Outdoors

Ferris Provincial Park in Campbellford, ON

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Ferris Provincial Park is a small 1.98km² park located along the banks of the Trent River in Campbellford, ON. It features 10km of hiking trails, a suspension bridge over Ranney Gorge and 150 car camping sites in 2 campground loops (Valleyview and Bedrock).

While there isn’t a ton to do, it is a well-kept Provincial Park that is worth a half-day trip for families to hike the trails which are well-marked, see the waterfall, walk the suspension bridge, paddle the river and have a picnic. Bring some bug spray in the summer months as there a few mosquitos here and there.

Note: Unfortunately, swimming in the river is not recommend and unsafe due to the strong and unpredictable currents produced by the dam upstream of the park which can increase the flow rate in seconds. Access to the banks of the river is not permitted.

There is a fence preventing access along the bank of the river along the north end of the park near the falls, suspension bridge and locks. There is access to the river (no fence) south of the boat launch.

  • Address: 474 County Rd 8, Campbellford, ON K0L 1L0 or parking along Trent Dr on the other side of the suspension bridge
  • Hours: The suspension bridge and park trails are open year round. Camping is available from May 14, 2021 to October 12, 2021.
  • Cost: Day pass/vehicle permit: $12.25 (incl. tax)
  • Distance: Toronto (180km – 2 hr), Ottawa (240km – 3 hr)

Afterwards, the park is right next door to Campbellford, ON, home of the well-known Dooher’s Bakery (get there early before the donuts sell out) and grab a healthy lunch from John Papanikolaou’s Master Sub, who has been making fresh, quality subs there for over 25 years.

Ferris Provincial Park map

Trail map

Map of the River Gorge and Drumlin Ridge trail systems with viewpoints, picnic areas and toilets marked:

Campsite map

Map of the Bedrock and Valleyview campsites:

Further reading: Check out our camping checklist.

Ranney Falls Trail (1 km – 0.5 hours)

The Ranney Falls Trail is a short easy loop trail that includes park benches and two tree ID clusters.

It’s only a couple hundred metres walk to get the Ranney Falls Lookout:

River Gorge Trail (3.5 km – 2 hours)

From there, the path connects to the River Gorge Trail system that takes you south as it follows alongside the Trent River.

At first, the scenery will be obscured by the fence and the trees, but as you’ll see later, the fence eventually stops and the views of the river open up once you get past the locks. The dirt trail can get muddy after it has rained and water pools in a few areas that have poor drainage, so come prepared with footwear that you won’t mind getting muddy.

Suspension bridge

Next, you’ll come across the only pedestrian suspension bridge of its kind in Ontario. Built in 2003 and opened in 2004, it is 300 feet across and 30 feet above the Trent River. It is part of The Great Trail – the longest hiking trail in the world! Under the bridge on the west side you can see the Ranney Falls Hydroelectric Generating Station, which uses water from the Trent River to produce 20 MW of electricity – enough to power 24,000 homes!

The walkway is a thin (but strong) metal grate, so you can see down into the rushing rapids below:

Note: This is probably a bit unnerving if you have a fear of heights.

The bridge provides excellent views on both sides of the flowing water and beauty of the surrounding environment. Vibrant and colourful in the fall, pristine white in the winter and lush green in summer:

Locks

Continuing past the bridge on the east side of the river, you might catch a glimpse of a boat increasing or decreasing its elevation in 2 stages using Locks 11-12 of the Trent-Severn Waterway:

After the locks, the river starts to slow, the fence stops and the trail gets closer to and provides better views of the river:

There are several outcroppings along the banks of the river providing a clearing to sit and rest or stop and take in your surroundings:

Meadow loop

A highlight of the trail for me was the aptly named meadow loop, which featured a less-traveled path, several types of birds, monarch butterflies, moths and no fewer than 10 different types of wildflowers which were in full bloom:

Canoeing or boating

There is a boat launch for canoes and kayaks at the south end of the park, downstream from the falls and gorge. It is recommended that you only explore downstream of the boat launch in order to avoid the more dangerous waters of the dam and falls.

There are kayaks located next to the boat launch that are available to rent at the park office:

Fishing

You can fish from the shore at the south end of the park or by boat. The Trent River is known for its walleye (pickerel), carp, muskie, panfish, pike, and small and largemouth bass.

Swimming

Swimming in the river is not recommend and unsafe due to the strong and unpredictable currents produced by the dam upstream of the park which can increase the flow rate in seconds.

Swimming areas near Ferris Provincial Park:

Picnicking

There are 2 picnic areas and 6 benches along the shores of the river that make a great spot to rest and have a bite to eat:

There is also 1 large, very nice picnic shelter located in a nice green space clearing in the middle of the Bridge Loop trail. It is available for rent, but if not rented is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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About the author

Alex Wideman

Founder of Cansumer. Consumer rights advocate, serial entrepreneur and educator. Read more

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