Mara Provincial Park – May 2015
We spent our first long weekend camping in May at Mara Provincial Park. We left home on Thursday night and arrived at the park about three hours later. Mara is located just outside of Orillia, ON on the northern part of Lake Simcoe. Our drive North was pretty good with only some minor traffic slow downs when we headed north out of Toronto on Hwy#400. The park was about 8 km off the highway but the way we took bypassed downtown Orillia.
I must say, our campsite #23 looked way better than it did in the reservation photos online. It was very large, very level, very private and yet well maintained with a great buffer around it. It was extremely easy to back into and set up. We were a short walk from the comfort stations and showers although we used our own facilities. I did scope them out and they were very, very clean. In fact, the entire park was very clean. No litter anywhere! The roads were nice and the grass in the park and along the shoulders cut back low. I’ve always thought this was important when it comes to ticks! It was early in the year, but we found the campground very quiet as well with regular patrols.
Here are some photos of Mara taken while walking around:
So, what is there to do at Mara? Well, it’s located along the shores of Lake Simcoe so weather depending, there is a beautiful beach to enjoy, an area to launch a kayak or canoe, playgrounds in the park and a very short hiking trail! Back to the beach! If hanging out at a beach on a sunny day is something you enjoy – you won’t be disappointed at Mara. The beach is sandy and well maintained. It’s clean and fairly large too. I didn’t hike the short trail while at Mara, due to the bugs. There were lots of bugs but fortunately most were not the biting kind. The mosquitoes were average, but bug spray and campfires kept them away for the most part. Here are some photos of the lake/beach area at Mara!
There were other areas to access the water fairly close to the park such as McRae Point Provincial Park, which is about 20 minutes further along Hwy#12 or even closer, a public launch on Hwy#12 which you pass on the way to Mara. It’s a full launch for larger motorboats and smaller craft. As well, there’s a pretty park that rents kayaks with an ice cream stand and some walking trails. It’s a very pretty area!
We took our kayaks, but Dave was the brave one that decided to actually try kayak fishing on Lake Simcoe. I was too cold on Friday and I found it too windy. Dave tried, but the wind blew him off the water fairly quickly. By Saturday the temperatures had begun to warm nicely, especially into the afternoon. He went out again and had a much nicer time on the water. The water depth was pretty shallow for quite a ways out and fishing different areas from his kayak yielded nothing. It was a beautiful day on the water!
Campfires were plentiful as was relaxation and cold beverages!
As provincial parks go, Mara is one of the smaller ones. It has a total of 105 campsites of which 33 have electric hookups. There are some pull thrus located at Mara but watch for a pad slope when booking. In fact, when booking online, take note of pad slopes for all sites. Some would be hard to level. You’ll find both 15 amp and 30 amp on the post and no water hookups. There are always plenty of water taps located throughout the campground and a water filling station where you can fill your water tank on your RV. The one great thing about the size of Mara is that you can walk anywhere easily. You can walk to the comfort station, beach, playground and park office. Despite its small size, the sites are decently private and the campground has a nice woodsy look that makes it feel much larger.
We’d like to camp at McRae Point as well since we’ve never stayed there, but Mara is definitely one of our new favorites and we’ll take time to come back again. Next time, I’ll book it for June or later so kayaking is more enjoyable. I’d recommend this park for sure!
Here are some links to the park websites:
One thing I have to share from our trip out – we’d been having some electrical issues with our battery before coming to Mara. Our dealer was supposed to send a technician out before we left for this trip, but he didn’t make it in time. We knew that we were good as long as we were hooked up to shore power, but we knew that we had no power when not hooked up. Our battery, although fully charged basically gave no power to the lights, slides, awning, jacks nor anything else. The dealer was sure of the issue, it was just making time to have it repaired. Wouldn’t you know it, due to Hydro One working on lines in the area, we lost power Sunday morning just as we finished breakfast. Of all times, this would have been the one when we should have brought our generator, but neither of us thought about it. Fortunately the park brought their portable generator to our campsite so we could put our slides and everything in to leave. We were very grateful for the friendly service of the park staff! Well, that’s it for our review of Mara! Next trip out for us will be to another new park – Deer Creek Conservation Area!