Dollar Lake Provincial Park: The Park
Dollar Lake Park has been a favourite of ours since the boys were very little. It is close to Halifax which meant it was also close to our home should the need arise to flee for various toddler-emergency related reasons. For tourists and other visitors, this proximity means the great cultural life of the city is within a 40-minute drive. The Park is about a 20-minute drive from the Airport and Highway 102, which is part of the TransCanada. You can also quite easily go to Truro, the Annapolis Valley via that route. Alternatively, you take Highway 357 South and explore the Eastern Shore. (Travel Tip: you should gas up at the Irving by the airport or at Parker’s in Middle Musquodoboit if you are running low. There is no gas station within a thirty-minute drive).
The Park has a really great small beach, with just enough sand on its shores and on the bottom of the lake to make play, swimming and general water-lounging quite comfortable. Grassy areas under shade trees are available for those who are land-loungers. There is a life-guard on duty during the summer months. Picnic tables are not plentiful, therefore if you plan to spend a meal-time there and need one, come early in the morning to grab one. The public change rooms and washrooms are kept clean by diligent staff (although toilet paper frequently runs out on very busy days) and if you get hungry at the beach there is a canteen run by the non-profit Heartwood.
There are enough water taps near each campsite. However, the two nearest ours did not work. We had to walk a little farther to fill up our jugs. As I walked, I remembered when Dollar Lake used to be a party destination until the alcohol restrictions were imposed. It could get quite rowdy. Once, when Matt was about 5 or so, we went to fill up our water container at the nearest tap. A young man was attempting to add some water to a large pot with Kraft dinner remnants. He looked up at us, turned green, dropped the pot and ran into the woods. Orangey noodles littered the base of the tap. We picked our way around them. As we filled the plastic jug, Matt asked what happened to the man. I was about to explain what a hangover was, then thought better of it. Matthew happily mused that the raccoons would have a great KD feast that night. Thankfully, the Park is much more peaceful these days. The occasional whiff of marijuana will waft over you as you walk. I have never heard of weed-smokers starting riots as drunk people are wont to do, so we don’t worry about it.
The 119 campsites are organized around 4 loops, A, B, C, D. By the time we figured out we both had enough time off to book the Canada Day Weekend for camping, we got the second last available site, C4. On this weekend of rain-deluge we affectionately called our site, “The Lakes.” When I complained after stepping out of the camper into 2 inches of water on Saturday morning, Carl reminded me that there was a worse site. He had checked it out. It would have been the last campsite to go, which means people taking bookings are doing their best to put people into the best ones first. That’s a good thing. On that note, we walked around the loops. It should be said that all the campsites are of ample size. There are some stunning ones. Several on loop A overlook the lake and have beautiful views with the sound of loons during the day and owls at night. Some of those are potential toddler-danglers, so take care. Loop D has a couple of sites that are spectacular. One is surrounded by rock formation. Last year, some ridiculously self-absorbed people spray painted on these rocks that their family had been gathering there for over 2 decades. I was glad to see this was painted over. Another D site has a kind of driveway and is placed deep within a wooded lot. When D loop was developed some obvious care was taken with site design.
We have hiked some of the trails. They are not lengthy and one of them has poison ivy so you will need to be careful. We did not hike this weekend because we would have been knee deep in mud.
The shower and bathrooms at Dollar Lake are clean. Staff are very careful about keeping them clean. I have special inside knowledge in this matter as our oldest son had a summer job at Dollar Lake many years ago. One of his main duties was to go into these to clean the toilets, wipe sinks and hose every inch of floor down. He is now a Mechanical Engineer and works in shipbuilding. Whenever I go into shower/bathrooms I think of him doing this work and the work he is doing now with care and precision. I feel a little proud. That’s not weird, right? In terms of facilities, the Park appears to be fraying at the edges. The playground equipment is rusting. There is a slide next to one of the showers that looks like it might fall apart at any minute. Two of the water camps next to our site did not produce water. I suspect this is due to successive years of provincial cutbacks. This is shortsighted and a little strange given that the governments also declare tourism as one of the pillars of economic growth.
Nonetheless, we appreciated our time at this beautiful little campground.
Website link: https://parks.novascotia.ca/content/dollar-lake
2017 Season Dates: June 9 to October 9
Park contact number: (902) 384-2770
Civic address: 5265 Old Guysborough Road, Wyses Corner, NS
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