Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Conestogo Lake - Waterloo

Conestogo Lake is part of the Grand River Conservation Area which also manages Pinehurst Lake.  The two parks are similar in that they have a sandy beach with a shallow entry which is great for kids.  
Making water tunnels on the sandy beach.
Conestogo Lake is great for sailing, boating and windsurfing as well since it is quite breezy.  
My husband trying out his new toy.
Unfortunately, that is about all Conestogo Lake has to offer. There are no biking or hiking trails (their website claims that there is a short hiking trail, but it really takes about 10 minutes so I don't know that you can even count that!), no visitor's centre and at least when we were there, no programs for kids.  If your kids like the beach and the weather is nice then you will have a good time but if your kids get tired of the beach or you get bad weather you are out of luck.  There is a small playground not far from the beach but it is only suitable for kids under about eight since anyone older than that will be able to touch the ground while on the monkey bars.  The slide is also weird in that it hurls the kids off at the bottom so if you have little ones, be ready to catch them!
Trying out our new kid's kayak, "The Big Banana".  This thing was a big hit with
our kids and other kids at the beach.  We got ours at Costco but you\
can find similar ones at Canadian Tire and similar places.
Even the beach has two downsides.  One, the thing that makes Conestogo Lake great for sailing and windsurfing - the breeze - makes it chillier than most beaches.  That can be nice on a blazing hot day but if it is anything less than sweltering your kids will likely get cold quickly.  Two, there are no proper bathrooms near the beach.  There is just an outhouse type bathroom near the beach.  The closest bathroom with flush toilets is about a 10 minute walk away from the beach.  There are change rooms near the beach but they are totally dark (seriously, there is no light whatsoever in the change rooms, so once you close the door you are basically in a dark closet) and full of spiders which needless to say was not a big hit with my kids.  While we are on the subject of bathrooms, I mentioned that Pinehurst could use some more bathrooms in my review of that park, but the situation is even more dire at Conestogo.  There are two bathrooms, each with four stalls in the whole campground which has almost 200 campsites plus all of the day users who go there for fishing, boating and swimming and there are two showers (well, four, presumably since I am guessing there are also two in the men's bathrooms) for the whole campground.  You also need quarters (quite a few) to take a shower so bring a roll of quarters if you are there with your family.  
Has anyone ever actually managed to dry their hands with one of these old
\school dryers?  Do I have unusually unabsorbent hands or something?
One thing my kids got a kick out of was the horse and buggies that you see in and around the park.  The park is right in the middle of Mennonite country so you see quite a few on your way but you also see some in the park.  Apparently, the park is a popular fishing place for the locals.
They have a horse and buggy parking lot.
 My kids also liked the over priced popsicles.  Big surprise! They do have a small snack bar at the park (although, again, about a 10 minute walk from the beach) where you can get fries and hot dogs and popsicles.

My kids liked Conestogo Lake but they are pretty easy going.  You give them a beach, some horses to look at and a popsicle and they are in heaven so it wasn't a total bust.  I just can't recommend it over any other conservation area, at least not for camping. If it is a hot day and you are looking for a beach and you are in the area, it is worth a day trip though.

Picking wildflowers by the snack bar.

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