As I was writing my 2022 Best Campsite award I somehow forgot about the best campsite I’d stayed on that year. Not optimal, right? Once I realized my mistake, I went back and wrote an entirely new section, giving Manitou Lake – Site 43a it’s rightful moment of glory. But before that, I’d already written a love letter to Big Crow Lake – Site 3. The result is what you see below. A whole lot of writing for a second place campsite.
True story: I’ve been stuck on this category. I visited quite a few sites this year, some that were pretty good, but couldn’t remember any that really stuck out. The ones I could think of as at least being contenders, Site 2 on Opeongo’s North Arm, Red Rock’s Site 5, Dickson’s Site 7, all had their warts. The North Arm site is along a crowded section of shore at the north end of Opeongo. There are five campsites all within shouting distance of each other, and on top of that the Proulx portage is right there, meaning you’ve got water taxis and trips coming and going at all hours. The Dickson site gave me the most spectacular sunset I’ve seen in ages and tons of space, but the site interior is really hemmed in and dark. The Red Rock site … actually, there wasn’t much not to like about that site, but I still didn’t want to make it my winner since I’d only stayed there for a couple of hours one afternoon. For all I know there’s a volcano underneath it that goes off every night. You can’t make something the best campsite of the year if there’s a volcano under it.
So I was stuck.
Then I opened the post up to start writing this section and realized the answer was staring me in the face. Literally.
See, to write this post I just copied and pasted Part One to use as a template. If you’ve read Part One (you’ve read Part One, right?), you know that one of the categories in that post is Best Swimming. Well, it so happens that as I was going through and changing the headers for each section I put Best Campsite where Best Swimming was. And what was at the bottom of the Best Swimming section? A beautiful, wide, afternoon sun shot of the beach at Big Crow, site 3. The very shot you just scrolled past to get to this paragraph.
And we’ve got our winner.
I’ve gone on about the swimming on this site already, so I won’t repeat myself. But there’s a lot more to like about this spot than just the swimming.
It’s a really nicely laid out campsite. The beach gives way to a clearing that hooks around the bay, with a massive fire pit area off to one side. It’s got a western exposure that gave us an awesome sunset that, if not for that once in a lifetime Dickson sunset we saw a couple days later, would have easily won this year’s Best Sunset category. Despite us being there towards the end of the camping season, there was still a lot of useful firewood back in the woods, and the fire pit where we burned that wood was nicely protected from any onshore wind by a wall of logs that looked like it was left over from the construction of Fort William Henry. The only slight hiccup in the site design would be the fact that it’s built into a bit of a hill. There isn’t a ton of level ground to work with, but there was still room for our group’s two tents (you could also camp a small army on the beach if you wanted).
Apart from the amenities, the site is well located. It’s right at the mouth of the Crow River, which means that if you happen to be moving along in that direction the next morning, you’ve got an easy start. Your view is north and west across Big Crow, and it’s a pretty spectacular view.
I’d take in that view again. And again.
Finally, Big Crow itself is a pretty appealing lake. It’s big, it’s beautiful, its got cliffs, cabins and campsites and so much more. This site gives you access to all of that, while being an awesome spot to hunker down and do nothing if you just want to chill out for a day. I would happily go back to this site for a night or two (especially with kids. This site is built for swimming with kids).
I could go on, but I’m not going to. This campsite has it all. A nice layout, decent swimming, great views and lots to see and do in the area. I’d stay here again in a heartbeat (although I’d probably be more comfortable if I was staying in a tent).
And there you have it. The Lost Moosie. Years from now this will be the answer to a trivia question at your local pub, and now you’re ready to win that bucket’o’wings or whatever food based equivalent they’re serving by then. Now feel free to click the button below and pick up where you left off with the real winner of this year’s Moosie …