Port Burwell Provincial Park offers the warm waters of Lake Erie and better than average campsites for provincial parks in the area. The Southern Ontario location makes Port Burwell a great choice for those who want to start their camping season earlier in spring or extend it later in the fall.
Environment: Port Burwell Provincial Park is situated near the tiny village of Port Burwell, midway along the north shore of Lake Erie in Southern Ontario. The park features wetlands, meadows, forests (maple, beech, oak, etc.), beaches, dunes and bluffs. There are many wind turbines in the area and the turbines can easily be seen from the beach.
Beach: There is a 2.5-kilometre long beach and the beach is the main draw to this park. The park is designed in a way that there isn’t quick access to the beach from the campground, although you could access the beach from a hiking trail. We found that most campers, including ourselves, ended up driving to the beach.
Camping: There are 232 campsites (123 with hydro) that are split among three campgrounds (Alzora, Iroquois and Leander). Port Burwell is also provisioned for group camping. We camped at Alzora campground on site #27 because it was close to the large play area and amphitheatre. The play area is one of the largest that I have seen in any Ontario Provincial Park.
Fishing: Local fishing includes: Catfish, Perch, Pickerel and Smelt.
Hiking: The Beach Trail is a two-kilometre loop that takes you from the campground to the beach and features a 20-metre bluff. The Ravine Creek Trail is a one-kilometre loop that travels through a forest. You can also just hike along the beach.
Shopping: The village of Port Burwell (approximately 1,000 people) is located just outside of the park. Don’t forget to stop for ice cream at the southwest end of town. The ice cream is good and you will have a nice view of Lake Erie.
The Amphitheatre: The Amphitheatre is located by the playfield and is easily accessible from the Alzora and Leander campgrounds.
The Port Burwell Lighthouse (circa 1840):
If you take a drive through the village of Port Burwell, you must stop at the Port Burwell Lighthouse. You can walk inside and climb the steps to the top of the lighthouse for a good view of the area. In fact if you go to the ice cream shop, you will drive right by it.
Wildlife: Port Burwell is known to be a good location for seeing spring and fall migrations. Fall migrations include: butterflies, dragonflies, blue jays and raptors (eagles, hawks and vultures).
In Conclusion: The July-August occupancy rate for 2009 was 81%, meaning that this is one of the most difficult parks in the Ontario Parks system to get a campsite at. This is a nice, quiet little spot that does not get as busy as other provincial parks on Lake Erie because there aren’t as many day-trippers to the beach. Three nights will give you a chance to see the park in detail and it is worth spending more time there if you just want to hang out by the beach.
My Park Rating: 3 out of 5