Falling in love with Blue Lake Provincial Park

Today’s post comes from Summer Stevenson, a Discovery Program Leader at Blue Lake Provincial Park.

Where on earth is Blue Lake Provincial Park?

Map of Ontario with two dots showing the locations of both provincial parks.
Dots mark the approximate locations of Charleston Lake and Blue Lake Provincial Park.

I know I had the same thought running through my head when I made the leap and applied for the Discovery Program Lead position at Blue Lake two years ago.

I grew up on Charleston Lake in southeastern Ontario and spent six seasons working at Charleston Lake Provincial Park.

Despite being very familiar with Ontario Parks, I had no idea what was in store for me when I left the diverse broad-leaved forest of the Frontenac Arch and made my way 21 hours north to Blue Lake Provincial Park.

Summer smiling with the view of all the gear she brought with her in the back of the car.
All packed up and ready to go! I even managed to fit my bike in the car.

Different, but wonderful

Blue Lake is located on the Trans Canada Highway 4.5 hours northwest of Thunder Bay and 3.5 hours east of Winnipeg. It’s in the transition zone between the Boreal forest and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest.

View of the Beech Woods Trail at Charleston Lake Provincial Park.
The Beech Woods Trail at Charleston Lake Provincial Park. Notice the fallen deciduous leaves and forest canopy.

While there are some things here that may remind a southern-Ontarian of home, like White Birch or the odd Snapping Turtle, the difference between the regions is striking.

In the Boreal forest, coniferous trees like Jack Pine and Black Spruce dominate the landscape with muskegs and sphagnum wetlands dispersed throughout.

View of Rock Point Trail at Blue Lake Provincial Park.
Views from the Rock Point Trail at Blue Lake Provincial Park. Look at the moss covering the forest floor!

Despite these differences, I wasn’t homesick for very long. As I began exploring Blue Lake and the surrounding area I fell in love with the almost endless amount of water, trees, and large rocks. When I stumbled across my first pile of moose scat, I was hooked (what can I say, I’m a Park Naturalist!).

I haven’t returned to southern Ontario since and I have no plans to. Northwestern Ontario captured my heart and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to live and work in this area.

Summer standing on a boardwalk at Blue Lake Provincial Park.
Here I am in my natural habitat on the Spruce Fen Trail (Tilley hat always included)!

I believe that everyone should experience this part of the province! Here are five reasons why I did, and why you too will fall in love Blue Lake Provincial Park.

1. Crystal clear waters

Pictured is the blue swimming area with a paddleboarder in the distance.

Whether you are watching the waves, taking a dip, or going for a paddle, the crystal clear waters of Blue Lake are sure to blow you away.

Blue Lake is a spring fed, remnant glacial lake which means that it’s deep and cold, perfect for a hot summer day. The bottom is covered with rocks and sand with very few weeds or water plants making it the ideal spot for those who enjoy a plant-free swim.

2. Beautiful sand beach

View of the 800 meter beach at Blue Lake.

Blue Lake’s natural sand beach is over 800 metres long! There are trees scattered along the beach that provide shade for visitors, open areas for those who like the sun, three playgrounds, plenty of picnic tables and benches, AND a picnic shelter you can even reserve ahead of time.

The canoe, kayak, and paddle board rentals are also located on the beach for easy access to the water.

3. Spruce Fen Trail

Picture from along the trail.

As soon as you step foot onto the Spruce Fen Trail’s boardwalk (1 km loop) you will feel like you’ve stepped into another world. There’s a reason why this is the most well-known trail in the park – it has something for everyone!

Whether you are out and about looking for unique plant life, the perfect Instagram post, on an early morning walk with your dog, or in search of an accessible trail that meets your family’s diverse needs, the Spruce Fen is the place to be.

This trail also connects you to the Rock Point (4 km) and Goblin Lake (11 km) trails that showcase the rugged landscape of the Canadian Shield and our transitional forest zone.

4. The sunsets

Sunset at Blue Lake.

There’s a reason why they call Northwestern Ontario “Sunset Country!” Some of the most breathtaking sunsets I have ever seen have been at Blue Lake.

At the height of the Summer Equinox, the sun sets on Blue Lake around 9:30 pm, becoming a few minutes earlier each night as the months wear on. By the end of August, the sun sets around 8:00 pm.

Grab a lawn chair or a blanket and enjoy the view every night of the week from the beach.

Sunset at Blue Lake.

5. Friendly staff

You’re guaranteed to find a smiling face when you spend the day at Blue Lake Provincial Park. We have a small team that works incredibly hard to make everyone’s experience as enjoyable as possible.

Group photo of staff at Blue Lake.

Without the support of my team members the transition to living up north would have been much more difficult. From our maintenance staff, to our gate attendants, to our Discovery Rangers, Blue Lake’s staff are some of the friendliest around!

I hope that you feel inspired to add this northern park to your Ontario Parks’ bucket list. See you soon!