POINT PELEE NATIONAL PARK

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Ontario’s Point Pelee National Park exists in the southernmost region of Canada. The park’s fragile, natural environment exists within a narrow band of moderate temperatures supporting a variety of flora and fauna not seen in other regions of the province. It’s one of Canada’s smallest national parks at approximately 20 sq km (eight sq mi)—two thirds of which is marsh; yet, it receives over 300,000 visitors a year. Jutting out into Lake Erie, the cone-shaped land dwindles down to a point that rests on the same latitude as northern California. Our leashed dogs are welcomed to explore it all with us. A single road runs down the park’s length. Signs along the way indicate the numerous hiking trails. Over 12 km (eight mi) of them boast a variety of landscapes. The trail system includes the Marsh Boardwalk Trail, which meanders through a sea of cattails and grasses dotted with ponds; and the DeLaurier Trail, which features a cedar savannah, swamp forest and the former DeLaurier homestead and artifacts. Deeper in the park, the Visitor Centre presents assorted exhibits, the Children’s Discovery Room and the Nature Nook Book Store. Dogs are allowed in the Visitor Centre, too. This is the first national or provincial park I’ve come across in my travels that permits our furry pals inside a building. The road continues from the centre to the Tip, where a small information pavilion awaits. During the warm months, a shuttle carries you and your dog the 2 km (1.2 mi) between these two points. During the winter, the shuttle doesn’t run, so you are then permitted to use your own vehicle. From the pavilion, a .4 km (quarter mi) hike leads to the actual tip, where you can walk out to the southernmost point of mainland Canada. Keep in mind, during spring visits you may end up fighting for space amongst crowds of enthusiastic birders—most notably at the Tip. (I wonder if this is when the bulk of those 300,000 visitors come). Pt. Pelee is a well-known birders’ paradise since an extensive variety of migrating birds stop in the park as they pass through every spring and fall. It is also a favourite stopover for monarch butterflies during their fall migration. The Marsh Boardwalk           A lookout at the trailhead offers a stunning view of the marshy expanse.             Taking a break.                   A great blue heron.           There’s a wealth of nature to keep a dog’s senses intrigued.               Life on a lily pad.    
        A skater enjoys the marsh in winter.       The DeLaurier Trail                 Doorway to DeLaurier.               Relics are displayed along the pathway.             Cold pop anyone?         Eventually, you leave history behind as nature’s offerings take over.     The Tip         During the shuttle ride, Helen and Tessi observe the scenery as it rushes by.               A dance for food.                   A rest during a long journey south.             Tessi sits as far south as she can reach on mainland Canada. Beware of strong currents—this is not a place to let your dog play in the water.     To Note: I took these pictures over several visits—mostly from the fall of 2007 and the winter of 2008. For More Info
  • Point Pelee National Park for general info.
  • Point Pelee dog policy states: “Point Pelee does allow dogs, however, they have to be controlled on a leash (maximum 3 m/10 ft) and under physical control at all times to reduce any possible threat to wildlife and the habitats upon which they depend. Please remember to stoop and scoop; bag dispensers are provided at popular trailheads. Dogs are allowed in all areas of the park including the Visitor Centre, beaches and the shuttle to the tip.”
  • A Winter’s Visit to Point Pelee—Wave Journey

 (c) Cheryl Smyth, 2014

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