges, purples and blues are streaked across both sky and water.
Of course, if you are planning on heading out onto the Bay, be aware of the weather forecast (nasty summer storms are not uncommon).
Paddlers have plenty of great options to choose from when visiting Craigleith. The most popular and most easily accessible place to explore is the Georgian Bay itself. This massive freshwater bay, which feeds into Lake Huron, is ringed with gorgeous coastlines of sand, forest and cliff. Though there are not any boat launches, there are plenty of places to put in along the park's mellow beach.
River paddling is another great option; you can meander from Kimberly to Heathcote along the gorgeous, tree-lined Beaver River. Both towns are just a short drive from the park, and there's a shuttle service that can take paddlers from Heathcote back to Kimberly once they've finished their downstream trip.
Those looking for a gentle ride along a scenic coast need look no further than the Georgian Bike Trail. The route, which is easily accessible from Craigleith, hugs the shoreline of Georgian Bay for 21 miles (34 km). Beginning at Craeigleith, you can head eastward towards the city of Collingwood, or you can head west and pass through the lovely beach towns of Meaford and Thornbury. Either way, you'll be treated to easy grades, a well-maintained, hard-packed biking surface and great views of sand and sea (or, technically, bay).
For an even easier, more casual ride, visitors are also welcome to bike along any of the park's paved roads.
The rich forests on the Georgian Bay's coast are a popular stopover spot for migrating birds. Whether you go for a woodland hike, a beach-side stroll or a paddle out onto the lake, you're sure to see some of the area's surprising avian diversity. Bald eagles, kites, hawks and other raptors can frequently be seen soaring overhead. Nuthatches, cardinals, blue jays, and a host of colorful warblers and vireos can be spotted as well. If you're an avid birder, be sure to bring your binoculars to Craigsleith!
Come spring and fall, the waters off of Craigleith are swimming with activity. Anglers can cast from the beautiful coastline or head out on a boat to take advantage of excellent fishing; rainbow trout, salmon and whitefish are among the most sought-after species.
If you're looking for a quieter, more riparian setting, you can also head to the mouth of the Beaver River, which empties into Georgian Bay near the town of Thorbury. Here you can cast a line among the forested banks of this gentle waterway.
Regardless of where you head, make sure you've got a valid Ontario fishing license with you.
Fossil Hunting (Photos Only)
Along parts of Craigleith's beach, visitors will find sheets of blocky shale that stretch out into the bay. Though they may not capture much attention at first glance, these shale sheets hold hidden secrets: fossils from the Ordivician Period, about 450 million years ago. Many specimens are fantastically preserved. Visitors are not allowed to remove rocks or fossils from the park, but you can certainly still hunt for, photograph and identify them. Trilobites and brachiopods are among the commonly spotted ancient creatures.