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Natural Features
When the glaciers receded from what is now southern Ontario, more than 12,700 years ago, they left behind land and water formations much as they are found today. The southern and southwestern shores of what is now Prince Edward County were exposed to the waves driven by prevailing southwesterly winds, creating ideal conditions for the development of baymouth sandbars and dunes.

Two spectacular stretches of sand dunes -- including the West Lake formation, considered the largest freshwater baymouth sand dune system in the world -- make this park unique and memorable. Many of the dunes are between 12 m and 25 m high. The beaches are among the finest in the province, where golden sand and sparkling water make an ideal partnership.

The fauna and flora that thrive in this shifting, arid landscape are remarkably diverse. Some of the more unusual plants found in the park are bluets, hoary puccoon, sea rocket and sand spurge. The open dunes with their juniper heaths, the pine, maple, hemlock and cedar forests, the pannes (a distinctive coastal meadow marsh found in sandy shorelines) and wetlands all offer a wealth of different species.

Sandbanks attracts many birds, especially in the fall. Species recorded here include marsh wren, swamp sparrow, pileated woodpecker, white-throated sparrow and little gull. Small mammals common to the area include varying hares, raccoons, chipmunks, fox and deer. Several species of amphibian and reptile can also be spotted in the park.

Park Facilities and Activities
The park's 549 campsites are usually reserved well in advance for the peak season in July and August, although some are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are 140 electrical sites and each campsite has a picnic table and fireplace grill. Drinking water taps are close to all sites. Washrooms with shower facilities are scattered throughout the campgrounds. The park store sells camping supplies and souvenirs and a restaurant serves breakfast, light meals and fast food items. The Friends of Sandbanks Park Nature Shoppe is open daily in the Visitor Centre selling souvenirs, clothing, books and toys. The park is open from April 1 until the end of October.

There are two choices for visitors interested in staying in roofed accomodations at Sandbanks. Newly restored The Maple Rest Heritage House has four full bedrooms, each with a private bathroom located on the shores of Lake Ontario, Jacques Family Cottage offers room to sleep six and is fully equipped. For more information visit the roofed accommodations section of our site.

With three wide, clean sandy beaches and shallow, safe waters, swimming is understandably one of the favorite park activities, along with windsurfing, sailing, canoeing, and boating. There are two boat launches in the park.

Both East Lake and West Lake have good populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, pike, perch and other panfish. The nearby Bay of Quinte is known as one of the best locations in North America for catching walleye.

Hikers will enjoy the self-guided Cedar Sands Trail, which meanders through a series of open and forested dunes on the East Lake sandbar, providing a chance to learn about the ecology of the dune forest and viewing platforms overlooking the Outlet River.

In the winter, when snow condition permits, 10 km of track-set cross country ski trails are available as well as a warming shack complete with woodstove.

Interpretive activities include guided walks, evening slide and film presentations, campfires, children's programs and "spirit walks": nightly strolls with one or more costumed park interpretive staff playing the role of local historical figures. Programmes run daily through the summer.

Location: South of Belleville, on the Lake Ontario shore of Prince Edward County. Take Highway 62 south to County Road 12

For more information:
Sandbanks Provincial Park
R.R. 1
Picton, Ontario
K0K 2T0
(613) 393-3319
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