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Canoeing in Ontario's Highlands

When you arrive in Ontario’s Highlands you’ll have your choice of thousands of calm lakes and rivers to paddle on. From a canoe or kayak, you can enjoy the peace and stillness that only floating along a glass-like surface can bring.





Flatwater kayaking

Grab a kayak (or rent one from one of the many shops in Ontario’s Highlands) and head out onto the lake for a day or weekend of paddling fun. From your scenic vantage point out on the water, you can get in touch with nature and with yourself, too. Many kayaks are large enough to store camping equipment so you can stay overnight in one of the region’s provincial parks at a water-access only site or back at the main campsite grounds.

An explanation of the sport of paddling – Find your passion in paddling and learn more about the two most popular sub-categories: canoeing and kayaking
Flatwater kayaking (including video) – Tips on getting started with flatwater kayaking and where to find more information
Flatwater kayaks – About flatwater kayaking and what to expect
Getting started in the sport of paddling – The following questions and associated resources offer a guide to help you figure out exactly what type of paddling is right for you


Canoeing is a great activity for all skill levels and at any age. Even if you’d rather take in the scenery instead of paddle, find yourself a couple of friends or family members to steer the canoe and you can get cozy in the center of the vessel and enjoy the ride. Canoeing in Ontario’s Highlands is an age-old activity and you can travel down some historic routes just like the early settlers and voyageurs did years ago.

An explanation of the sport of paddling – Find your passion in paddling and learn more about the two most popular sub-categories: canoeing and kayaking
Canoeing, Wikipedia – Learn more about the history and sport of canoeing
Choosing a canoe – Learn how to select the type of canoe that will best suit your needs
Getting started in the sport of paddling – The following questions and associated resources offer a guide to help you figure out exactly what type of paddling is right for you

Kayak and Canoe Equipment

For starters, you’ll need a canoe or kayak as well as a paddle if you want to propel yourself away from the shore. But there are other essential items – and some non-essential, too – that you may want to consider before embarking on your trip.

Dress for water safety – A list of the top 10 paddling and water safety items
Essential canoe equipment – Pointers on how to choose a canoe and related gear
What equipment do I need to start kayaking? – Find out what essential gear is needed as a kayaker as well as non-essential equipment you may want to consider

Regional Highlights

If your paddle’s ready, there’s a canoe or kayak route waiting for you. Slip into the water with one of these paddling experiences that make it possible to escape the hustle and bustle. No need to hurry, bring a swimsuit or fishing rod and make your paddling trip into a full day excursion.

A Paddle Experience with Yours Outdoors, Haliburton – Carve a paddle through the still waters on Margaret, Dan, Horse, and McEwen Lakes on this full day guided canoe trip
Day tripping routes in Eastern Ontario – Check out the “On the road… to paddling waterways” section for canoe guides in the Land O’ Lakes region
Kayak and canoe rentals, Calabogie Peaks – Rent a canoe or kayak and explore Calabogie Lake and the Madawaska River
Rideau Heritage Route – Rent a kayak or canoe and head out onto the historic Rideau Heritage Route

Flatwater Lakes and Rivers

Not quite sure where to launch your paddling adventure? Check out this list of flatwater lakes and rivers in the region and pick the closest one to you – or if you prefer, the one furthest from civilization.

Flatwater Lakes

Baptiste Lake Hungry Lake Marble Lake
Belmont Lake Kamaniskeg Lake Mazinaw Lake
Big Rideau Lake Kashagawigamog Lake Mississagagon Lake
Buckshot Lake Kashwakamak Lake Moira Lake
Bull Lake Kawagama Lake Paudash Lake
Crotch Lake Kennebec Lake Round Lake
Crowe Lake Kennisis Lake Scootamata Lake
Elephant Lake Lake Clear Sharbot Lake
Golden Lake Limerick Lake Stoco Lake
Gull Lake Lower Rideau

Flatwater Rivers

Black River Rideau River
Bonnechere River Scootamata River
Crowe River Tay River
Gull River Tay Canal
Moira River York River
Rideau Canal

Flatwater Canoe and Kayak Trails

See the links below for a listing of canoe and kayak trail routes to be found in Ontario’s Highlands.

Canoe rivers, routes, and parks – From the listing of routes, check out the following that are in Ontario’s Highlands: Algonquin, Bon Echo Provincial Park, Madawaska River, Opeongo, Ottawa River, Petawawa, Rideau River
Haliburton Highlands canoeing – Find links to canoe trail listings and other canoe resources to help you plan your paddle adventure
Canoeing & kayaking, Ontario Trails Council – An extensive listing of canoe and kayak trails found in Ontario, including Ontario’s Highlands
Canoe route guide, Ottawa Valley Tourist Association – A variety of interesting paddling excursions suitable for various skill levels

Canoe and Kayak Trails, Ontario Trails Council

The Ontario Trails Council website is a great resource for canoe and kayak trails throughout Ontario. The following trails are located in Ontario’s Highlands:

Abes and Essens Lake Trail – The Abbes and Essens trail features three loops: a 4 kilometre, 9 kilometre, and 17 kilometre
Barron Canyon Water Trail – This 7-kilometre route is one of the most popular and awe-inspiring of the 1,600 kilometres of established canoe routes in Algonquin Park
Beaver Dam Lookout – Circle an active beaver pond and read all about beavers and their impact on the environment at six interpretive stops along this 2-kilometre route
Beaver Marsh Loop Trail – This trail takes you past an old beaver pond and gives you a chance to investigate a marsh ecosystem along the Bonnechere River in the Ottawa Valley region
Bentshoe – Crane – Poker – Cinder Loop – This 1 to 2 day backcountry loop starts at Highway 118 (Big East Access Point parking lot) crossing the highway to Bentshoe Lake and then heading northeast into the Crane Lakes, Poker Lake, Muck Lake, and then Cinder lake at the north end of the loop
Big East Loop – This 1 to 2 day loop starts at Highway 118 (Big East Access Point parking lot), and continues south through and around picturesque Big East Lake
Big Hawk – Red Pine – Nunikani Loop – This 2 to 4 day route focuses on Red Pine, Clear, and Nunikani Lakes with short portages
Big Hawk – Sherborne Loop – Starting at Big Hawk Lake Access Point, this route goes through No Name Pond, Summit Pond, Sherborne Lake, and returns to Big Hawk
Bon Echo Creek Trail – Spend a day or plan an overnight trip to paddle this route that includes paddling around Mazinaw Rock on Mazinaw Lake and seeing the more than 260 native pictographs painted on the rock’s surface
Bufflehead Trail – From Otter Lake, canoeists head into the interior for glimpses of osprey and kingfisher, deer and black bear, coyote and fox, and abundant beaver along this 7.5-kilometre route
Cedar Lake Trail – This loop features the largest complex of wetlands within Frontenac Provincial Park
Corry Lake – A varied day’s canoeing starts at the narrow point of Chalk River and passes through an open vista of an unspoilt wetland before traversing Otterson Lake and Corry Lake
Deer – Black River – Gun – Herb Route – The travel portion of this route can be done in 1 to 2 days, but there are also side trips and other route possibilities
Discovery Trail – Canoe along Black and Sharbot Lake and cast your line for warm- and cold-water fishing
Doe Lake Trail – See two beaver ponds and paddle along the shore of Otter Lake in Frontenac Park
Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance – Canoe in the Land O’ Lakes region under old and new bridges and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and birds
Grants Creek – This canoe route winds through small lakes, a large marsh (a provincially significant wetland) and includes rapids, a waterfall, and plentiful wildlife
Hemlock Lake Trail – Paddle along Hemlock Lake and into Hardwood Bay of Devil Lake
Herb – Gun Route – This route can be done in a day or several as you travel from Herb Lake access point south into Ernest Lake followed by a portage out the far end past Brandy Falls into Gun Lake
High Pines Trail – This trail takes you past tall pines, through groves of hemlock, and beside forest ponds that are a long-time favourite of photographers
Kawagama Lake Canoe Route – Generally accessed from the end of Road #8 at the Kawagama South Shore, the Kawagama Lake canoe route is a 20-kilometre paddle that commonly takes one full day to complete
Kawagama Lake Route – Trips may start from one of several access points throughout the Haliburton Highlands area; some of the routes are loops and most access points are unsupervised
Kennisis – Red Pine – Little Hawk Loop – This 2 to 3 day loop starts at Kennisis Lake Dam, continues through Red Pine Lake, south through Clear Lake and into Little Hawk Lake before heading back through Cat Lake and into Kennisis Lake
Lake St. Peter Lookout Trail – This trail crosses rugged terrain, passes close to a kettle lake, and leads to a spectacular lookout over Lake St. Peter
Little Hawk – Blackcat – Clear Loop – This nice short loop starts at the Little Hawk Lake Access Point and continues north through Blackcat Lake and takes 1 to 2 days to complete
Little Hawk, Bearcat, Clear Lake Canoe Route – If you’re in search of a serene paddle on relatively unused waters, the 13-kilometre Little Hawk Lake route is a first-rate option
Lower Madawaska River – This route is a canoe trail down the Lower Madawaska River into a 1,200 hectare protected area
Madawaska River – This 16-kilometre route takes you along a picturesque section of the Madawska River, passing by cottages, sections of undeveloped shoreline, and the hamlets of Springtown and Burnstow
Margaret – McEwen Lake Loop – A short, 1 to 2 day trip accessed from Highway 35, you will paddle to Three island and through McEwen and Dan Lake
Margaret – South Jean Route – This nice short route is accessed at Margaret Lake and follows a chain of lakes down to South Jean Lake, returning to the Margaret Lake access point
Margaret, McEwan Lake Canoe Route – This 6-kilometre route begins from the launch site on Margaret Lake and includes several portage and carry spots on dry land along the way
McManus Lake to Whitson Lake – This 20-kilometre canoe route travels through a series of long thin lakes on the east side of Algonquin Provincial Park
Minden Wild Water Trail – This trail treats visitors to the raw beauty of white water rapids, natural caves, and exposed granite rock
Mount Martin Trail – Launch your canoe from Deep River to cross the Ottawa River where you can reach a beautiful sandy shore and uninhabited area
Muskrat River – This flat water canoe day trip, 12 kilometres north of Cobden, travels from Muskrat Lake along Muskrat River to Mud Lake and further if you desire
Oak Highland Trail – View an active beaver dam and take in picturesque views from the mouth of the Dumoine River
Point Trail – Murphys Point – Located on the historic Rideau Waterway, paddling here also gives you access to exceptional fishing
Ridgeview Trail – Explore the shoreline of Black Lake and Sharbot Lake which are lined with maple and birch trees and include two sandy beaches
Shield Trail – Follow the canoe and kayak route in Bon Echo Provincial Park for a look at Mazinaw Rock on Mazinaw Lake and the more than 260 pictographs that cover the rock’s surface
Silver Queen Mine Trail – At Big Rideau Lake you can camp at boat-in only campsites and canoe along the still waters while casting your fishing road in exceptional fishing conditions
Slide Lake Trail – From Otter Lake, canoeists can head into the interior for glimpses of osprey and kingfisher, deer and black bear, coyote and fox, and an abundance of beavers
Snake River – This canoe route runs up to the edge of the proposed Snake River Conservation Reserve due to this area being a provincially significant wetland system
St. Nora – Kabakwa – Big Hawk – Sherborne Loop – This 2 to 3 day route is accessed at the Frost Center access point and heads south into Kushog Lake, then into Big Hawk before it continues into Sherborne Lake and finishes back at St. Nora Lake
St. Nora – Sherborne – Raven – Wren Route – This route starts on St. Nora Lake, and travels through Sherborne Lake, Raven Lake, and finishes at Wren Lake
St. Nora Lake Canoe Route – The 22-kilometre route often takes the better part of two days to complete and can be busy with fishermen and cottages but still offers enjoyment out on the lake
Sylvan Trail – Enjoy Big Rideau Lake and its boat-in only campsites, canoeing routes, and exceptional fishing
Wren Lake Canoe Route – Most people undertake this 15-kilometre trip over 3 to 4 days, camping at night in the forested area that surrounds the lakes

Flatwater Paddling Resources

Location: PO Box 219, Madawaska

Located on the sandy shoes of the Madawaska river and just a 15 minute drive to the beautiful Algonquin park. We offer 2 and 3 bedroom fully equipped housekeeping cottages.Canoing, hiking, biking, fishing, atving, boating, paddle boat, campfires, bbq,

(613) 637-5492
Location: 4024 Round Lake Road RR#5, Killaoe

Sandy Beach, Park Store, Canoe/Kayak Rentals, Laundry Facilities, Electrical Campsites, Cabins, Hiking Trails, Boat Launch, Playground, Waterfront Campsites on Bonnechere River, Kids & Family Programs, Trailer Dumping Station, Pet Friendly

(613) 757-2103
Location: 27 Booth Lane 2062 Mountain Grove Ave., Bancroft

This is a family oriented cottage rental business located 10 km. from Bancroft on a small pristine lake called Faraday Trout. Each cottage is very clean, modern and private. Excellent swimming and fishing available. Rowboat included in rental.

(905) 335-4275
Location: 521 Barrett Chute Road P.O. Box 227, Calabogie

4 season guesthouse rental on the shores of Calabogie Lake. 2 min to ski hill -- fully equiped - just bring your groceries. Sleeps 8, free wireless high speed internet, canoe & Kayak & satelite TV. Very peaceful. Pet Friendly

(613) 752-1156
Location: 6648 Road 506 P.O Box 97, Plevna

North Frontenac Parklands is a collection of 184 backcountry campsites nestled along the shores of 12 lakes atop the Madawaska Highlands and Mississippi Valley Watershed. Discover breathtaking beauty and quiet solitude and tranquility.

(613) 479-2231
Location: 39 Chemin Steinke, Ladysmith

Get IN to the Outdoors!! SUMMER: WW & FW Canoeing, Navigation, Dog Sledding, Wagon Rides WINTER: Dog Sledding, Snowshoeing, Winter Camping, Sleigh Rides GROUPS: Corporate, Youth, School, Community, Couples Getaways and Retreats Get IN to the Outdoors!

(819) 647-5476
Location: 1018 Smart Rd, Cloyne

Full Service Marina. Princecraft Boats, Mercury & Evinrude Etec Motors Sales and Service. Naylor Dock Systems. Check us out for all your cottage toys.. kayaks, canoes, wake boards, water skis, wake skates and much, much more! Come & visit us soon!

(613) 336-2222
Location: 691 Pinecrest Road, Boulter

A nature-friendly retreat on the York River in the beautiful Madawaska Valley. Activities include cottage & cabin rental, rustic camping, x-country skiing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, guided paddle excursions to Conroys Marsh & interpretive forest tours.

(613) 332-3651]ta[tserof
Location: Box 1650 258 Hastings St. N, Bancroft

Bancroft based Adventure Outfitting. Bicycles,Canoes,Kayaks,Cross Country Skis, Snowshoing. Sales Service Rentals. Area maps and Information. River Trip Excursions,Trip Planning, Guiding and Shuttle Services

(613) 332-1969
Location: 1344 Barry Line R.R.# 1, Haliburton

Yours Outdoors offere unique experiences in art, culture, and nature in the Haliburton Highlands. Our single and multiday packages are original, engaging, enlightening, and will connect you with communities and the great outdoors

(705) 754-3436


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