Canoeing Outlet River in Sandbanks Provincial Park
Bob and I had never visited or gone canoeing in Sandbanks Provincial Park in Ontario before 2022. As the coronavirus pandemic persisted, we decided to do a staycation by exploring this rare gem in Prince Edward County not too far from our home.
After doing some scouting a day earlier, we chose to launch our canoe within Sandbanks Provincial Park at a boat launch near the mouth of the Outlet River.
From the small stretch of sandy beach, we could see a bridge spanning the Outlet River closer to Lake Ontario.
The morning started off sunny and bright.
As we set off in a northwesterly direction, we knew the calm waters of Outlet River would only be enjoyed for a distance of about 2 kilometres.
Being at the height of the summer, Bob and I took precautions against marauding Deer Flies or Horseflies by attaching dragonfly deterrents onto our hats.
The placid water of this river made for stunning reflections of the adjacent forest.
It wasn’t long before we passed through an area lined with campers on one side and homes on the other.
When we left the river behind, huge colonies of waterlilies and accompanying lilypads stretched before us through which we paddled by following narrow paths.
It made for a lot of fun as we searched for a route nearer shore on East Lake, the smaller of the two lakes within Sandbanks Provincial Park.
There was a fair representation of waterfowl right away.
Bob and I spotted numerous Mute Swans, some with young cygnets in tow.
Having investigated the head of Outlet River a day earlier from the Glendon Green Boat Launch, we knew that significant beds of bulrushes also populate the areas near shore at this southwestern end of East Lake.
It was fortunate for us because the wetland provides a nesting and staging area for waterfowl. It is known that a colonial nest of Black Terns makes use of the extensive beds of Cattails.
Many Black Terns wheeled in the air above us as we paddled along.
Many Black Terns were carrying food back to their fledglings.
Bob and I made it a bit of an adventure by paddling in and around the thick stems of other aquatic grasses that sometimes challenged the pulling of our paddles.
The constant vocalizations of Marsh Wrens drew us ever closer to the bulrushes in hopes of a glimpse of this boisterous little bird. We were afforded a couple of looks.
When a break was needed to stretch our legs, the discovery of a rather derelict dock on the shore had us pulling alongside.
From my lofty perch, I spotted some flowers that demanded investigation.
Bob navigated the canoe close to shore once we were back onboard.
The flowers, called Flowering Rush, were new to us.
As it neared lunchtime, Bob and I began scanning the shore for a likely spot to pull up with our canoe and make ourselves comfortable. What a surprise when Bob located an old chair tucked into the bushes.
Next, he found a pail overturned at the edge of the adjacent farm field. We had a great laugh at the sight of the bucket with our fold-up camp chair on top. It looked more like a portable potty!
After paddling thus far 5.5 kilometres, we had earned a rest. While munching our lunches, a Gartersnake swam past, and a Killdeer landed on the thin stretch of beach at our feet.
On the return paddle, Bob and I took the time to observe this pair of Hallowe’en Pennant Dragonflies procreating.
Once back at the boat launch in Sandbanks Provincial Park, curiosity got the best of us. Bob loaded the canoe onto the car, and we went to see the mouth of the Outlet River.
Parking was a stone’s throw away from the most impressive stretch of sand beach.
Outlet River grows extremely shallow where it empties into Lake Ontario, but it was so beautiful where it lazily flowed through the noteworthy sand beach.
An obligatory stroll down the beach had us mingling with the many swimmers and sunbathers who were enjoying the sun and the sand.
In fact, we were thrilled to discover that a recent sand carving contest had taken place.
Several of the entries were still up and standing, delighting onlookers.
Children, inspired by the intricate carvings, made their own contributions to the collection of sand castles.
Bob and I were done for the day and were satisfied with this, our first paddle in Sandbanks Provincial Park.
Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean