Disclaimer: SYDE Road was not sponsored or commissioned to create this post – we bought the service on our own and we’re giving our honest review of our own experience.
Whenever I go offline or go camping without cellular reception for a few days I always come back feeling exponentially refreshed and relaxed. In today’s post, I will be reviewing and sharing our experience staying at the glamping tent at Pine Falls Lodge.
Pine Falls Lodge Overview
About Pine Falls Lodge
Pine Falls Lodge is located between Washigami Lake and Murray Lake in the Markstay-Warren township located in the Greater Sudbury Area. To reach Pine Falls Lodge, you will need to pass by the nearest town Hagar, Ontario, a 25-30 minute drive away by a gravel road. The lodge is an hour’s drive away from Sudbury, and 4.5 hours away from Toronto.
The lodge is 100% off the grid – meaning the place generates all of it’s own electricity and power on-site! All of the electricity consumed by the main two-storey lodge, the 7 guest cabins, as well as the glamping tent are all produced by the waterwheel generator!
The property is currently owned by Patrick and Amy Yawney. They currently live on the property with their kids, dog, and family friend/helper, Kristen.
Don’t let the renovations on the main lodge and surrounding property fool you, this property is filled with working facilities, amenities, and small delights.
As the new owners of the property, Patrick and Amy have skillfully merged their new creations seamlessly with the almost 75 years of rich historical structures found on the property. From:
- upgrading the waterwheel generator
- renovating the 7 cabins constructed by previous owners
- constructing a wood-stoked sauna, shaded pavilion, and outdoor shower
the Pine Falls Lodge has something for everyone.
A Rich History of Pine Falls Lodge
The property is filled with a rich history – from interesting beginnings to hardships, and new beginnings.
Origin of Pine Falls Lodge in 1947
The main lodge was built with hand-cut logs back in 1947. The lodge served two purposes:
- As a home for professional wrestler “Flying Dutchman” Frankie Hart, to raise his five sons and one daughter with his wife, Delma
- As a tourist resort welcoming hunters and fishers alike
The lodge remained in the Hart family for three generations before it was subsequently sold to the Dunham family in 2010. Pine Falls Lodge continued to be a local favourite destination. A restaurant and 8 guest cabins were also added to the property.
Locals and tourists alike enjoyed the grounds year-round with the addition of ATV activities, snowmobiling, and plentiful hiking and canoe trails around the area.
Main Lodge and a Cabin is Lost to Fire in 2015
Unfortunately, tragedy struck, on March 3, 2015. Fred Dunham, then owner of the Pines Fall Lodge, was spending time with his son, Kaynan, in one of the cabins on the property when he noticed thick smoke coming from the property’s main lodge.
A fire had erupted in the main lodge and was rapidly spreading. Fred and Kaynan tried to stop the fire’s spread by shovelling snow on the building’s wall in an effort to stop the fire but to no avail. Eventually, both the main building and the nearby cabin burned to the ground. Thankfully no injuries and all animals and people made it out of the incident safe and sound.
With the remaining 7 cabins still standing on the property, the Pine Falls Lodge remained partially operational offering ATV activities, fishing, snowmobiling, and plentiful hiking and canoe trails around the area.
New Beginnings from Old Foundations
Three years after the fire, the main lodge’s space remained empty – with nothing but a pile of rubble and its old foundations. In 2018, the Dunham family sold the property to Patrick and Amy Yawney. The new owners were determined to revitalize the property and have since been busy rebuilding the main lodge and renovating the property.
Historical News Sources
- Pine Falls Lodge near Hagar razed by fire, $500K in damage – CBC News, Mar 05, 2015
- Fire Guts Pine Falls Lodge – Sudbury.com, Mar 5, 2015
Booking and Check-in Process
There are currently two methods to book the Glamping Tent at Pine Falls Lodge: via AirBnb and via Hipcamp. Both methods allow you to see which dates are available, communicate with the host, and manage payment all in one application or website.
AirBnB and Hipcamp have different booking, service, and cleaning fees. You may want to compare the two options before settling on one. If you’d like to see all of Pine Falls Lodge’s currently available listings, I’d recommend viewing the listing via AirBnB and looking at Patrick’s AirBnB profile.
The check-in process was super simple as Patrick, Amy, and Kristen are easy-going and friendly. Since you’ve made the full payment for your booking via AirBnB or Hipcamp, you just need to message them when you plan on arriving and they’ll send you instructions on how where to park the car and where the best place to unload your gear to get to the tent is.
The glamping tent’s earliest check-in time is 4PM. And latest check-out time is 10 AM.
At this point, you can receive an optional orientation of the property or you can go straight into unpacking your gear to the tent. If you have any questions or would like an orientation at a later date, the hosts are currently staying in the main lodge and are happy to answer any questions or give a tour of the property whenever you’d like. They also have extra gear and firewood for your stay.
Life jackets and use of all water equipment are free – however please note that these amenities along with the facilities like the sauna, fire pit, pebbled beach, shaded pavilion, hot showers, and hiking trails are shared with the other guests at the lodge.
Pine Falls Lodge – Glamping Site Overview
Update: The glamping tent listing is no longer pet-friendly. If you are looking for a pet-friendly experience at the Pine Falls Lodge, consider booking one of their dog-friendly cabins instead.
If you’ve read our piece on the ultimate guide to camping with dogs for the first time, you’ll know that Angelo and I were eager to introduce Limone to overnight camping experiences. The glamping tent at Pine Falls Lodge was literally the perfect test site for us to ease into our transition.
Here is what you can expect when staying at the Pine Falls Lodge’s Glamping Tent.
The glamping tent is located halfway between the rear of the main lodge and the pebbled beach facing Murray Lake. Directly to the right is the shared fire pit, and a small uphill path will lead you back up toward the lodge. Because of its central location, the glamping tent does not offer a secluded experience. You will see other guests pass the side and front of your tent to access the pebbled beach directly below.
To unload your gear, you can either:
- drive to the right of the lodge beside cabin 5, go around the play structure and head downhill to reach the tent or
- drive to the left of the lodge, past cabin 2, and park at the rear of the lodge
We found that driving to the left of the lodge allowed for faster and easier access to the tent grounds. However, depending on the renovation progress, the hosts may provide updated loading and unloading instructions during your stay.
Elevated Deck Space
Situated on its own elevated deck, the glamping tent comes with one Muskoka armchair, a shaded picnic table, and a wooden bench. The deck is spacious enough to hold 2 people’s worth of gear easily as well as two additional folding chairs without feeling cramped.
We even had more than enough space to set up a dog run/doggy zip line to secure Limone without any issues.
While there is no running water available at the tent, both Murray Lake and Washigami’s water can be bucketed and brought to the deck for any dishwashing needs. If you require potable water though, you will need to ask the hosts for directions to the spring well. We brought our own water and did not ask for the spring during our stay.
The glamping tent is the only accommodation on site that does not have its own BBQ – however, tent guests are welcome to use the lodge’s BBQ with the hosts’ permission.
There is a dedicated two-seater outhouse located on-site for the exclusive use of glamping tent guests. Currently, the outhouse is situated on the edge of the property. You’ll need to walk a couple of minutes from the tent to access the outhouse. Because all the accommodations offer flush toilets within the cabin, these outhouses are for the glamping tent guests’ use only.
The outhouse was exceptionally clean and included a dustpan as well as toilet paper. You’ll still want to bring your own hand sanitizer and pack out any personal hygiene items as it does not include a garbage bin in the outhouse.
You can tell that the hosts have made every effort to sweep and clean the area regularly to ensure a pleasant experience and I was surprised to see freshly cut flowers decorating the space too.
The outdoor shower is located at the base of the Pine Lodge Falls’ main lodge. As you can see in the photo, the space is partially finished and partially open at the top of the shower to allow lake views while you rinse off. The base of the shower is an uneven rock slab – so definitely wear some shower sandals to avoid slipping.
This outdoor shower is open for all guests to use and comes with some basic biodegradable soap and shampoo. Currently, this is the only shower that provides all guests with access to hot water.
This is a large double-layered canvas tent with 4 vents located at the base of the tent and one major opening. With an interior clear mesh lining for the windows and tent flap, you have the option of keeping these zipped to keep out the mosquitoes and bugs. For further privacy, the windows and tent flap include an opaque flap made of the same canvas material.
Inside the tent is a wooden-framed double bed with a mattress, a small stool, and not pictured, an armchair. The hosts will have outfitted the tent with clean sheets for the mattress, so all you need to bring are your own pillows and comforters.
The space inside is surprisingly large and spacious for a tent and has more than enough room for you and your gear. During our stay, the tent also included a portable fan and a power strip to power the fan and string lights. There is enough space on the power strip to charge and additional two electronic items while keeping the lights and fan running.
After our experience staying at a yurt in the winter, we were so surprised that this tent had electricity and enough lighting to illuminate the entire tent without needing additional lanterns and headlamps. The fairy string lights are the wired type that takes up minimal space. At night, the tent feels like it’s illuminated by dozens of fireflies.
Although the tent is really welcoming, you’ll find that during the summer days, the tent heats up considerably and the fan and vents aren’t enough to keep the space cool enough to linger in. Most of your time will be spent outside the tent and you will likely only return to the tent at dusk to hide from the mosquitos and to sleep.
In terms of noise, you may want to bring earplugs. The property is located right beside a dam that connects Washigami Lake and Murray Lake together and while small, the dam does generate several thumping sounds and waterfall noises that may be loud enough to keep light sleepers awake.
Plan your Stay
After you settle into your tent, there are plenty of activities to make the most of your cellular-free glamping experience.
Enjoy Water Activities in Murray Lake and Washigami Lake
Located right between Washigami Lake and Murray Lake, Pine Falls Lodge offers a plethora of water activities for their guests to enjoy. They offer kayaks, canoes and paddleboards that can be used on either lake.
However, most of their equipment is located on the Murray Lake/rear of the lodge, so you’ll likely be doing most of your activity there. On the Murray Lakeside, there are three docks that extend further into the lake. You can safely jump off the dock into the lake on these docks as each one offers a minimum depth of 14 ft. The dock by the pebbled rock beach also includes a floating swim mat near the shore for guests who just want to enjoy swimming and floating in Murray Lake’s crystal clear waters.
Fish in Murray Lake
Locals and fishing enthusiasts alike will know that Murray Lake offer a plethora of Walleye, Pike, Smallmouth Bass, Lake Trout, and Speckled Trout for fisherman to catch. The falls located to the left of the lodge, is a particularly popular location for locals and guests alike. You’ll often find guests fishing on the deck, or locals coming in by boat to fish at at this particular location.
Note: Please review the 2021 fishing regulations of Ontario, zone 10 for rules and regulations for fishing in this area.
Relax in the Wood Stoked Sauna
One of the first structures built after Patrick and Amy became the new owners of the lodge, this wood stoked sauna is open year round from 5/6PM to about 10pm. The sauna is located on the central right side of the property near the waterwheel generator.
This wood stoked sauna is such a treat as it includes large windows facing the lake, essential oils within the sauna, as well as water pipe access built within the sauna to keep the room steaming warm.
Due to the popularity of the sauna and to ensure that all guests have access to this wonderful facility, there is a reservation sheet where you can see when each guests would like to use the sauna. You can reserve a timeslot by selecting a time and putting a guest name down on the sheet.
As a basic etiquette, once you’re done with using the sauna, check to make sure that water continues to steam when splashed on the rocks. If it doesn’t or takes a while to steam, please ensure that you head around the sauna and restoke the sauna for the next guests to use the facility.
Chase Nearby Waterfalls
Consider taking a day trip from Pine Falls Lodge to this hidden gem – complete with turquoise waters and a cascading waterfall. Paradise Lagoon, or the Blue Lagoon, was pointed out to us by Patrick as a must-see. As Northern Ontario’s website aptly puts it, “The water of this circular and seemingly bottomless lagoon is often described for its “Windex”-like colour, and is surrounded by steep rock walls of granite and quartz.”
This lagoon isn’t easily accessible and may require either an SUV or all-wheeler to take you through the uneven/partially bouldered roads during the wet season. Alternatively, you can also consider taking a two- or three-day canoe trip from Pine Falls Lodge to reach the lagoon as well.
After digging around, the most straightforward method to reach the falls in a day is to follow these directions created by reddit user Kipthecagefighter04 on this post via SUV or truck – the parking location is most helpful as you will need to walk a bit to access the lagoon.
You drive up then walk in. No canoe needed. Open google earth or maps and search paradise lagoon and you should be able to find your way First turn from highway 17 : 46°31'20.9"N 80°38'52.3"W second turn : 46°41'36.0"N 80°37'29.1"W third turn (fork in the road): 46°43'51.6"N 80°36'47.6"W last turn: 46°49'59.3"N 80°39'14.3"W park: 46°49'47.5"N 80°38'51.7"W
Hike on Crown Land
Patrick’s family has been steadily creating a network of new hiking trails around the crown land near the property to explore various viewpoints of the lake. These trails are fairly new and are continually updated with new markers to help guests navigate the forest. The trails are thick with underbrush. For a city dweller, these trails and nearby hikes would be considered very challenging and is certainly a new way to really immerse yourself into nature.
When we spoke with the hosts, we were introduced to one well-marked trail and one to-be-marked trail on either side of the lodge. The unmarked, south-east trail takes guests up to a viewpoint on a nearby cliff that over looks Murray Lake. The marked trail (markers in pink tape) on the north-east side of the lodge takes you past the dam and onto a northern viewpoint of Murray Lake.
Attend River & Sky Music/Camping Festival
If you’re staying at the Pine Falls Lodge during mid-July, consider adding the River & Sky Music/Camping Festival to your itinerary. Normally held for two days around the July 15-20 timeframe, this festival focuses on presenting emerging and celebrated artists in nature, while showcasing a community-based, simple and sustainable way of life. Previous line-ups have included 30+ Canadian music artists, 5+ artists and their art collectives and for 2021, they will be including panels at the festival for the first time. The panel will feature topics like:
- Future of Live Music & Touring
- Amplifying BIPOC Voices in the Industry
- Getting to Know the Ontario Festival Circuit
- Woman/Non-Binary Audio Experts
For more details on the festival and for ticketing information, head on over to River & Sky’s Facebook page.
Relax on the Property
There’s nothing better than doing nothing on a staycation or camping trip. Like much of the property, the glamping tent offers unparalleled access to the lakeside and many guests, including ourselves have spent many hours just sitting by the dock, our tents, and cabins, soaking in the sun by the lakeside.
With no Wi-Fi and cell service a 15 minute car ride away, and maybe without a sense of time (if you’re like me and rely on your phone to tell you the time too), you may just find passing hours on end just enjoying the fresh air and lakeside beauty.
This was an absolute amazing stay for us. Our main goal was to ease Limone into overnight camping and after staying at Patrick and Amy’s glamping tent, I think we really made the ideal choice for our needs.
The description posted on Hipcamp really doesn’t do the location justice. This space is an amazing location for first time glampers who are looking to ease their way into a full camping experience. Patrick and Amy have thoughtfully added many new home comfort amenities to the property while keeping the cottage/camping experience intact.
Also, if the hosts are staying on site, you can be at ease knowing you’ll be supported during your stay. For example, during our stay we brought our own gas stove to cook meals, but they also kindly offered their lodge barbecue and provided us a sampler of their produce from their private garden – garlic scape pesto pasta!
We Learned About Pine Falls Lodge’s Future
You can really tell that the family has put a lot of hard work and love into renovating and upgrading the property since they bought the location 3 years ago. During our stay, the main lodge was still under renovation. That hasn’t stopped Patrick and his family from implementing additional amenities to the site to ensure your stay was as positive and relaxing as possible. 4 of the 7 cabins have been renovated with running water, showers, flush toilets, and updated kitchen appliances. The fire pit, sauna, and outdoor hot shower were all newly created in the last three years as well.
In the near future they plan on adding:
- 2 hot tubs/ outdoor soakers by the sauna
- an outhouse located closer to the glamping tent
- new hiking trails and additional markers
Patrick grew up in the area and you can really see how much he loves the region. His enthusiasm and joy is infectious and it’s really REALLY hard to not want to stay here longer and try out all the trails, see all the waterfalls, and try all the portage routes that he shares with you. If you’re an avid fisher or canoer, please definitely reach out to the hosts – they have a plethora of information about the best trails, portage routes, and viewpoints around the area. In fact, they were the ones who introduced us to the Paradise Lagoon.
While we did not have the chance to visit due to our short stay, another group of guests ventured out and shared the photos with us upon their arrival and it’s such an impressive and hidden gem.
We Loved the Crazy Clean Facilities
In terms of the facilities, the tent, outhouse, and all shared facilities were IMMACULATELY clean. When we first arrived onsite, there wasn’t even a speck of dirt found in the tent. What was even more impressive was how both the sauna and outhouse were bug-free despite both structures being partially open to the outdoors.
The only real downfalls we experienced during our stay were nature-related:
- Mosquitoes at dusk were simply immune to Thermacell and insect repellant and every night when the sun went down we were attacked and sucked alive – only getting respite in our tent – and only after cornering and swatting the mosquitoes that travelled into the tent with us
- Heat and cold – we were alternating between sweltering heat when the winds died down to feeling chilly when the winds picked up. Thankfully we both brought long sleeves, but our water activities did get cut short quite a few times because it would suddenly become too cold to comfortably stay in the water for longer periods of time
Most of our Time was Spent Teaching Limone to Love Glamping
We only stayed for the minimum 2 nights. Our focus for this stay was to introduce Limone to the sights and sounds expected in nature, increase her confidence in swimming, and teach her basic campground etiquette. Unfortunately we were not able to try all the activities offered around the area but I think the 2 night stay was just right for Limone’s first overnight experience.
We learned pretty early on that she was not a fan of the resident dog and other guests passing our glamping tent when she was leashed and that she felt like it was her duty to alert everyone of moving boats. Thankfully with many treats and walks during our stay we were able to steadily reduce her alert barking.
Pine Falls Lodge Review Summary
While there were plenty of activities to do nearby the property, we ultimately spent majority of our stay by Murray Lake. With three docks and crystal clear water how could we not? When the weather got too cold for water activities, we spent the rest of our time on our glamping tent’s private deck just enjoying the waterfront scenery.
It is unfortunate that the glamping tent is no longer pet friendly. As such, I won’t be able to recommend the glamping tent at Pine Falls Lodge as an ideal location for other dog owners looking to ease into camping with their dogs for the first time.
- if you’re just looking to try an overnight experience in a new place with your dog OR
- you’re looking for a general glamping experience
You should definitely consider staying at any one of the listings at Pine Falls Lodge.
Book the Glamping Tent at Pine Falls Lodge
If you have any questions or comments about this Pine Falls Lodge review, please don’t hesitate to drop us a comment below, or contact me for more information