MacGregor Point Provincial Park is an amazing place to go hiking in Port Elgin, Ontario. It’s home to provincially rare and significant habitats, and it’s one of the most ecologically diverse places to visit on the shores of Lake Huron.
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These coastal freshwater wetlands, like fens, marshes, ponds, and swamps, have unusual inhabitants, like carnivorous plants and at least five provincially rare plant and animal species. It’s a fantastic environment to go birding, especially during bird migration seasons, with over 200 species of birds frequenting the park.
While you’ll have ample opportunities for wildlife viewing along several boardwalk trails around wetlands, there’s also a trail that follows the shores of Lake Huron, too. The majority of MacGregor Point Provincial Park is forested, so you’ll be able to embark on lots of shady walks in the woods, too.
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MacGregor Point Provincial Park Map
Here is a map of MacGregor Point Provincial Park. You can see all of the hiking trails around the park, as well as other important points of interest (the park store, visitor centre, parking, and comfort stations). There are five hiking trails within the park grounds:
- Huron Fringe Trail (1.2km)
- Kempf’s Trail (0.8km)
- Lake Ridge Trail (4km)
- Old Shore Road Trail (6km)
- Tower Trail (3.5km)
The Deer Run Trail (3.7km) is a bike trail that allows cyclists to safely travel within the interior of the park. The Rotary Way Trail leads outside of MacGregor Point Provincial Park should you wish to continue your hike beyond the park boundaries.
Hiking at MacGregor Point Provincial Park
There are six trails at MacGregor Point Provincial Park: five hiking trails and one biking trail. The majority of the trails are flat and easy to hike. You should be able to explore portions of all of the hiking trails in one day. I recommend walking on the Huron Fringe Trail, the Old Shore Road Trail, and the Tower Trail, if you have to choose just a few.
Huron Fringe Trail
The Huron Fringe Trail circles the Visitor Centre, and it’s a great trail for hikers of all skill levels. This boardwalk trail is accessible for those with strollers and small children, and it’s also accessible for those using wheelchairs. There are lots of benches along the way, too.
MacGregor Point Provincial Park has several significant wetlands, including fens, ponds, swamps, and marshes that are ecologically important. At the end of the boardwalk by the Visitor Centre, you’ll find the Vernal Pool.
As water travels towards Lake Huron, the ancient shorelines of the Huron Fringe prevent runoff in the spring from flowing into the lake. This creates a little wetland with an ideal environment for many rare species, like the carnivorous round-leaved sundew plant.
As you walk along the Huron Fringe Trail, you’ll discover numerous areas to view turtles and shore birds. It’s possible to spot over 200 species of birds at the park. There’s even a bird festival each spring, the Huron Fringe Birding Festival. There are also several interpretive signs where you can learn more about the habitats that you’ll encounter on the way.
Old Shore Road Trail
While 90% of MacGregor Point Provincial Park is forested, the Old Shore Road Trail follows the shoreline of Lake Huron for 6km. It used to be a portion of the transportation route between Goderich and Southampton.
From the Visitor Centre, walk along the Old Shore Road Trail to Sunset Point. This is a really beautiful place in the park and shouldn’t be missed. There’s a picnic table at Sunset Point if you’re looking for a pretty spot to have a picnic lunch. Also, it’s a fantastic place to watch the sunset.
From Sunset Point, walk back south and then continue east on the Old Shore Road Trail. You’ll eventually reach a viewpoint overlooking a marl wetland. This is a unique and most fragile ecosystem at MacGregor Point Provincial Park.
Marl is a greyish mud that’s generally a very poor quality of soil, due to its low levels of essential nutrients like nitrogen. Plants have adapted to grow in these infertile conditions. The Pitcher Plant Marl is a carnivorous plant that you can see growing here. They use their leaves to capture and digest insects.
The Tower Trail is a 3.5km loop trail in the interior of the park that will take approximately 1.5 hours to walk. This hiking trail at MacGregor Point Provincial Park encircles a wetland where you’ll have the opportunity to view many birds, turtles, and more.
There are some gravel and dirt sections of the trail, as well as some boardwalks. Furthermore, there are plenty of interpretive signs along the way where you’ll learn about the forests and habitats of the park.
About halfway through the hike, you’ll come across a two story tower where you can observe wildlife from up above. The viewing platform overlooks the wetland. Bring a pair of binoculars and you’ll see kingfishers, herons, turtles, and more. Depending on the season, you might even be able to spot migrating birds, like the Black-crowned Night Heron and the American Egret.
Continuing on your way, keep walking around the wetlands and eventually you’ll reach a small building. This is the bird hide. There are benches inside the bird hide, and multiple places to view wildlife at water level without the wildlife noticing you.
This is my first time coming across a bird hide at a provincial park. Coupled with the viewing tower, this trail has many unique opportunities to observe the birds and animals that live at the park.
Lake Ridge Trail
I didn’t hike on the Lake Ridge Trail this time around. It is another interior loop within the park. The Ontario Parks website states that it is rougher terrain and you will need proper hiking boots on this moderate hike.
The trail is named after the shoreline ridge of the Lake Nipissing glacier from 5,500 years ago. There’s a boardwalk overlooking an abandoned lodge and an old beaver pond.
Kempf’s Trail is a short trail (less than 1km) off the main road near the Tower Trail. I ended up completing the full loop of the Tower Trail without venturing off it. However, you could walk from the Tower Trail to Kempf’s Trail and down to Lake Huron, connecting with the Old Shore Road Trail if you wished.
Plan Your Visit to MacGregor Point Provincial Park
MacGregor Point Provincial Park is located in Port Elgin, about three hours from Toronto. Visitors love to go camping here, and you can also easily plan a hiking day trip. You can also go canoeing and kayaking on Lake Huron (but watch for changing weather conditions) and the nearby Saugeen River.
As this is an operating provincial park, there are lots of facilities like restrooms, comfort stations, picnic shelters, a visitor centre and a park store. There’s a sandy beach at MacGregor Point Provincial Park. Plus, you can go camping here or spend the night in one of 12 yurts.
Please note that there are day rate fees to visit MacGregor Point Provincial Park. Like most provincial parks in Ontario, you pay one flat rate per car. I suggest picking up an Ontario Parks annual pass if you plan on visiting five or more parks a year, as it will end up paying for itself in time.
What to Bring on a Hike
A proper pair of hiking shoes is an absolute must. It’s also a good idea to bring sunscreen and lots of water, too. My water bottle of choice is the GRAYL Purifier because you can drink ANY water from any source, no matter what. Water from lakes, streams, rivers, public restrooms, you name it. It’s the world’s fastest portable purifier. Get your hands on one ASAP!
Don’t forget to pack some bug spray because there can be biting bugs depending on the time of year. Even if there aren’t any signs, it’s safe to assume that ticks are all over Ontario hiking trails. Protect yourself against ticks by reading our guide to avoiding ticks on the trails.
Where to Stay in Port Elgin
There are lots of fantastic accommodations in Port Elgin, Ontario, whether you stay at a hotel or a vacation rental. Feel free to browse the map below to find the perfect place to stay in Port Elgin or anywhere else near MacGregor Point Provincial Park.
More Hikes in Bruce, Grey and Simcoe Counties
Looking for more hiking trails in Bruce County, Grey County or Simcoe County? Here are the Ontario Hiking guides that we have for you so far:
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