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“Good campground close to Toronto”

Mara Provincial Park
Ranked #8 of 31 things to do in Orillia
Attraction details
Toronto
Level Contributor
42 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Good campground close to Toronto”
Reviewed 3 August 2014

My husband and I and our two children booked a two night stay at Mara, but due to weather only spent one night. The campsites are really quite average, not much privacy, close together, decent shade, but gravel/sand cover. The campground has a nice beach, but the playground is abysmal (metal slide!). We have been to Mara three times now and what brings us back is that we really like how close this site is to Orillia. If you need a pharmacy, groceries or camping supplies, it is all just a short drive into town.

Also it about a 10 minute drive to a water front playground and splash pad which is an excellent spot for young kids. Our two kids alternated between the beach, swimming, the splash pad and the playground, with a break for ice cream somewhere in the middle of all of that. The beach is well watched, with 2 life guards on duty when we were there. The water is nice, not to much seaweed, and is quite shallow for some distance out. I highly recommend this playground/beach if you have kids and you're staying at Mara.

Regarding the campground - we may be back, but our next trip is to Bass Lake, also in Orillia, to see if the sites are any nicer.

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
Thank Jenn77Toronto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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41 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Bowmanville
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Meh!!”
Reviewed 1 July 2014

Maras sites were fairly good. If
You don't mind not A lot of privacy as that doesn't bother me. Beach was very clean and water was beautiful!! My biggest peeve was the showers stations and washrooms. We have travelled to various provincial parks and they have all been at the same very high standards. Mara was not. It was constantly disgusting. And I don't mean the floors as obviously they will get dirty from mud. I'm talking about the toilet seats!! Wet toilet paper mixed with muddy foot prints all over the seats!!! Obviously there were certain people being disrespectful for other people. We won't go back there.

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Glampers4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Belleville, Canada
Level Contributor
45 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Muddy Nature Trail”
Reviewed 16 January 2014

Mara Provincial Park has a large beach, which is unique to the provincial parks in the Lake Simcoe area. It is a large sandy beach, meant for swimmers of all ages, unlike what is found at McRae Point, Bass Lake or Sibbald Point. However, it also has a nature trail through a wetland, not far from the beach. I was there for a short visit, in fact shorter than trips to other nearby provincial parks as I was in more of a walking than a swimming mood.

I found the wetland trail to be so muddy that you would need rubber boots for much of it. There was some heavy rain in May and June, but my visit was in July and that rain had not occurred for several weeks. There are some short wooden plank sections, but otherwise, heavy mud. They are better off making a boardwalk for most of the length of the trail, if they want it to be a destination. It would also be safer. A similar situation caused the closure of a nature trail at Sibbald Point, about 40 minutes away, in June. The beach is really the predominant natural feature of this park though.

Nature walks and hiking seem to be more of a feature at nearby Bass Lake or McRae Point. I personally find wetland trails to be interesting, as you can encounter interesting plants and animals. Frogs and birds can be spotted there quite easily. Bring your camera if you want to take your chances. Just be prepared for a very sticky, muddy walk.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Joseph G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Stayner, Canada
Level Contributor
14 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Mara small”
Reviewed 11 August 2013

Visited this park on a walk in basis for three nights...Site was not bad considering it is a non reservable site....due to some problems we had to stay on one site for 1 night and then go up to the office before 9 the next day to get one of the two sites that should become available after 2 that day. (walkin sites)....Got there at 745......another lady who was already camping was there and had been there since 645 in order to book a site for her son.......and promptly put me in my place saying I was here first and I am served first.....that's okay.....we did get the 2nd site, but my question is....since the sites were non reservable on a first come first served basis...why was that lady able to book a non reservable site for her son who was not coming until the evening....I thought that a walk in site had to be just that....you had to be there......Unfair to travellers (if her son was already there, would have been a different story,,,,I was told that you could not come in in the morning and use the walkin site, and then return home to get ready to come...You have to leave a vehicle or camping gear on the site.
Anyway 2nd problem....some families seem to think that when they buy a day pass that entitles them to a camp site (DOESNT MATTER WHICH ONE, AS LONG AS THERE IS NOTHING ON IT.) Happened across from us. The campers on that site had a Rv which they drove to wherever they went to during the day and then returned to find that a family was having a picnic on their site.......you would have thought that the Park rangers that drove around that day would have clued in......big family...no tents.....no sleeping facilities at all....what are they doing on that site....they should have checked...the poor family that had paid for that site had to wait until the family cleared up their mess before they could go on their site....
Sites are large, but very dirty due to the shade...no grass......would hate to be there if it was raining....,
On a good thought...the young lady that was in the office on August 8 (evening) was just wonderful.......also the next morning.......
Probably will not return to this park.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank cathederal24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Whitby, Canada
Level Contributor
43 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“OK, not great”
Reviewed 22 July 2013

Mara is a very small park, for what that is worth.

We booked our site rather last minute and had to accept a site of poor quality and poor privacy, however when we toured the park it appeared as if all sites wery pretty poor for both privacy and quality.

The park was only an hour drive from Whitby, so it's good from a convenience point of view, although I would pick Balsam Lake or Sibbald ahead of Mara.

Beach was very deep which was nice but was fairly short, still lots of room on a busy day. Swimming was fine, lots of big boats, and generally seemed like eveyone was enjoying themselves.

Park is very close to Casino Rama.

We had a great trip, and if Mara is convenient for you I wouldn't discourage going there but there are definately better Provincial Parks out there, albeit some with much longer drives.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank MikeW54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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