Pinery Provincial Park – The Best Beach in Ontario Parks?

Pinery Provincial Park has my favourite beach in the Ontario Parks system. Although the beach is the main draw, there are plenty of other activities at The Pinery. Here is a summary of what this park has to offer:

Environment: The Pinery is located in southwestern Ontario, near Grand Bend. It was established in 1957 and opened to the public in 1959. The park is 25 square kilometres, and the beach and sand dunes in the park follow the Lake Huron shoreline. It has the largest Oak Savanna (lightly forested grassland) in Ontario. The Old Ausable Channel also flows through the park. It is the second busiest provincial park (after Algonquin) in Ontario, receiving about 625,000 visitors in 2009.

Pinery Beach - Near Dunes Campground

Beach: The Pinery has a ten-kilometre long beach with beautiful fine sand and colourful stones scattered throughout the sand.  The water is quite shallow at the beach and is excellent for children. Please note that the beach is not buoyed and children must be supervised at all times. The water can get quite wavy and this is when younger and less experienced swimmers need to be closely supervised.

Biking: The Pinery Bike Trail is ten kilometres long and the terrain is very flat and easy to ride. The Bike Trail can be accessed near the park store and bike rentals are available at the store. Much of the trail is paved and follows along the Old Ausauble River. There are lots of campground roads to bike on as well.

Camping: There are approximately 1,000 campsites that are split among three campgrounds (Riverside, Burley and Dunes). Only Algonquin Park has more car accessible campsites in the Ontario Parks system. There are also 12 yurts that are situated in the Riverside campground. If you want to be near the beach, then reserve a campsite at the Burley or Dunes campgrounds. If you want to be near the Old Ausauble River, then book a campsite at the Riverside campground.

Canoeing & Boating: Canoeing is available along the ten-kilometre Ausauble Channel that flows through the park. Canoes and kayaks are also available for rent across from the park store. Lake Huron is very popular for sailing and power boating.

Fishing: With Lake Huron and the Ausauble River, there are plenty of fishing opportunities.  Grab a copy of The Pinery Information Guide for more details.

Pinery Beach - Looking Southwest

Hiking: There are ten easy hiking trails scattered throughout the park, which are between 0.8-3.0 kilometres. The terrain at The Pinery is mostly flat with sand, dunes, savannas and forests. The Cedar Trail is worth hiking because you will hike through an Oak Savanna. The Riverside Trail follows the Ausauble River and the Lookout Trail takes you to the top of the largest sand dune in the park. When I camp at parks with great beaches, my favourite hike is always along the beach. But don’t make the same mistake as I did and attempt to hike the ten-kilometre long beach on a hot sunny day in July.

Shopping: Camping supplies, books and souvenirs are available at the park store, which is located in the centre of the park, along the Old Ausauble River. There is also shopping just outside the park boundary along highway 21. Grand Bend is located a short drive east of the park along highway 21.

The Amphitheatre: The Amphitheatre is large and evening shows happen throughout the summer.

The Visitor Centre: The Pinery has a visitor centre. 

Fun at the Beach

Winter Activities: Camping with hook-ups is available through the winter at the Riverside campground. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are available along with equipment rentals. There is also a toboggan hill in the park.

In Conclusion: The July-August occupancy rate for 2009 was 94%, and only Sandbanks had a higher occupancy rate at 95%. If your goal is to see the best beaches in Ontario, The Pinery should be near the top of your list. You can easily spend a week at The Pinery in the summer, as there is a lot to do. The Pinery is definitely one of my favourite parks in the province.

My Park Rating: 5 out of 5

Resources: For camping information and tips, see: The Camp Tripper. For camping gear, see:


About Patrick Dzieciol

I have authored and published "The Camp Tripper - The Secrets of Successful Family Camping in Ontario" If you want to get in touch with me, please drop me an email at:
This entry was posted in Beach, Biking, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Huron, Ontario, Park, Pinery, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Pinery Provincial Park – The Best Beach in Ontario Parks?

  1. John says:

    Some people complain about the sites not being spacious or private enough. But the further away you get from the camp store, the better the sites get in both respects. Less traffic as well.

  2. Steve says:

    Absolutely gorgeous park! I’d think staying at the dunes would be the best bet, as it is close to the beaches. Riverside has the largest and nicest sites, just near the comfort station there it’s pretty open. Also if you go to riverside don’t forget your bike!! Everything is far away. Make sure you check out the carolinian trail, it has some of the largest tulip trees I’ve ever seen!

  3. Keith says:

    Thanks to the author I was able to find this gem. Fantastic park. Looking for an Ontario park to car camp with lots of activities and a beautiful beach? Then look no further. Extremely clean park, with easy long biking trails for adults and kids, beautiful hiking trails, nice sandy beach with aqua colored water – a little cold but hey, us Canadians are use to it. I thought Sandbanks was great but this surprised the heck out of me. If you visit this park, you have to try the ice cream at the park store – it was amazing. I have been going through all of the reviews and will be trying all the top rated ones. I hope this author will list them based on his rankings so I can work my way down. Thanks Patrick.

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