Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

The Ontario wilderness is much closer than you think.

Did you know you can leave downtown Toronto and paddle to your campsite in less than 3 hours?

These five southeastern parks are perfect for finding country solitude close to home:

Lake Charleston Provincial Park

3 hours from Toronto, 1.5 hours from Ottawa

Sunset on Lake Charleston

Lake Charleston’s rocky landscape of lakes and forests is an extension of the Canadian Shield. Charleston Lake offers 10 backcountry campsites that can be accessed by water or a hiking trail. Depending on site selection, it will take between ten minutes and two hours to reach your site.

All sites are equipped with raised tent platforms, a picnic table, fire pit, and outhouse. These sites are great for visitors who want to see a different side of the park or for those who are developing their backcountry camping skills.

Book online (don’t forget to select “Backcountry” from the dropdown menu!)

Bon Echo Provincial Park

3 hours from Toronto, 2 hours from Ottawa

sunrise over the lake

The Abes & Essens night hiking route consists of three circuits of four, nine and 17 km. There are five campsites available along the trail for overnight stays. Each campsite has a picnic table and space for tents; The bathrooms are nearby.

There are twenty-one canoe campgrounds located on Joeperry and Pearson lakes. A short 10-30 minute canoe ride will take you to your campsite. At each campsite you’ll find a picnic table, space for tents, and a nearby bathroom. Joeperry Lake has the added bonus of a sandy beach.

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Book online (don’t forget to select “Backcountry” from the dropdown menu!)

Frontenac Provincial Park

45 minutes from Kingston, 2 hours from Ottawa

lakeside campsite

Frontenac offers backcountry camping at specific sites year-round. Located in the Frontenac Arch, the park offers visitors a rocky northern landscape of southern Ontario.

Campsites are located in clusters on lakes inside the park and must be accessed by walking or paddling. Each campsite has its own tent platform, fire pit, bench, and picnic table. A closed private bathroom is shared in each group of camps.

Book online (don’t forget to select “Backcountry” from the dropdown menu!)

Kawartha Highlands Signature Park

2.5 hours from Toronto, 1 hour from Peterborough

canoes on the coast

You’ll fall in love with the rugged, rolling landscape of small lakes, wetlands, forests and rocky moors in the Kawartha Highlands. The park offers more than 100 backcountry campsites spread across six recommended canoe loops.

Most sites have three tent platforms, a designated campfire area, a picnic table, and a private bathroom. The campsites can only be reached by canoe and most require transportation to access.

Book online (don’t forget to select “Backcountry” from the dropdown menu!)

island in the lakeDo you need more information for planning your trip?

Check out our backcountry webpage for charts, safety tips, and planning resources.

These pages also classify off-piste experiences according to their difficulty. Only explore opportunities in rural areas that suit your skill level and knowledge.

And before leaving…

…please review our Backcountry Etiquette page.

Kawartha Highlands Paddlers

Remember: Backcountry explorations offer a more intimate experience with the natural environment, but they also come with responsibility. Do your part to protect our parks by leaving their pristine environment just as you found it.

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