Driftwood Provincial Park is a little gem! The first time I camped there, my son was almost 3, and my daughter 11 months old. My husband and I decided to try a short camping trip, and then visit our friends in Deep River. We loved the park! Driftwood is on Highway 17, about 1 1/2 hours east of North Bay, and 2 1/2 hours northwest of Ottawa. It lies on the Ottawa River. After visiting many times, I’ve drafted a list of my 10 favourite things to do while car camping at Driftwood Provincial Park.
1. Go for a hike along the Oak Highland Trails or Chevrier Creek Trails
Neither trail is too demanding, but the Oak Highlands Trails give a panoramic view of the Ottawa River.
2. Explore the Ottawa River shoreline by canoe
When the weather is good and the river calm, we love to paddle along the Ottawa River shoreline looking for creatures like beavers.
3. Hike the Barron Canyon Trail at Algonquin Provincial Park
The drive to the Barron Canyon Trail (accessed from the east side of the park 11 km north of the Sand Lake Gate) is about 1 1/2 hours from Driftwood. The hike itself is short – it’s just a 1.5 km loop trail – but the views are spectacular! Make the drive worthwhile and visit High Falls while you’re in the area (see below)!
4. Swim and play at the water slide at High Falls at Algonquin Provincial Park
We love playing at High Falls! It’s a natural water slide that is easily accessible and super fun! You can hike there via a short trail (3 to 4 km) on the Barron Canyon Road about 250 m west of the Brigham Lake Parking Lot, or you can take the longer route and hike along the Eastern Pines Hiking Trail from the Achray access point.
There’s a rope to help you get out of the water and back up onto the rock.
Tip: don’t wear your favourite shorts or bathing suit – sliding down the rock could tear the material! I’m speaking from experience.
5. Go to Deep River for ice cream
Sadly the dairy is no longer operating, but you can still get ice cream in Deep River, a small town about 30 minutes south-east of the park!
6. Swim from our campsite to the island
Our favourite campsites are in the 39-41 range, and just off the campsite there is an island that we love to swim to. It may be 100m or more away, but with life jackets and calm water, it’s manageable for kids!
7. Admire the beauty of the Ottawa River
You can’t beat sitting in a chair and staring out at the Ottawa River. We’ve seen some spectacular storms come across the river… hitting us with a flash flood, hail, and wild thunderstorms!
8. Hike the Brent Crater Trail at Algonquin Provincial Park
The Brent Crater Trail is a 2.0 km loop near the Cedar Lake – Brent Access Point of Algonquin Provincial Park. From the park website: “[It] allows scenic views and exploration of the Brent meteorite crater, one of the world’s most famous fossil meteorite craters. Visitors can descend into the present floor of the crater before looping back to the observation tower overlooking the crater rim. The observation tower can also be accessed by a small parking lot off the Brent Road at km 32.” Apparently the crater formed 450 million years ago!
9. Visit the Canadian Clock Museum in Deep River
The Canadian Clock Museum is way more interesting than it sounds! On the front lawn there is even a clock that tells time using your body and the shadow you cast.
Tip: Call ahead! The museum is not open every day!
10. Snack on blueberries while hiking through the park
Who can resist a few fresh blueberries while hiking through the forest?
If you’re interested in other Ontario Parks, here are my tips for Grundy Lake, Lake Superior, and Sleeping Giant:
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