sunrise on lake

Backcountry for beginners: the best destinations

When executed safely, your first backcountry trip forges lifelong memories, opening an immersive getaway into nature.

But the leap from car camping to backcountry requires preparation and learning. New paddlers and hikers can find themselves in serious trouble if they overestimate their skills or choose a too-challenging route.

Here are some recommended trips for backcountry beginners:

Grundy Lake Provincial Park

Grundy Lake is the perfect spot to test the backcountry waters!

The park’s nine backcountry sites are a 10-30 minute paddle away (want to test yourself? Change your launch point to make the trip longer). Grundy Lake is motor-boat free, and travelling doesn’t require any portaging.

lake with docked canoe

Your sites are secluded enough for a true backcountry vibe, but close enough to the main campground that you can paddle back to enjoy your favourite Discovery program. Each site comes equipped with a fire pit, picnic table and thunder box.

Bon Echo Provincial Park

Many visitors don’t know about the 25 canoe-in campsites located on Joeperry and Pearson Lakes. A short canoe trip of 10-30 minutes will get you to your campsite.

couple canoeing

At each campsite, you will find a picnic table, tent space and a toilet nearby. Joeperry Lake has the added bonus of a beautiful sandy beach.

Bon Echo also boasts Abes & Essens Overnight Hiking Trail. Five campsites are available along the trail for overnight stays.

Charleston Lake Provincial Park

Experience the best of the Canadian Shield, and hike or paddle your way to ten backcountry campsites.

person standing on trail with hiking stick

Travel time can range from 10 minutes to two hours. All sites come equipped with elevated tent platforms, a picnic table, a fire grill, and a privy.

Frontenac Provincial Park

Explore rocky northern landscape in southern Ontario!

person standing on trail

Hike or paddle your way to Frontenac’s backcountry sites. Located in clusters, each campsite has its own tent pad, fire ring, bench, and picnic table. An enclosed privy toilet is shared at each campsite cluster.

Murphys Point Provincial Park

Paddle through Big Rideau Lake (part of the historic Rideau waterway) to access 14 backcountry sites. Most are located 5-45 minutes away from the boat launch.

campsite on water

You’ll find a picnic table, tent space, and a pit toilet nearby each site. Paddle back to visit Murphys’ piece of living history: the Mica Mine!

Restoule Provincial Park

Restoule offers 12 backcountry campsites, all accessible by water. Paddle beside ancient cedars and beautiful maple forests to your site. Your trip can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.

person canoeing on lake

Day paddling routes are more difficult, and are anywhere from one to five hours long. Make sure to know your group’s paddling skill level before arrival.

Fushimi Lake Provincial Park

Explore the lush Boreal forest of Fushimi Lake through these 13 backcountry campsites.

canoe on lake

Some of these campsites are located on their own private island with sandy beaches. Each site is accessible by canoe or motorboat, and has a firepit, picnic table, and pit privy.

Plan your adventure today!

Remember: backcountry travel requires careful consideration of packing, route planning, meal planning, safety, and your skill level.

Please make good decisions, and only explore backcountry opportunities that suit your skill and knowledge level.