Discover Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park in Ontario

Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park is a stunning natural park located in North Kawartha, Ontario, Canada.  It’s one of the two largest parks in Southern and Central Ontario, second only to Algonquin in size. The park is open year-round, offering backcountry camping, canoeing, swimming, fishing, birding, and hunting, but please note you won’t find any hiking trails or manicured public beaches at this park! If you’re not into backcountry camping and prefer to access the park only for day excursions, enjoying your nighttime entertainment in a more electronic fashion with comfortable beds, your best option will be to stay at one of our many rental cottages in the Kawarthas nearby, with all the modern conveniences.

Waterfront in the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, one of Ontario's largest Provincial Parks
Source: Ontario Parks

With over 300 lakes and rivers, you could spend many days exploring the entire park, so it’s perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, especially the more adventurous type, as this is not a campground with typical camping amenities. Kawartha Lakes Provincial Park is just 2 hours from Toronto, making even day trips possible!

How to Get to Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park

There are backcountry access points only to the park, to the east, south, and west, with designated parking at each.  The road that will take you into the heart of the park itself, to Anstruther Lake, is off Anstruther Lake Road, just south of Apsley, Ontario, off Highway 28.

Along Anstruther Lake Road you’ll find three separate access points into lakes – Loon Call Lake, Wolf Lake, then finally Anstruther Lake, approximately in the middle of Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park. Another access point to the east is Long Lake Road, 20 km north of Burleigh Falls, also off Highway 28.  This access point is a short distance off the highway and takes you to Long Lake.

To access the southern part of the park, the entrance is off Coon Lake Road, just north of Burleigh Falls, and from the west off Highway 36 just north of Buckhorn and into Mississagua Lake (not to be confused with Mississauga, in southern Ontario!), and in Catchacoma to the north of Buckhorn (off County Road 507) there are two more access points off Beaver Lake Road.

Things to do at Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park | Camping, Canoeing, Boating, Fishing, Birdwatching

Activities include boating, canoeing, birding, backcountry camping, fishing, and even hunting when in season. Day guests are welcome, and you’ll find there are limited day use facilities at a few of the access points to the park. There are no hiking trails in Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park which is a bit unusual so if you’re looking for a big hike, this may not be the Park for you!

Backcountry Camping in Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park

For campers looking for a less convenient, more remote and private, type of camping, backcountry camping is the perfect choice!  Advance reservations are recommended to secure your campsite, and may be obtained online or by phone up to five months in advance of your arrival date. 

Interior camping permits are also required, and can be printed at home within 14 days of your arrival date or can be obtained in-person at the park office located in Bancroft. There is no office at the park itself, but you’ll find the park office in Bancroft, at the Ministry of Natural Resources, at Monck Street.

Canoeing in Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park. Portaging and backcountry camping are popular at this Park.
Source: Wandering Wagars

Upon arrival at your access point of choice, there are instructions on how to obtain a permit for your vehicle(s). Campsites are accessed by boat only.  Each campsite has a picnic table, fire ring, and box privy, and most have at least three camp spots, great for small group camping.

Winter camping and even hunting is also permitted in season, subject to the Ontario Hunting Regulations, with some restrictions. More park-specific hunting information can be obtained at the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Boating and Canoeing in Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park

Motor boats are permitted on most lakes, and you’ll find there are boat launches for small boats at several of the access points: Anstruther, Wolf, Loon Call and Long Lakes.

Six well-defined canoe routes travel through the park, with marked portages, ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty, making this an ideal destination for canoeing too, and maybe canoe camping if you choose to combine it with backcountry camping. A canoe route map can be purchased from the park office in Bancroft.

Not just for the backcountry adventure campers, Kawartha Highlands also offers many options for those who want to visit the park just for the day too!  Bring a packed lunch, launch your canoe or boat, and be sure to stop and have a swim at a quiet lakeside spot, perhaps having it all to yourselves!   

Fishing in the Park | Kawartha Highlands

The park’s many lakes are home to a wide range of fish species, including Lake Trout, Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Splake, Walleye, Small and Largemouth Bass, and panfish. There are 17 stocked trout lakes in the park!

Birdwatching and Birding (yes, they’re very different activities!)

You’ll find Common Loons, Osprey, Great Blue Herons at the park, specifically on the lakes. The rocky habitat leads to certain species, like the Whip-poor-will being commonly found at the park. Other birds that call the Park home include the Common Nighthawk, Scarlet Tanager and Eastern Towhee, and other species of warblers, vireos and sparrows are found in the park as well.  Bring your binoculars and cameras!

Bird watching at Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park

What Wildlife Can You Expect to See at Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park?

The Park is home to many beautiful animals, as one would expect from a nature preserve such as the Kawartha Highlands. Whether running into a rare bird, or seeing a doe (female deer) with her fawns, there are many different species that call the Park home. Wildlife sightings may include moose, deer, eastern wolves and black bears. While black bear sightings are rare given they try to avoid human interaction, be sure to keep on the lookout for any bear sightings to make sure you stay safe on your trip! Food should always be stored safely when camping to avoid any unneeded animal encounters.

You’ll find that Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park is a true natural gem that’s well worth exploring, offering something for everyone who loves the great outdoors, from day-trippers enjoying some fishing, canoeing, or swimming to true backcountry adventurous campers making their way through the entire park during their stay.  Book your Kawarthas private cottage rental today and start planning your day trips to the Park! If you’re not staying directly in the Kawarthas, we also have many great Kawartha Lakes cottage rentals.

CottageLINK Rental Management
Toll Free: 1-866 323 6698

Our Hours:
Mon-Fri 9-5
Sat-Sun 9-5

Business Address:
PO Box 39036
Columbia PO, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2T 0A7

Email Sign Up

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.