Cycle across Wolfe Island to the deserted paradise of Big Sandy Bay in the off-season. Spend the warm afternoon swimming and enjoying the splendour of Lake Ontario.

For a few years, my friends and I made this a yearly tradition; grabbing the ferry across the St. Lawrence River and biking across Wolfe Island to Big Sandy Bay, where we'd swim, have lunch and watch the sun go down. I'm not sure if we'll get the chance again so I'm passing it on to you.

Big Sandy Bay is a conservation area. It's managed in the summer months because it's a very popular family and tourist destination.  If you visit in the summer season (before Labour Day), it costs $8 to visit, which is used to rehabilitate the management area and educate the public about the fragile nature of the area.

In the off-season, the conservation area is open to the public. Pick a weekend with good weather and take the free ferry to the island. Bicycle from the Marysville Dock and stop at Wolfe Island Bakery to pick up a snack and support local business before heading southeast on Highway 95. Turn southwest on Reeds Bay Road and back east on 4th Line Road. The last few kilometres are on the trail from the parking lot to the beach. There's some apple trees that provide a nice snack if you're visiting in the fall. Before you know it, you'll be climbing the dune to the bright sand and blue water of Big Sandy Bay. 

Spend the day swimming and playing on the beach. Share lunch in the shade on the sand (but not so far that you're on the fore-dunes). If you have time, stay to watch the sun go down above the waves before biking back to the parking lot. As it gets dark, you'll be able to see the blinking lights of radio towers in the United States. Bring a headlamp and reflectors for your route back and enjoy the quiet mystery of biking among Wolfe Island's wind turbines at night. According to the online ferry schedule, the last departure from Wolfe Island is at 1:20 AM.

Please note that you should not walk on the dunes. They are fragile and restoration from human damage takes many years. Camping is prohibited all year round because the conservation area does not have the supervision necessary to allow camping.

Pack List

  • Bicycle
  • First aid kit
  • Water
  • Camera
  • Headlamp/reflectors
  • Sunscreen/sunglasses
  • Swimsuit
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RT Distance 6.9 Miles
Elevation Gain 55.8 Feet
Activities Cycling, Photography, Swimming
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Lake
Romantic
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Great day trip

I am a resident of the Island and Big Sandy is a very special place. Until a few years ago it was accessible only by boat. A lot of work has been done to make it what it is today. It is great seeing it enjoyed by so many. Please respect nature when you visit. There really is poison ivy on the dunes! When working there early one spring replanting some dune glasses I got a great case of it on both forearms.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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