There are a lot of great things to see and do at this provincial park. Stay at one of the best campsites in Ontario, hike or canoe along the historic Voyageur routes, visit the museum and Ecology Centre, and explore Nearby Attractions!
Northeastern Ontario is home to one of the province's most unique provincial parks, Samuel de Champlain. With a handful of hikes that range from easy to difficult, its no wonder this provincial park is one of the top-rated parks in Ontario. On top of the hikes, this park boasts an array of private campsites, an ecology centre and museum - all on the beautiful Mattawa River.
In Canada, camping is one of the most popular activities for residents during the summer months. There is no right or wrong way to camp. Grab a tent or a trailer, pack some good food into a cooler, and purchase a bundle of firewood, then you're all set. During the day, common activities range from hiking, swimming, kayaking, to reading and relaxing. If you've never camped before you can find tons of tips and how-to's here!
Spending time in nature is actually known to reset your circadian rhythm, and create a sense of calm in individuals who participate. Along with these great benefits, Science Daily, published an article which explains that being in the wilderness is also proven to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, among others.
What To Do:
Stay at the Best Campsites in Mattawa!Most of the campsites are heavily forested on each side making you feel like you are backcountry camping! There are three different campsites available at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. Babawasse Campground is a large campsite that is just off the main park road. There are campsites along the river which offer a tranquil white noise great for falling asleep. Jingwakoki East and West Campgrounds are across a bridge just past Babawasse Campground. These campgrounds feel a little more secluded which is something we look for in a site. There are giant white pines that offer their canopy as protection for campers looking to set up camp beneath the stars.
You have the option of renting a site with or without electricity. If you need a little more room for a trailer or RV, be prepared to spend a little more per night. Tent camping, or "roughing it" as my dad likes to say, is the cheapest way to camp under the stars. Make sure you bring a sleeping mat or air mattress, because the terrain is rocky!
The entire park has a handful of comfort stations scattered about. Comfort stations have hot and cold running water, flushing toilets, electricity outlets, showers, and laundry facilities. Along with comfort stations, you can find the usual amenities such as, outhouses and water refill stations a short walk from each campsite. Our favourite sites would have to be either 193 in Jingwakoki West or 144 in Jingwakoki East. Check out the maps below to see more campsites!
Hiking Trails & Trail Map The Etienne hiking trails at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park are by far, one of the best trails in Northeastern Ontario. At Samuel, you will find a variety of treks ranging from 2.5 km to 9 km in length. The trails are "rugged" to say the least, so make sure that you bring a good pair of hiking shoes and plenty of water. Watch out for the occasional fallen tree and be sure not to loose your footing on the slightly overgrown paths. Shortly after starting the Etienne trail, the red loop trail splits off for a stunning viewpoint of the Mattawa River. This trail is good for those who want a short family-friendly hike with an epic lookout. Watch out for the steep cliffs and drop-offs.
Continue along with the Yellow, Green, and Blue trails to approach an amazing view of Long Lake. This is a perfect place to take some photos and stop for a snack break. Shortly after the first lookout point, the Yellow and Green trail splits from the Blue trail. The Yellow Trail by-passes stunning views of the Mattawa River and reconnects with the Green and Blue trail towards the end of the hike. The Green trail takes a direct route to the bridge where you get picturesque landscapes of the Mattawa River on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. The Blue trail includes more time along the cliffside, and is about 500m longer than the Green trail.
All trails (minus the Red trail) end with an easy hike through a swamp where you will balance on a plank-lined boardwalk over soggy ferns and moss-lined forest floor. Be careful because these planks can get quite slippery when wet and when covered with few leaves!
On The Water
If you are going to be spending a few days at Samuel, be sure to rent a kayak, canoe, or paddle board and get out on the water! Exploring the area on water will give you an entirely new perspective of the massive cliffs along the Canadian Shield.
Early explorers and fur-traders are said to have travelled these waters. The raw nature in Samuel has been mostly untouched by human development so hopping in a boat is a great way to get a feel for what the explorers might have experienced all those years ago.
Nearby AttractionsIf you are in the area for a few days, make sure that you check out a couple of these amazing places nearby!
Eau Claire Gorge Conservation Area - An amazing gorge and waterfall with historic significance.
Algonquin Park - Kiosk - Access Algonquin Park's northern back country with the Kiosk campsite.
Van Doeler's Ranch - A family owned ranch, complete with Rodeo horses. Try out horseback riding, and sleep under the stars in one of the cabins on the property!
The Buffalo Farm - A family-owned Buffalo Farm with quaint yurts and teepees available to rent all year long!
Antoine Mountain - One of Ontario's steepest ski hills, Antoine offers beautiful views of the Mattawa River and town of Mattawa below.
City of North Bay - Just 45 minutes east is the City of North Bay, home to Duschesney Falls and the Chief Commanda Boat Cruise.
Mattawa - Less than 15 minutes west is the town of Mattawa. Stop by the tourism office to see all the amazing trails in the area. Reviews Samuel de Champlain has a bunch of great reviews that provide helpful insights on people's experiences. You can find the TripAdvisor page here. Weather & Fire BanMake sure that you check weather and other alerts at the park prior to your departure. This can be helpful for you before you pack to make sure that you have everything to make the most out of your camping experience. You can find the 14 day forecast here and information about Fire Bans and other alerts here.