Paddling on Lake Simcoe on a sparkling summer day can be magical, but where can you launch your kayak, canoe or paddleboard? Paddling poet Albert Bedward reveals a few spots.
Six weeks prior to my solo paddle by sea kayak across Lake Simcoe, I took a fellow paddler to Innisfil Beach Park. Being unaware of her strength, skill and experience, I said: “You can paddle along the Innisfil Beach Park shoreline while I circumnavigate Fox Island. I should return within an hour.”
If looks were a torpedo, I’d be yelling, “Abandon kayak, abandon kayak!”
“How far is Fox Island?” Diana asked calmly.
“About 3.5 kilometres one way.”
“Albert, I warm up at eight to 10 km.”
Halfway across, she broke into a handstand on the SUP (stand-up paddle board). At the western tip of Fox Island, she looked east toward Georgina Island and said, “If sunset weren’t in an hour, we could paddle across and back,” then looked confidently back at me and smiled.
Though this conversation is in part a story, Diana did say: “If someone published a list of places from which I could launch my SUP, that would be golden, since Lake Simcoe is a beautiful place to explore.”
Following is a list of some of the places one can paddle out of, and onto Lake Simcoe by SUP, canoe or sea kayak. Like our city neighbours, one of the challenges is finding free parking (boat launch optional). The answer is easy if you rent, lease or own a cottage or house, or you are staying with someone who does, or at a local Lake Simcoe B&B, motel or hotel.
There are a few but, like the fishing spots beneath the trees on the southern shoreline of Thorah Island, they remain a secret.
Parking costs can vary from about $3 an hour to $35 for a full day at any of the Provincial Parks. (Sibbald Point Park Provincial only charges $10 for a full day.) The cost of launching from various marinas can vary from $10 to $20 per SUP, canoe or sea kayak.
I have added a telephone number and/or web address, where one was available, to each of the references below. I recommend calling or emailing before going out.
Costs will vary between fall, winter, spring and summer, with the latter being highest. It cost me about $35 to paddle solo from Innisfil Beach Park to Beaverton in August 2016. I estimated the crossing would take six to eight hours, waiting for my ride back to my car and the travel back. Total time: 11 hours.
A few notes.
1. There are public and private beaches. The former always have parking next to or nearby. Private beaches are always signed with the words Private or Private for Local Residents Only. This is the equivalent to their back yard. Please respect that.
2. Beaverton Harbour has the only wheelchair accessible kayak assisted dock on Lake Simcoe. Any paddler should be able to get in and out of a kayak without assistance.
3. If you own an inflatable SUP, sea kayak your options are greater to park free a kilometre or so from the launch site. It applies if you own a cart for your non-inflatable SUP, sea kayak or canoe. This is a frame on wheels to help you pull your craft to the water. Stores such as MEC, Sojourn, and Canadian Tire carry them for about $100 to $160.
ALBERT BEDWARD’S PADDLE BOAT LAUNCH RECOMMENDATIONS
Centennial Park / beach, Barrie, western most tip of Kempenfelt Bay, bordered by Lakeshore Dr., 705-739-4255, barrie.ca
Barrie Water Front: 57 Lakeshore Dr., barriewaterfront.ca
Heritage and Bayview Park: Lakeshore Dr. and Mulcaster
Kempenfelt Park: On Kempenfelt Dr. east of Duckworth St.
Johnson’s Beach:1 Johnson St., Barrie and Shanty Bay Rd.
Wilkin’s Beach: Crimson Ridge Rd. and Capps Dr., walk south east on Wilkins Way, Barrie, barrie.ca
Dock Road Park: 204 Dock Rd. at Punket Ct., Barrie, barrie.ca
Tyndale Beach: Tyndale Rd. near Gray Ln, Barrie
Pioneer Park: 420 Cox Mill Rd., 705-739-4207, barrie.ca
342 Tollendal Mill Rd., 705-722-8344, brentwoodmarine.ca
Minet’s Point Park: 10 Lismer Blvd., Barrie
Southshore Community Centre
205 Lakeshore Dr., Barrie, 705-739-4220 ext. 4515, barrie.ca
Oro Beach: West side of Lake Simcoe, 7th Line South, south of LakeShore Rd. East
Bayview Memorial Park: 654 Lakeshore Rd. E, west of Memorial Cr., Hawkestone
* No name: 9th Line South and Parkside Dr., Hawkestone
Across from the Carthew Bay General Store: 284 Lakeshore Rd. E at 14 line S, Oro-Medonte, 705-326-3295
Kitchener Park: 460 West Street, Orillia
Public Boat Launch: 425 Collins Dr. north of Macissac Dr., Orillia
Blue Beacon Marina: 693 Atherley Rd. and Bridge St, Orilia, 705-325-2526,
Baer Harbour: Queen St., Orillia, 705-325-2132, baerharbour.com
Narrows Canoe-Kayak Co: 33 Queen St., parking on Ogden St., Orillia, 705-326-5301
Atherley Community Park & Lovely Day Playground
72 Creighton St. S., Orilia
Mara Provincial Park:181 Courtland St, Longford Mills 705-326-4451,
Starport Marina: 3952 McRae Park Rd., Orillia 705-325-3773, starportmarina.com
Marina del Rey: 4130 Bayview Ave., Orillia, 705-325-3051, delreymarina.com
McRae Point Provincial Park: 4366 McRae Park Rd., Orillia, 705-325-7290, ontarioparks.com
Knights Inn Harbour Resort: Lagoon City Brechin
1 Poplar Cr., Brechin, (705)484-5366, wyndhamhotels.com
Lagoon City Park: 116 Lake Ave., Brechin, 705-484-5374
Trent Talbot Marina: B1267 Concession Rd. 9, Beaverton, 705-426-7343, trenttalbotmarina.com
Beaverton Victoria Yacht Club: Near Victoria St., Beaverton, 705-426-7309
Beaverton Harbour Park: 24 Harbour Park Cr., Beaverton Harbour, 705-416-9389
Brock Soccer club: Thorah Park Blvd. at Thorah Concession 1 Rd., Pefferlaw
Flying Bridge Marina Ltd.: Laurine Rd., Georgina, 705-437-2373, flyingbridgemarina.ca
Everglades Marina: 54 Riverside Dr., Pefferlaw, 705-437-1340, evergladesmarina.ca
Virginia Beach Marina - at Georgina Island Ferry dock:
7751 Black River Rd. #1, Sutton, 705-437-2533,
Sibbald Point Provincial Park: 26071 Park Rd., Jacksons Point, 905-722-8061, ontarioparks.com
Bonnie Park: 1 Bonnie Blvd, Georgina
Jackson’s Point Harbour: 19 Lorne St, Jacksons Point, 905-722-9717
Jackson’s Point Municipal Property: Malone Rd., Jackson’s Point (parking area at the end of the road)
De La Salle Park: Lake Drive E. near Alexander Blvd, Jacksons Point, 905-476-4301 ext. 2354
Franklin Beach Conservation Area: 753 Lake Dr. E., Jacksons Point, 905-895-1281 ( parking questionable)
Franklin Beach Park: 753 Lake Dr. E, Jacksons Point, 905-895-1281
Willow Wharf (public): Lake Dr. E at Kennedy Rd., Willow Beach (near Lakeview Grocery), 905-722-9216
Willow Beach Park: 1506 Metro Rd. N, Willow Beach, 905-476-4301 (the parking area is on the west side of McNeil Rd., south of Metro Rd. N)
Island Grove Marina: 87 Lake Dr. N, Keswick, 905-476-7600, islandgrovemarina.com
East Point Marina: 967 Lake Dr. N, Keswick, 905-989-2821
North Gwillimbury Park: 823-857 Lake Dr. N, Keswick
Claredon Beach Park: Windy Stone Dr. at Ways Bay Dr., Keswick
Keswick Marine: 236 The Queensway S, Keswick, 905-476-4343, keswickmarine.com
Krates Marina Ltd.: 290 The Queensway S, Keswick, 289-803-0097, kratesmarina.com
Glenwood Beach Park: 488 Lake Dr. S, Keswick, 905- 476-4301 ext. 2354, georgina.ca
Pasadena Marina: 534 Lake Dr. S, Keswick, 905-476-1077, kingdragonmarine.com
Public Boat Launch: 590-598 Lake Dr. S at Walter Dr., Keswick
Young’s Harbour Park: 601 Lake Dr. S, Georgina, 905-476-4301
Adeline Park: 668 Lake Dr. S near Adeline Dr., Keswick
Cooks Bay Marina: 1155 Gilford Rd., Gilford, 705-456-6212, cooksbaymarina.com
Kon Tiki Marine: 1096 Shore Acres Dr., Gilford, ON L0L 1R0, 705-456-2339, lefroyharbour.com
Lefroy Harbour: 727 Harbour St, Lefroy, 877-453-3769, lefroyharbour.com
Monto Reno Marina: 1111 Killarney Beach Rd., Lefroy, 705-456-2122, montoreno.com
Lake Simcoe Marine Limited: 977 Isabella St, Belle Ewart, 705-456-3131, lakesimcoemarine.com
Belle Ewart Park: 980 Emily St. at Arnold St., Churchill
Innisfil Beach Park: 676 Innisfil Beach Rd., Innisfil, 705-436-3710, innisfil.ca
Innisfil Beach: 2715 Purvis St, Innisfil, innisfil.ca
Article and photos by Albert Bedward, a writer, poet, photographer and filmmaker who has paddled his sea kayak out of many locations in Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean Sea. His solo paddle across Lake Simcoe was featured in the 2017 Winter issue of Lake Simcoe Living, available online at https://www.lakesimcoeliving.com/issues/2017-winter/#p=16