Selkirk Provincial Park is a quiet, cozy campground, nestled on the shores of Lake Erie. Here is our review of our time spent there ... with a little Baz Luhrmann and Facebook drama thrown in, for good measure!
As it was late in the reservation season at the time, most of our PP reservations are a bit later in the summer/fall.
We were able to secure a reservation at this park, though, so decided to try it out. The park is just a short drive from Hamilton, after all - less than an hour!
It’s also less than half an hour from Port Dover - in Haldimand County - so the location is good for a quick day trip.
Unfortunately - As with our time at Conestogo Lake Conservation Area - this camping trip started out on such a sour note, I feel bad posting about it.
The thing is, the circumstances behind us booking here ... kind of make us feel like we SHOULD be highlighting the issues.
More on that in a few minutes, though. I’ll save that weird bit of drama for the end of the post!
Campground Name: Selkirk Provincial Park
Address: 151 Wheeler’s Sideroad, R.R. # 1, Selkirk, ON, N0A 1P0
Website: Selkirk Provincial Park
Price Ontario Provincial Parks uses a pricing matrix across all their parks. See 2023 Camping Fees for more details.
Reservations: Ontario Parks Reservations
Campground Amenities & Info
Overall, the park seemed clean and fairly well maintained, with some glaring exceptions.
Online reservations were through the Ontario Parks site, which is a SLICK system - very user friendly.
It can be a tad overwhelming at first - so many options - but once you’ve found a site or two, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for.
Check in was simple, quick, and easy - we did have to go into the store at the park entrance to do so, as their window was not in operation when we signed in.
The store was small, but carried the basics that you’d expect - souvenirs, ice, snacks, firewood, etc.
The signage in the park could definitely be improved upon, especially when it comes to directionality.
In doing a quick drive through, there were a few times where we felt like we’d gone the wrong way - that it was probably intended to be a one way street - with absolutely no signage to state as much.
Unlike some campgrounds, the park map is pretty decent - some issues with proportions, that’s about it.
Love that the map has an indicator of scale/distance, though - we haven’t seen many that do!
Cell reception was decent to good for the duration of our stay, even in the camper when the reflectors were on the windows.
There did not seem to be a wifi option for this park.
There are four campgrounds in the park, two of which are serviced - 2 and 4 - and two which are not (1 and 3).
Each campground has a vault toilet, with only one campground - #2 - having a full comfort station with showers, flush toilets, and laundry facilities.
It’s a small enough park that the comfort station is probably less than a 10 minute walk from anywhere in the park.
We didn’t make use of the comfort station during our stay, so can’t really comment on the condition.
In addition to the vault toilets near the center of each campground, there is also a couple of vault toilet buildings on / near the beach area.
Additionally, there is a garbage and recycling center near the front entrance.
Entertainment and Activity
As with most of the parks we’ve booked at, water is the main attraction at Selkirk park.
There are two small beaches on the park map, with one designated as a dog beach. Neither one is staffed by lifeguards, so use at your own risk.
Both feature shallow waters, which start out rocky on the shore, and become sandy several meters out.
The sand part is what we’ve been told, anyway - the beach and water were both so disgusting during our stay, that we did not make use of them.
The shallow Lake Erie beaches were very, VERY slimy, and the water was very brown and gross - I wonder if maybe it rained recently?
Near the beach is a wide open picnic area, with sparse picnic tables scattered throughout.
We discovered that there’s another, more secluded beach there. It’s not labeled on the park map, but is definitely part of the park property.
This beach was much nicer, though I still wouldn’t necessarily think of it as a “swimming beach” - just nicer to walk along.
We were camping on weekdays, so I have no idea if they ever get busy, or how popular the unlabeled beach may be. The weather was nice, so I was surprised at how empty the beaches were.
Apparently fishing is a popular activity in this section of Lake Erie, with lots of perch available, as well as bass and catfish.
Sports & Play
In the field near the beaches / picnic area, there’s a volleyball net, as well as a decent sized playground area.
There’s also horseshoe pits set up in Campground 4, right off the main road, near the beach.
In terms of Niantic games, there is a gym and a Pokestop / 2 Ingress portals at the beach, both accessible from a couple park benches that lay between the main beach and the dog beach.
There are also 4 portals / 2 pokesstops at the main entrance. None are within range of any of the camp sites, but again - not a super far walk.
While there isn’t a lot in the way of hardcore hiking, there’s a short hiking trail - Wheeler’s Walk Trail - a short path that loops through some hardwood forest and marsh area.
It’s a nice winding trail through the hickory woods, not a lot of hills or obstacles for those on foot, through some large overhanging branches may pose issues for those on bikes - just keep your eyes open!
The boardwalk was a really cool feature to experience, walking through a bunch of marshy vegetation that was coming up onto the boardwalk itself.
On first walk, the trail loop was probably 1.2 km, once you access the trail itself from the road. We later realized that the second loop is actually two loops - we took the smaller loop and accidentally missed the larger section.
Apparently the two loops that make that second loop are about 1 km together, with the first loop also being a km or so.
From our camp site - #144, close to the beach - walking up the main road, to Wheeler’s Walk Trail, most of that trail (minus the second part of the second loop) and back to our campsite was 2.8 km, total. So, probably 3.5 km if we hadn’t missed the section.
WEAR BUG SPRAY.
No, I’m not going to launch into a bastardized version of “Everybody’s Free (to Wear Suncreen)”, even with as much as my brain is trying to take me there.
Though, if I could offer you only one tip for your future walking at Selkirk, bug spray would be it
The long-term benefits of avoiding tick bites have been proven by scientists...
CRAP. Sorry. Couldn’t stop myself.
Anyway, there are a LOT of ticks, mosquitos, and flys around here. Be safe!
Also, a tip: Apparently if you take an antihistamine before you know you’re going to be exposed to mosquito bites, the fallout isn’t as bad / not as itchy.
Haven’t tried it personally, but figured I’d pass that along.
... but trust me on the bug spray.
There are serviced and unserviced campgrounds, with a wide variety of RV sizes and tent set ups all over the place.
I think most of the serviced camp grounds are back-in sites, though we did see some pull-through sites when we took a quick drive through the park.
Lot size seems to be decent to large, with a few generous group sites available as well - right near the beach.
Most of the sites had decent to good privacy, our site was fairly open though, being a corner site.
One major issue we had with our site was that the ground was VERY rough, especially in the area right outside of our camper door.
It looked like someone had driven though with a big tractor on a wet day, then allowed the ground to dry like that.
Having a wonky achilles, this was a major accessibility issue for me, and definitely negatively impacted our stay.
For more able bodied people, it may be not as much of a big deal, beyond mostly cosmetic.
Definitely want to avoid twisting ankles, though!
Nothing super offensive, nothing to write home about.
Unlike the majority of sites in Ontario Parks Campgrounds, a good number of the camp sites in Selkirk Provincial Park include both hydro and water.
Apparently this used to be a Conservation Area campground, and those do tend to have water hookups - at least in this general area!
The power and hydro hookups were in the back of our site, set into some bushes - not far from our camper at all.
While we didn’t personally see poison ivy ourselves, we’ve read that it can be an issue for some sites in this campground.
While there is no sewer hookup in the sites themselves, there is a single dump station and water fill site - the trailer sanitation station - in a loop off Campground #2, near the park entrance.
Aside from the accessibility issues at our own site, the campground is more or less *decently* accessible, in my experience.
The distance between any two points in the park isn’t super far, and the roads are more or less ok. (Not paved, but pretty well packed/even).
When it comes to the trail, it’s not really wheelchair accessible, though it’s short/flat enough to mostly be ok for those with other mobility issues.
Getting to the vault toilets at the beach - and down to the beach, for that matter - involves walking over grass, there are no paved paths.
Pets are allowed at this park, and there is a dedicated dog beach / pet exercise area.
That said, they do have some specific rules for pets:
1. All pets are to be kept on leashes no longer than 2 meters / 6 feet in length.
2. You MUST clean up after you pet - capitalized emphasis is theirs.
3. Pets are not to be left unattended at any time.
4. Pets are not allowed on the main beach, just the dog beach. (Honestly, they’re not missing anything, and the dog beach is probably even a little nicer than the main beach.)
Most / all of the campsites appear big enough for an extra vehicle or two, though you need to pay extra for additional vehicles.
Additionally, there are parking lots scattered throughout the park: One near the boardwalk trail, one near the comfort station, one near the boat launch, one near the dump station, one at the dog park, and another at the beach.
All are fairly small, though.
Usually, I use this section to just sum up our feelings on the park. In this case, that’s just “meh”.
However, there was some bizarre drama that went down on our first night, that I think should be addressed. It was sort of... suspicious?
On our first night here, I was feeling pretty disappointed, between the gross beach and our campsite being fairly dangerous for my foot issues.
So, I posted a fairly innocuous post to an unofficial Provincial Parks Facebook group that I’m a member of, just asking if the park is normally so meh, or if we got it on an off day or whatever.
A small handful of people responded to agree, with comments like "It's the last place I would book", "It was such a disappointment", "Selkirk is a dumpy park", and "I'll never go back. We also felt like it was meh".
... and then I got a notice that my post was removed, with feedback from the admin:
1. I checked the rules when I got the notice, and it didn’t even come close to breaking any of them.
2. The current top post in the group was a guy *shredding* another PP campground, FAR more negative that my post had been.
There were multiple admins, I had no idea who had deleted my post, so had no idea who to ask about it.
FB had the option of editing the post, which I assumed would put it into moderation to be approved.
So, I edited it at the end of my post, with a note to ask the admin to message me or whatever, as I didn’t know who to contact to find out what I had done wrong.
... and it got posted like that, and I was immediately banned from the group!
When I had searched that group for information about Selkirk, the posts were positive. It definitely influenced my decision to book at the park.
When I POSTED about it, the responses were all negative, with one exception that was more neutral. (It was just talking about the clay in the water and seaweed this time of year).
Given what I’d seen on my earlier searches, I was shocked to see such an overwhelmingly negative response to the park.
I’m not a fan of that kind of biased censorship in general - and there were NO rules about “positive only” - but the fact that my post was deleted, and posts that were even MORE negative (about other parks) were allowed... just doesn’t sit right with me.
I’m unable to see the admin list - having been banned! - and I don’t know which admin or mod I was dealing with, but I’m REALLY curious if there was some sort of conflict of interest happening there.
It’s absolutely bizarre to me that only positive posts are allowed about this one specific park, even as an unwritten rule.
... but I guess that explains why I was shocked at how “meh” this was, given that negative posts were probably deleted.
To be faaair, I understand that this mod/admin could be completely detached from the park.
It IS sketchy enough, however, that it does leave a bad taste in my mouth with the park in general.
Suppressing less-than-glowing reviews or questions is NOT helpful - why set people up for a bad experience?
Anyway, we will be joining the others who commented with “we won’t be back”.
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