a peek inside the fishbowl

12 Aug, 2013

Camping 2013 – Grundy Lake trails, and a bit about kids and hiking

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|travel talk

Our daily camping routine always goes something like this:

  • Wake up
  • Breakfast/get ready for the day
  • Go for a hike
  • Eat lunch
  • Swim/beach time
  • Dinner
  • Sit around the fire
  • Get ready for bed
  • Sleep

I like it this way. And even though I’d secretly prefer to drink coffee on the beach all morning, I especially like going on an a.m. hike. A hike in the morning is a great way to start the day. It’s so satisfying. It gets you moving, makes you hungry, and makes that afternoon swim just a little bit more welcome.

The girls have been hiking with us since they were small, VERY SMALL. I think Sarah was less than two years old when we started. More often than not we had them carry their own water and a snack in an appropriately-sized backpack. (Let’s just say we were grooming an early sense of responsibility in our kids. That and I also hate being the family sherpa.) The only other thing you need for a summer family hike is sturdy shoes and bug spray (although a small emergency kit can come in handy). Depending on the length/timing of the hike we sometimes packed a picnic lunch too.

I like to hike every day while we’re camping. I prefer to start with the easiest trail on the first day and move towards the harder ones each subsequent day.

Ontario Parks campgrounds always have a few hiking trails nearby. Grundy was no exception. There are three in the immediate vicinity (descriptions by Ontario Parks):

Swan Lake Trail 1.5 km (1 hour) easy
“This trail circles and crosses Swan Lake Nature Reserve. A boardwalk traverses a wetland alive with plants and animals and leads to an observation platform. The trail continues over bald, glacier-scoured granite rock overlooking the lake. In blueberry season, take along a bucket.”

Gut Lake Trail 2.5 (1.5 hours) easy
“This scenic trail passes through two different terrains — rugged, bald Precambrian Shield rock and lakes, streams and wetlands that drain into Georgian Bay. If you walk quietly, you may see herons, songbirds, frogs, fox, deer, bear and moose.”

Beaver Dam Trail 4.5 km (2 hours) moderate
“Hike through dense forest and forested wetlands and watch for moose, bears, deer, fishers, ruffed grouse. Look up to see osprey nests in the tops of swamp-killed trees and scan the water’s edge for heron. A beaver dam at the rock fracture controls the water level in Bucke Lake and affects Grundy Lake, Gut Lake and Nisbet Creek.”

The first two trails were scenic and lush. Amazingly enough, the bugs weren’t too bad either. Swan Lake Trail is absolutely perfect for young families. We actually returned for a second (shorter) visit to Swan Lake just to look for frogs off the boardwalks near the beginning and ends of the trail. While we were there we met some fellow hikers who’d spotted a bear… which is pretty exciting (although I’m kind of glad it wasn’t us who saw it).

We also hiked Beaver Dam Trail but took a turn somewhere and missed part of it. We found out later that part of the trail was overgrown and scheduled for maintenance, which is why we walked right by the turnoff. (In fact, maintenance staff couldn’t find it either!) Other than that, the trails at Grundy are very well-marked (which is a relief) and very enjoyable. We’re very motivated by the promise of fantastic views, wild blueberries, and the critters we find along the way… and there was no shortage of any of those things.


Pretty view of the lake

Mark takes a break

Looking for frogs

Looking for frogs

Found one!

And another


Trail side sustenance!

View of the trail

View of the trail

View of the trail

Rest stop

View of the trail


You can’t help but get a fantastic sense of accomplishment when you complete a hike. It’s a great feeling for a kid to have.

Looking for some easy hikes in Ottawa? Stony Swamp near Bell’s Corners has some great trails for families!

2 Responses to "Camping 2013 – Grundy Lake trails, and a bit about kids and hiking"

1 | Brenda A

August 12th, 2013 at 9:54 am


Those are beautiful pictures! Your trip sounds great!

2 | Camping at Presqu’ile Provincial Park – part one >> a peek inside the fishbowl

July 29th, 2014 at 10:32 am


[…] is not as stately or woody as some of the more northern sites, and not as scenic as Bon Echo or Grundy Lake. I don’t think people come here for the hiking trails or the views, it’s ultimately […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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