Charleston Lake

Biking

There is excellent biking on park roads.

Birding

Charleston Lake offers a variety of excellent birding opportunities for its visitors. Depending on the season, birders have a chance to see Bald Eagles, Red-Shouldered Hawks, Cerulean Warblers, Yellow-Throated Vireos, and Black-Billed and Yellow-Billed Cuckoos.

Boating

Powerboats are permitted on Charleston Lake except for the designated areas in Running’s Bay and Slim Bay. The lake offers excellent opportunities for fishing, sight seeing, water skiing and other boating activities.

Canoeing

Charleston Lake offers many opportunities for paddle sport enthusiasts. Paddlers can explore the lake’s 75 km of shoreline and numerous bays and coves. Portions of Running’s Bay and Slim Bay are designated motorboat-free which enhances the paddling opportunities for our visitors. Sea kayaking has become increasingly popular on the lake as it lends well to this type of vessel.

The park has two portages available for paddlers. One leads to Killenbeck Lake and the other to Redhorse Lake. This provides paddlers with an extra challenge and an opportunity to improve on their portaging skills. Both Killenbeck and Redhorse are excellent paddling destinations as well so visitors have access to three lakes for paddling.

Paddlers can take advantage of our day-use sites as they are excellent spots for a picnic, to swim or to take a break.

Fishing

Charleston Lake is widely known as an excellent fishing destination. Anglers fish for Lake Trout, Large and Small Mouth Bass, Northern Pike, Black Crappie, Yellow Perch and other species of panfish.

Hiking

Sandstone Island Trail: Interpretive trail, 2.6 km loop, moderate difficulty
This trail features the geological and human history of the park.  The highlight of the trail is a rock shelter that was used some 1,200 years ago by Aboriginal peoples of the area.

Shoreline Centennial Trail: Interpretive trail, 2 km loop, moderate difficulty
Enjoy scenic shoreline views along the trail and learn how the Charleston Lake area was a popular vacation destination for many wealthy citizens in the 1880s.

Beech Woods Trail: Interpretive trail, 1.8 km loop, easy
Hikers will get a chance to see mature, mixed forest and diverse habitats.

Hemlock Ridge Trail: Interpretive trail, 1.7 km loop, moderate difficulty
This trail features the plant communities of the park. Hikers will see an old beaver pond and hike through unique rock crevices.

Quiddity Trail: 2.4 km non-looping trail, easy
Hike over a boardwalk crossing a wetland and enjoy the scenic lookout at the end of the trail. The first 300m of the trail including both boardwalks are barrier-free.

Tallow Rock Bay Trail: 10 km loop, difficult
Hikers on this trail will get a chance to see the varying landforms that are present on the Frontenac Arch. Hike through meadows, rock barrens, and rock ridges as you walk along the shores of the Charleston Lake. The floating Slim Bay bridge is a highlight of this trail.

Blue Mountain Trail: Accessible via Huckleberry Hollow, 5.7km in length, not a loop, difficult
Hike to the top of Blue Mountain where you will get scenic vistas from the highest point in Leeds County. On a clear day you can see the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. Hikers will walk through mature, mixed forests, wetlands, rock ridges and see one of the most natural parts of the park.

Natural Heritage Education

During the operating season, Charleston Lake has an excellent Natural Heritage Education (NHE) program which offers a variety of interactive programs for all ages. Campers can attend guided hikes, evening programs, campfires, children’s programs at the Discovery Centre, and special events such as Settler’s Weekend and Star Gazing with Terrence Dickinson.

Swimming

Charleston Lake has two designated swimming beaches, one in the day-use area and one in Shady Ridge campground. These beaches are excellent for all ages as the shoreline and lake bed are gently sloping. Both beaches are marked with buoys, however, it should be noted that lifeguards are not on duty and that animals are not permitted on the beaches.