Ontario’s second-oldest provincial park (after Algonquin) protects the largest tract of endangered Carolinian forest in Canada on an enormous sandspit thumbing into Lake Erie, southwest of London. The park’s huge marsh, warm water, eight kilometres of beach and diverse forest attract 330 species of birds, lots of whitetail deer, and southern plants and animals such as sassafras, the Virginia opossum and soft-shell turtles. The park’s 262 camping sites also attract plenty of human visitors.
Things to do: All that sand and warm water makes it pretty easy to kill a day or two on the beach. But you should also explore the unique ecosystem. Spend a day canoeing the protected marshland on the north side of the peninsula. For hiking or biking, try the eight-kilometre South Point Trail, which loops through oak savannah, along the Lake Erie shoreline and then into Carolinian forest. The Marsh Trail is another nice walk. The best birding is probably on the Spice Bush Trail, which dekes along the transition between the deciduous woods and the open marshland. Or ditch the boots and spend the day hiking the beach around the peninsula. Other Erie shoreline parks—Long Point, Point Pelee and Turkey Point—are within an hour’s drive.