Pakwash Provincial Park offers a serene, lake-side getaway. Though its location is far-flung, it nonetheless sports ample amenities at its beautiful, wooded campsite. Anglers, paddlers, hikers and those simply wanting to lie on the beach or enjoy a quiet read underneath the shade of tall trees should all consider a visit to Pakwash.
Sitting on the northeastern bank of the tranquil Pakwash Lake, the park provides a great launching point for paddlers and anglers. The former can create endless adventures for themselves as they canoe or kayak along the forested banks of the Pakwash and the several other lakes which are interconnected via rivers and streams. The latter can enjoy world-class fishing in waters teeming with walleye, lake trout, northern pike and more (if you'll be having your catch for dinner, the park has a fish-cleaning station located conveniently next to the boat launch). An interpretive nature trail offers a chance for visitors to stretch their legs while learning about the area's mixed forests and diverse marshlands.
Pakwash's mellow campsite sports about fifty spots suitable for RVs and trailers. No reservations are taken, but you need not be too concerned with grabbing a spot. Even during the busy summer season, the remoteness of Pakwash means the campground is rarely full.
The park sits on the northeast shore of Pakwash Lake and is just off of Ontario Highway 105 (ON-105). The small town of Ear Falls is just a 15 mile (25 km) drive to the south, and it provides amenities such as food and camping supply stores, restaurants, a gas station, and ATMs. This remote part of Ontario does not have any large towns, however, so expect to drive a few hours in order to reach "big city" facilities.
The 105 is paved, well-maintained, and has no hairpin turns or steep climbs. It should prove an easy drive even for those traveling with large trailers or RVs.
The park's campground, which can be found immediately past the gatehouse once you turn off of the 105, has a simple, intuitive layout. Spots are back-in, but there's plenty of space between spots and there are few sharp turns. Once you are parked, you're within walking distance of just about everything in this section of the park. There is extra parking available at the nature trail and the boat launch, however.
Pakwash's quiet, lake-side campground offers a surprising number of amenities, considering its remote location. There are about fifty sites that can accommodate RVs and trailers. Though no specific length limit is listed, the park's website mentions "large" rigs being able to fit - you can always call ahead to ensure your specific vehicle or trailer can be accommodated at a certain site. Some sites have electric hook-ups available, though none have water or sewage hookups. The campsite also sports a laundry facility, a comfort station with showers and flush toilets, a playground, potable water spigots and a sanitary dump station for RVs and trailers.
One site (reservable by calling the park) is available to group campers; it can hold anywhere from 15 to 100 campers.
Several sites have excellent views of Pakwash Lake itself, while all sites enjoy shade underneath the boughs and canopies of spruce, aspen, birch and more. The nature trail, boat launch, fish-cleaning station, and day-use area are all within walking distance of the campground.
Sites are open from mid-May through mid-September. All are first-come first-served (save the group site).
Fishing is one of the park's most popular activities, and with good reason; Pakwash and its neighboring lakes support huge populations of walleye, lake trout and northern pike. These can all reach tremendous sizes in the cool, pure waters of Ontario's wild northwest.
As a bonus for anglers who are planning on cooking their catch, Pakwash has a fish cleaning station located right by the boat launch. There's nothing quite like a campfire-cooked trout taken straight from the water!
Whether you're fishing for sport or for dinner, make sure you have a valid Ontario fishing license.
Don't let Pakwash's northerly location fool you, it can still get plenty hot (and muggy) here during midsummer. Temperatures reaching 80 fahrenheit (27 Celsius) are not at all unusual during July and August. The clear, mild waters of Pakwash lake can be particularly attractive on such days. Luckily, the park sports a long, sandy beach and a bouy-marked swimming area. Enjoy a dip and then sun yourself along the shore - what could be better? Visitors should note that there are no life-guards at the beach.
Pakwash Lake and a few of its smaller neighboring lakes together offer over 30,000 acres (12,000 ha) of beautiful water to explore by boat. With numerous islands, inlets, bays and bars, you could spend months paddling and barely scratch the scenic surface. Whether you take a canoe or a larger boat, you'll enjoy some of the incredible splendor and solitude that this remote provincial park has to offer. If you didn't bring your own canoe, don't fret; the park office rents them out! A conveniently-located boat launch within the park allows for easy access.
Exploration at Pakwash is not limited to the water; a lovely, well-maintained nature trail takes visitors on a 3 mile (5 km) trek through mixed woodlands and across a marsh packed with fascinating plants and wildlife. Beavers inhabit one of the ponds along the trail - come by at the right time and you may see them hard at work cutting down aspen and willow. There are also several interpretive signs along the trail which offer great information on the area's natural history and native species.
Photographic opportunities abound at Pakwash. The scenic lakes reflect vibrant sunsets and sunrises, when blues, purples, oranges and reds intermingle in a spectacular display. Even after the sun goes down, there are still opportunities to shoot; this part of Ontario suffers little light pollution, and so the night sky is truly dazzling.
Wildlife photographers can focus on the area's many colorful species of migratory birds, including a slew of warbler and vireo species. If you arrive in mid-September, you can catch the aspens, willows and birches as they begin to change into their ephemeral autumn colors.
The lakes, rivers, marshes and rich, mixed woodlands at Pakwash provide excellent habitats for a wide variety of wildlife species. Moose, black bear and white-tailed deer are all commonly seen. If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of one sipping water at the lakeside. The massive, interconnected network of waterways is home to muskrats, beavers, mink and river otters - you may come across any or all of them while out for a paddle. Large birds of prey, including bald eagles and osprey, can be seen circling above the lake, looking for their next fishy meal.