Thu. Feb 29th, 2024
Backcountry camping and paddling: @Venturingtwo explores Bon Echo

Today’s blog comes from Danny and Tiffany from Venturing Two.

Last weekend, we headed north to Bon Echo Provincial Park to document our first backcountry experience.

The park was bustling with activity! There were barbecues on family-friendly and pet-friendly beaches, people fishing, kids canoeing and kayaking, friends hiking to scenic overlooks, families checking out pictographs, and fellow campers relaxing at lakeside campsites.

Top Five Reasons to Visit Bon Echo Provincial Park

View from Mazinaw rock.

  • Fantastic Landscape: Mazinaw Rock and Inner Lake
  • Many water activities: canoeing, kayaking and fishing.
  • Ideal for beginners in backcountry camping
  • Relax, disconnect and immerse yourself in nature
  • Spot wildlife such as loons, hawks and fish.
  • Get there

    The park is about a three-hour drive from the heart of Toronto, or 1.5 to two hours by car if you’re coming from Kingston or Ottawa.

    Map to Bon Echo from Toronto.

    The location makes it a great option for a day trip or weekend getaway. We arrived at the park later than expected, but the beautiful sunset greeted us upon our arrival.

    Packaging for the field

    We packed as little as possible so that everything could fit comfortably in our backpacks. This also made traveling between the parking lot, boat launch, and our campsite much more manageable.

    Backpacks

    Our recommendation: bring a light and resistant camping bag.

    man carrying backpack and paddles

    We brought our Arc’teryx Alpha AR 35L and Alpha FL 45L backpacks, and they carried all of our essentials without any additional weight from the bag itself. They are also weather and abrasion resistant, which is a plus when it comes to backcountry camping.

    Clothes

    Our recommendation: pack clothes that are easy to dry, breathable and can be worn in layers; Bring a light jacket to protect you from the elements.

    We brought our Arc’teryx Zeta SL shell jackets, which are super lightweight, packable, and water resistant. We hit some rain and luckily our jackets kept the elements out so we could continue our adventure. It was also quite cold at night, but we had sweaters and thicker socks to keep us quite warm.

    Food

    Our recommendation: Dehydrated foods, nuts, dried fruits and energy bars. For the campfire we roast sausages, chicken skewers and roast potatoes.

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    skewer over campfire, pot over fire

    For quick meals, we made oatmeal and instant noodles. Lastly, for snacks we ate crackers, nuts, dried fruit and energy bars.

    Sensitive items

    Our recommendation: bring dry bags.

    Highly recommended! Since we spent most of our time in the water, we brought our dry bags to keep our camera equipment and electronics safe.

    Dry bags are waterproof rubber bags that float in case the canoe gets wet or capsizes. They also serve as a food bag to hang on a tree at night.

    Camping Essentials

    Filter water.Water Filter: The lake water was very clean, but we still had to treat it with our Sawyer water filter. We had a large gravity water system installed that supplied us with plenty of water.

    Insect Repellent and Bug Net – We certainly love our little buzzing friends. June and July are peak mosquito season. You can check the insect activity forecast on the Weather Network before your trip. The forecast called for moderate insect activity, so we kept our bug nets up the entire time and they did wonders for us.

    Ropes – A great thing to have in your camping bag. We used ropes to stabilize our tent and hang our food bag.

    Get to the campsite

    Our camp was located on an island on Lake Joeperry, one of Bon Echo’s inland lakes.

    To get to our campsite we must…

  • Danny preparing the canoe.Registered at the front door.
  • He collected firewood at the sawmill
  • Parked in the Joeperry parking lot.
  • Walked with our camping essentials to the Joeperry boat launch (this is also where you pick up your canoe)
  • We load our canoe
  • We paddled 15 minutes to our camp.
  • Quick note: The Joeperry car park is just off Hardwood Hill Road, and the walk to the boat launch was 500m. Although we had little luggage, we still had to make a second trip to the car to get firewood.

    Remember to keep luggage minimal and compact to avoid multiple trips to the car.

    If you like exploring places off the beaten path, we recommend camping at Joeperry or Pearson Lake. We encountered very few people and sometimes had the lake to ourselves!

    Image of the campsite from the water.

    Our campsite was 523, located 15 minutes away by canoe and on a quiet island in front of the jetty.

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    This was probably one of the best campgrounds on the lake because it is very private and has an amazing view. Additionally, there are no motor boats, so the area remains quiet.

    As we canoed toward camp, we saw other campers fishing, a loon foraging for food, and campers from other parts of the park.

    Timelapse of the tent lifting.

    It was very easy to lose track of time, so when we arrived at our campsite, we quickly set up our tent and lit the campfire. Evening menu: sausage, chicken skewers and roast sweet potato.

    At 7:30 pm, we were presented with an incredibly vibrant and warm sky. This also meant a quick sunset photo session!

    Image of a canoe on the shore.

    morning photography

    At 5:00 am, we headed out for our first full day of filming.

    Luckily for us, the morning greeted us with thick fog! What a contrast to the day before. We canoed and took some amazing photos before heading down to Lake Mazinaw.

    Morning photo of a canoe on the shore.

    Our activities

    Exploring by canoe: Our favorite part of this trip! Gently paddling on calm waters was fun and relaxing! Plus, we also got a good upper body workout.

    Paddling in front of Mazinaw Rock.

    Exploring the beaches: It was nice to see so many people outside. As we ate our afternoon snack, we sat by the beaches and watched the bustling area full of families having barbecues, children making sand castles, and people paddle boarding.

    Walking on the beach.

    Exploring Mazinaw Lake/Rock: At sunset, we witnessed the sun shining on the rock, painting it orange! Now we know why so many people admire this milestone. It was also a pleasure to canoe along the rock to see the pictographs up close.

    Pictograph.

    Hiking: We hiked the Cliff Top Trail (1 mile round trip) which took us directly to the top of Mazinaw Rock, overlooking most of the park, the narrows, and the sandy beach.

    From the top of the viewpoint.

    To get to the trail we paddled for about 10 minutes. There were also ferry services available to the base of the trail, but it’s much more exciting to paddle there. For more information on the other hiking trails, click here.

    Final thoughts

    See below from the top of the viewpoint.We were lucky to have pristine nature and excellent photography conditions (despite the rain on Saturday) which made documenting our trip that much more memorable.

    During the car ride home, we were already planning our next trip! We can’t wait to return to explore the rest of the area.

    To follow us on our adventures, check out our Instagram @venturingtwo.

    Happy exploring!