Guests interested in RVing in Mattawa Valley should add one of Ontario’s scenic and recreational favorite parks to their lists of must-visit places. Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, located in Mattawa, rests among many different bodies of water. The scenic rivers and lakes help to create a serene waterfront atmosphere for RVers who want the feeling of staying in the backcountry combined with some of the comforts of home.
The Mattawa Valley and the Mattawa River is a pivotal part of Canada’s fur trade history. The word Mattawa means junction of waterways in Algonkian, and the waterways in the Mattawa Valley linked the St. Lawrence Valley to the Upper Great Lakes, creating a route for First Nation fur trapping and trading. In the early 1600s, Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer and the namesake of the park, helped explore and discover the area now known as the Mattawa Valley.
Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park operates on a seasonal schedule for day use and camping. During the operational hours, there are educational opportunities, special events, recreation, and plenty of things to see and do within the park’s boundaries. Before planning your trip, visit the park’s website to find out what is taking place during your stay because there are often events for people of all ages.
Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park is located along the Trans-Canada Highway in an area dotted with lakes and rivers. From Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the park is located 192 miles (309 km) northwest of the city. From Toronto, the park is 242 miles (391 km) north. Drivers heading from Toronto may take a route that requires tolls.
Guests visiting the park must pay a daily vehicle permit fee as well as an overnight camping fee for more than one vehicle. Prices vary depending on the residency and ages of the guests. Fees are payable upon entry.
The Jingwakoki Campground is a primitive campground mixed with a handful of 15 and 30 amp electricity-only sites. This campground is a pet-friendly, seasonally operating campground designed in two sections that rest along the shores of Moore Lake. The mixed-surfaced driveways accommodate RVs and trailers from 18 feet in length to over 32 feet in length, and each site has a picnic table and a fire ring. Each loop has vault toilets, drinking water, trash bins, and there is a comfort station with flushing toilets, showers, and a laundry room located the campground’s shared area. Generators are permitted as long as you adhere to the park’s rule of keeping excessive noise to a minimum.
The Babawasse Campground is a pet-friendly and seasonally operating campground that sits next to the Mattawa River. Each site has 15 and 30-amp electrical hookups, a fire pit, and a picnic table. The mixed-surfaced driveways accommodate RVs and trailers from 18 feet in length to over 32 feet in length, and the campground has a comfort station with showers and flushing toilets. Campers also have access to a laundry room, drinking water, trash bins, vault toilets, a dump station, and a fill station. Generators are permitted as long as you adhere to the park’s rule of keeping excessive noise to a minimum.
There are many boating opportunities at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. If you have a small-engined motorized boat, use the boat launch to spend time trolling around Moore Lake. Kayakers and canoers may also paddle on Moore Lake, or spend time on the Amable du Fond River, Long Lake, or venture to the Mattawa River Provincial Park Canoe Route, which passes through Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. If you don’t have a boat, canoe and kayak rentals are available at the Park Store.
If you or your family like to swim or sit on the beach, plan to spend time at any of the park’s beaches and swimming areas. The beaches are located at Moore Lake, both campgrounds, and the Bagwa Day-Use area. The lake’s water is clear and refreshing, and it is the ideal place for swimmers to cool down after a long hike or warming up from the sun. The other beaches offer more privacy and larger stretches of sand.
The Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park day use area caters to visitors of many ages and abilities offering plenty of things to see and do. During the summer months, the Visitor Center is the place to stop and ask about the park’s natural and cultural history and learn about the hiking trails and other activities that take place in the park. The park store, also open during the summer, sells souvenirs, ice, firewood, basic camping supplies, and also rents canoes and kayaks. After visiting the park’s services buildings, guests can head outside and use the playground, picnic areas, and the swim beach.
The hiking at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park is excellent, even when it is not peak season. For people who prefer an easy-day hike, choose from one of the less strenuous trails, the Wabashkiki Trail or the Forestry Research Trail. If steep climbs and challenging hikes are to your liking, then the Kag Trail or the Etienne Trail System (a four looped trail) are the trails for you. Each trail winds through a different area of the park giving hikers plenty of scenic viewpoints and changes in scenery.
If you are a birder, don’t forget to bring your birding checklists and your binoculars with you on your visit. The park’s lakes and rivers paired with the marshy and forested areas create the ideal habitat for waterfowl, migratory birds, as well as songbirds. The park’s most commonly seen birds are the bald eagle, hawks, great blue herons, as well as warblers, and other avian species. If you are visiting during the peak season, stop by the Visitor Center before heading outside to look for birds. The park staff may be able to direct you to the best bird-viewing locations within the park.
The fishing at the Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park is excellent because there are opportunities for both lake and river fishing. Launch your small motorized boat into Moore Lake, or fish from a canoe or kayak in one of the other lakes or rivers. Moore Lake, the park’s favorite fishing area for anglers, has both large and smallmouth bass, northern pike, muskellunge, and walleye. Ontario requires fishing licenses, but the rules for permits vary by residency and age. Visit Ontario’s travel and recreation department for fishing information before heading out on the lake or river to fish to ensure you adhere to all fishing rules and regulations.