Insider’s guide to summer holidays in Prince Edward County
Last summer had its moments, didn’t it? We just weren’t ready for the crowds that came our way. But we’ve learned a few things, and after a brutally long lockdown, we could all use a getaway. So here are some insider tips to make this summer a great one!
Wellington Rotary Beach
Visitors using Wellington Rotary Beach on weekends and holidays will be charged $10 per person to enter. You are welcome to bring your own food, but cooking devices must be left at home. There will also be two food vendors on site. There is no reservation system, so it’s first come / first served. The beach will close when it reaches 350 users.
Want to avoid all that? If your swimming skills are decent, consider hiring a charter and use it to get on the water. You can find charter companies and more ways to get on the water here: https://www.visitpec.ca/do/boating-fishing/
Wellington Rotary Beach Boat Launch
The ramp at Wellington Rotary Beach will have limited access on weekends and holidays. The ramp will be unavailable for launch from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Boats returning to shore during those hours will still be able to leave the water using the ramp. These limits on ramp hours are to help manage parking, visitor volumes and safety at the beach.
Parking fees at Boat Launches
This year, The County is introducing a $20 parking fee for vehicles with trailers, and a $10 fee for vehicles alone, at all of its municipal boat launches. That means kayakers, canoeists and SUPpers will need to pay $10 to park at a municipal launch. If you’re intending to make frequent use of municipal launches, you may consider purchasing a season’s pass, good for the entire 2021 calendar year, for $100+HST. You can buy a pass in person (COVID permitting) at Shire Hall, 332 Picton Main Street. Or You can call Customer Service at 613-476-2148 x. 1023 for assistance in purchasing a pass online. Please have your name, number, address and email at the ready, as well as the licence plate for the vehicle you’ll connect to the pass.
Hot tip: Download the app from MacKay Pay. It’s the paid parking system used across The County. Pay by app in rural or remote areas; pay by machine in Picton. Find it at Google Play or the Apple Store.
New No Parking Zones
Fines of $400 are now being applied to 12 areas where parked vehicles presented challenges to the flow of traffic and/or access for emergency vehicles. See the maps, below, for more detail.
If you do get a ticket, you can pay via https://www.thecounty.ca/residents/make-a-payment/parking-tickets/.
Unless you’re booked into a campground, skip setting up a sneaky tent or stealing down a sideroad with the RV. Fines have increased to $500, and additional bylaw officers will be out enforcing these rules. Book ahead, or look north to our friends in Bay of Quinte. They’re a nature enthusiast’s paradise, and they’ve got lots of ideas for where to camp here.
Little Bluff Conservation Area has re-opened, with an improved parking area, signage, dedicated staff, washrooms and an entrance gate. Fees to enter Little Bluff are $15 per vehicle. However, the conservation area will close once at capacity and the parking lot holds just 30 vehicles.
Along with all Ontario Parks, Sandbanks and North Beach Provincial Parks will both be free Mondays to Thursdays for day visitor use, for the entirety of their season. Starting June 7, reserve your spot at Sandbanks and North Beach provincial parks using a new day use reservation system. This can be done up to five days in advance of your trip. Please check Ontario Parks for more information.
This summer, Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park will have dedicated staff on site to enforce parking. To park for up to two hours, the fee is $3. To park up from two to four hours, the fee is $6.50. Please note that the area around Lake on the Mountain is one of the areas where vehicles parked on the sides of the road are subject to $400 parking violation tickets.
Maps for Public Washrooms, Picnic Areas, Information Spots
Wanna feast al fresco? We’ve got a map for that too. Find more info here: visitpec.ca/2020/06/24/where-to-picnic-in-prince-edward-county/
Ready for a ride but not ready for the road? We’ve got a trail for that. The Millennium Trail goes clear across The County, a total of 46 km. It’s a former rail bed, so it’s mostly flat, and has been rehabilitated by a remarkable team of volunteers to fairly smooth too. Find a map of its highlights here, and a blog with everything you need to know here.
Try The County way of life
Last summer was hard on everybody. A few visitors got fed up and frustrated and did things we wished they hadn’t. As a host community fearful of the COVID virus, sometimes we weren’t as welcoming as we’d normally be. The pandemic got to all of us. This summer, our goal is to “Be More County,” and we hope you’ll try it too.
What’s that mean?
Be more County by:
• Slowing down. On roads, through a meal or through the day
• Spreading friendly vibes by doing the neighbourly thing: wave in traffic, give tractors and cyclists space on the roads, share the sidewalks
• Leaving park paths, shorelines, forest floors and waterways better than you found them
• Remembering that farms, parks and beaches are carefully managed eco-systems, not just awesome Instagram backdrops
• Remembering that sound travels beyond tables and fences, across tasting rooms, landscapes and bodies of water… and even in the dark
• Being patient, flexible and kind
And hey, if you can wait to visit, you WILL be rewarded. Fall is when The County truly shines. Consider a mid-September or October visit, when the humidity drops, the bugs go away and the crowds thin. Trust us: it’s magic.