Balsam Lake is stop number one on this BWG’s 2020 Summer Camping Extravaganza. Using my aforementioned criteria, here’s my review.
Distance From Toronto
Balsam is approximately two hours from downtown Toronto, give or take depending on traffic. There are also several options for the drive (400, 401, 404) depending upon where you depart. (Point)
There is a great beach at Balsam with opportunities for shade (read hammocks!) on the perimeter. There are also two lovely walking trails throughout the campgrounds.
There was a fire ban during my stay and no canoe or kayak rentals due to COVID-19, which made for a rather boring camp experience. Previous experiences have been very positive. (Point anyway)
Water Quality and Access
The Lake at Balsam is great for swimming but the winning swim areas would be off the campsites with lake access. These campsites need to be booked months in advance. (Point…if you’re a keener)
For incredible privacy, choose the walk-in sites – you feel like you are camping alone in deep woods. The water access sites also have good privacy. Otherwise, choose your site carefully as some areas are very exposed to other camp traffic. (1/2 Point – the walk-ins are private but annoying for car camping; just go full on back country)
There are good comfort stations throughout the park as well as a laundromat but apart from that, washroom facilities are very basic including those at the beach area where there are picnic shelters and a boat launch.
The Park Store was closed due to COVID-19 with only window access during reduced hours for ice and few other supplies. (1/2 Point)
The global pandemic put a damper on the overall park experience (this may become a theme) but normally this is a pretty great spot to camp. (Rating: 4/5 – can feel like 4.5/5).