Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
How to Plan Your Bon Echo Day Trip

Bon Echo Provincial Park has long been a favorite destination for hikers, and this year is no exception!

On nice, sunny days, our park can get very busy.

Are you planning a day trip to Bon Echo? Check out our top tips for a fun, frustration-free visit:

  • Do I need a reservation if I am visiting for the day?
  • Does the park frequently reach capacity?
  • How much does it cost to enter?
  • What are the park hours?
  • When is the best/worst time to visit?
  • Where can I park?
  • Are boat tours available?
  • Are there rentals available?
  • I only have a few hours: What trail should I do?
  • What should/shouldn’t I pack?
  • Can I bring my dog?
  • Where can I have lunch?
  • Can I spend the night?
  • Are some parts of the park closed?
  • What does the park staff want you to know?
  • 1. Do I need a reservation if I am visiting for the day?

    Although 33 parks in the province have advance sales of daily vehicle permits in 2022, Bon Echo is not one of them.

    At Bon Echo, you must obtain your daily vehicle permit at the main entrance upon arrival. Permits are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

    2. Does the park frequently reach capacity?

    On nice summer weekends, there is a chance that our parking lots will fill up and reach capacity. If that happens, we will post a temporary closure notice on Twitter.

    3. How much does it cost to enter?

    Day use is $18.00 per vehicle.

    4. What are the park hours?

    Bon Echo is open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.

    5. When is the best/worst time to visit?

    Bon Echo is busiest on weekends, especially when the weather is nice.

    To avoid the crowds, try to plan a trip Monday through Thursday.

    If a busy beach isn’t your thing, consider visiting Bon Echo in the fall season.

    good echo in autumn

    The crowds begin to calm down after Labor Day, offering the opportunity for a leisurely paddle on Mazinaw Lake or a relaxing hike on one of our trails.

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    6. Where can I park?

    The Main Beach parking lot is closest to the day use area and the beach. If this parking lot is full, the second closest parking lot is the Amphitheater parking lot.

    Parking may reach capacity in any of these lots on our busiest days. In that case, we recommend that you park in one of our less-used lots, such as the lots in South Beach.

    Remember to only park your vehicle in designated parking lots that can accommodate you. Parking is not permitted in empty camping areas or on park roads.

    7. Are boat tours available?

    Sorry, the Cliff Top Trail Interpretive Boat Tour and Ferry will not be operating in 2022.

    8. Are there rentals available?

    Yeah! Canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) can be rented through the Bon Echo Paddle Center in Lagoon, near Main Beach.

    All Mazinaw Lake rentals are available on a first-come, first-served basis; Reservations are not offered.

    Rental periods: up to 4 hours, up to 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Multi-day rentals are also available in 24-hour increments.
    For safety: Mazinaw Lake rentals may be suspended at any time due to high winds or weather alerts/watches, at the discretion of staff.

    Fall Paddle Center Hours:
    Monday from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

    Tuesday from 10 am – noon

    Wednesday: Closed

    Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    9. I only have a few hours: what trail should I do?

    If you’re only visiting Bon Echo for a few hours but would like to hit the trails, there are options for you!

    Bon Echo Creek Trail – 1 km one-way trail, which takes approximately 40 minutes to walk

    The Bon Echo Creek Trail follows the shore of Bon Echo Creek and is mostly flat, making it a great first hike for our youngest visitors.


    High Pines Trail – 1.7 km loop, taking about 1 hour to walk

    The High Pines Trail is the perfect length for visitors looking for a short but scenic hike. This trail will take you through a beautiful mixed forest ecosystem.

    Shield Trail – 4.8km loop, taking approximately 2 hours to walk

    The Shield Trail is the optimal choice for visitors who want to spend the day on a trail! In just two hours, hikers will find mixed forests, a beaver pond, and a lakeside ecosystem.

    10. What should/shouldn’t I pack?

    What you should pack: sunscreen, hat, water, snacks, swimsuits, children’s life jackets, a change of clothes, towels, insect repellent (with DEET), and reusable picnic items.

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    What you should not pack: alcohol (only allowed at your registered campsite, not on the beach), firewood (no campfires allowed on the beach), and drones.

    person on the beach

    We do not recommend packing: large beach equipment (including volleyball nets, oversized umbrellas or canopies (can be difficult to set up on busy days), radios, and single-use plastics.

    You can find trash cans located throughout the park.

    We encourage visitors to practice the “pack it up, pack it down” method. Be prepared to take home larger trash items (such as broken chairs or beach umbrellas).

    11. Can I bring my dog?

    Absolutely! Please note that dogs are not allowed on our beaches.

    That doesn’t mean your furry friend can’t go swimming! There is a designated pet-friendly beach located between Main Beach and South Beach.

    dog on the beach

    After a dip in the lake, take a stroll along the pet exercise trail located in the South Beach parking lot.

    Pets can enjoy off-leash play in both locations! But remember, always pick up debris and don’t leave it hanging.

    12. Where can I have lunch?

    Greystones Gift Shoppe and Café operated by Friends of Bon Echo offers hot and cold beverages, baked goods and ice cream. Greystones is open Thursday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm.

    Greystone CoffeeGray Stones Coffee

    You will also find a variety of restaurants and diners in the nearby towns of Cloyne, Northbrook and Denbigh.

    13. Can I spend the night?

    Yes, but Bon Echo is an extremely popular summer camping destination and often fills up months in advance.

    crossing site

    If you are interested in camping at Bon Echo, book in advance through the Ontario Parks online reservation system or phone line.

    14. Are some parts of the park closed?

    On May 21, 2022, Bon Echo Provincial Park suffered significant damage throughout the park due to the severe weather and storm system that occurred in southern Ontario. Some sections of the park will remain closed in 2023.

    Hardwood Hill Campground, Abes and Essens Trail, and Campgrounds 528, 529, and 530 will be closed in 2023 as restoration efforts continue. Campgrounds #526 and #527 will open June 5, 2023 with direct round-trip trail access only.

    15. What does the park staff want me to know?

    If you ask any of our staff, they will tell you that taking care of a park this size is a team effort.

    We work hard to ensure Bon Echo is clean and its ecosystems are healthy and intact.

    person walking

    Park visitors have a role to play in keeping Bon Echo healthy by asking: How can I help protect and preserve the park?

    Helping protect and preserve the park could be by:

    • Dispose of trash in designated trash containers to reduce litter
    • stay on designated trails and roads so as not to disturb the ecosystems found along the trail
    • respecting wildlife by not leaving food remains to be consumed. It is important that wild animals maintain their natural diet, which does not include human food.

    Learn more about how you can help protect and preserve parks.