Here are my suggestions/demands if you’re camping on crown land:
Clean up after yourself; if you can carry it in, you can carry it out! Just because there isn’t a ranger looming around to fine you/clean up after you, doesn’t mean you have the right to leave trash lying around. Not only does it make the site look like crap, it also attracts more animals and pests. To add, the fire pit is not a trash can.
There aren’t any outhouses/treasure chests, so dig a hole! Mark a path well away from the site and go at least 100m from the water source. You’d think “don’t shit where you eat” would be universally known, but I have come across a big steaming mess with a wad of paper only feet from the site more than once. To add to this (and I’m looking at you ladies), collect and burn your toilet paper. Every time you need to wipe, collect the used paper in a paper bag, and burn it. If this isn’t possible, at very least bury it like your poop.
Please just bring a water purifier of some kind; the risk of getting parasites might be small in pristine water, but purifiers are so convenient nowadays that it’s not worth going without. I have a Sawyer Mini filter, it weighs nearly nothing and I just fill a bag with water and hang it on a branch to drip (which takes a couple minutes). Chlorine or UV purification is even easier.
One of the best things about crown land is being able to camp where you like! Sometimes you just come across a very ideal spot, but sometimes you underestimated your plans and have to make do with what you can. If this happens, and you end up on a spot you don’t intend to return to in the future, don’t make unnecessary “improvements” to that site. Clear a spot for your tent, don’t cut anything down you don’t have to, and only build a fire if you need to - put that stove to use. If you had to build a fire, remove the fire pit and clean out the contents before leaving.
As for established campsites, do what you can to improve it. Clean up, clear brush, whatever little bit you do helps. These sites are user maintained, treat them as such.
Firewood! Great, you don’t have to pay the park office for wood! The forest will provide. Only burn dead wood. I have camped for years without bringing a hatchet or axe, you don’t need to cut down trees to get wood. There is plenty of dead fall and branches lying around to keep that fire going day and night. Collect the smaller stuff, it’s easier the carry, and you can break it by hand - less chance of getting hurt. If anything I would bring a breakdown buck saw, it’s safer and faster.
To me, the biggest benefit of camping on crown land is the seclusion. I don’t need to check in, I’m not restricted to a site reservation, I can go where I please, and in a lot of cases I won’t see another person for days. It’s important to be more prepared since you won’t have the luxury of park staff, rangers, established routes/directions, or any other resources a park might offer.
There are still plenty of places in Ontario without cell service, so tell others where you’re going and when you’ll be back. If you’re accessing on an old back road/logging road and are parked way out in the woods, hide your keys somewhere on the outside of the vehicle (under the bumper or something). Unless there is a lot of traffic where you park, there is no reason to risk losing your keys.
Lastly, Enjoy and have a safe good time, and please add more findings!
Comment from Rps333 on 28 August 2015 at 22:36
Welcome to OSM.
Thanks for the post and adding to the OSM Project. You should add some Mapillary Photos for some of the roads on the way to the camp sites.
If you need a mount for your smartphone let me know.