Sandbanks Provincial Park

" The following is an article written by Kevin Stuart about his trip to Sandbanks Provincial Park. To truly appreciate Sandbanks Provincial Park, you need to visit it in person. Have fun! Visit their website (click HERE) for more information."

Kevin Stuart

by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Kevin Stuart

The Great Escape
There are few better ways to spend a summer afternoon escaping it all than a day at the beach. For several years now my wife and I have visited the Dunes Beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park and since our son came along, he’s been a part of this annual trek. It was word of mouth that originally piqued our interest and it was the atmosphere it conjures up that has kept us returning. Even the drive to the West Lake on which the beach is located is a leisurely and picturesque on through some of the most historic territory in the whole province, known as the Loyalist Trail.

The Birth of the Dunes...
The current ecology of the area began to take shape more than a century ago when vegetation starting disappearing from the dunes. Trees had been felled and cattle grazing on the area all contributed to the dunes gradually took over everything in their path. By the middle of the 20th century it was decided that trees had to be returned to stem the spreading with the establishment of a forestry station. An intensive planting program was put into effect by the 1950’s where an estimated 3 million trees were planted which finally slowed the spreading of the sand. Today a walk along the Dunes Trail by the day use area provides a reminder of the importance of looking after this unique aspect of nature. It currently has the distinction of being home to the world’s largest freshwater baymouth barrier sand dune system.

To the Beach!
From the Sandbanks Provincial Park's parking area to the actual beach is a relatively short walk and there’s almost always a shady spot to stake your claim for a few hours, courtesy of those trees we mentioned. The shallow water stretches around most of the perimeter allowing space for many individuals and families partaking in their own various water activities. Over the last few years it has changed slightly in that the gradual slope suddenly deepens about 70 feet from the shore but is well marked. It is on the other side that those with watercraft often indulge in their pleasure.

Walking the Dunes...
For our most recent visit the water was quite calm, though other times the waves provide another element of excitement for those who love to play in the water. Of course, many of us like to see the view from the top of the highest dune. It does take a bit of grunting if you’re not in tip-top form but it affords an overall view of the West Lake area. All the same, it’s not something that should be recommended as a regular exercise as the dunes are considered environmentally sensitive.

More To Enjoy...
Other immediate features are a playground area and concession stand on site along with complete change rooms and foot washing so that less of the beach will ride home with you. For those who love the outdoors there are camping facilities to be found. Just remember there are many who have discovered this jewel so book your site early in the season. The park hosts a number of events throughout the year and there are attractions in the nearby towns of Picton, Bloomfield and Wellington. Complete details on park activities are available at the Visitor’s Centre or by calling (613) 393-3319.