Chill out in Ontario Parks’ backcountry

Looking to chill out in Ontario Parks’ backcountry? Here are six provincial parks that offer canoe and kayak rentals and hiking trails that access unique park landscapes. Algonquin and Killarney Provincial Parks are iconic and known around the world. The other four are not as well-known but still offer incredible backcountry camping.

Algonquin Provincial Park
2,000 kilometres of canoe routes and three backpacking trails, ranging in length from 6 to 88 kilometres, access the interior of Algonquin Provincial Park. 14 backcountry cabins are also available for rent The park’s Canoe Routes Map is your best bet for canoe trip planning. Order it online from the park store. Details on Algonquin’s backpacking trails can also be sourced on The Friends of Algonquin Park website. 14 fomer ranger cabins built in the early to mid-1900s can be rented. Most accommodate up to four visitors but two can hold larger groups. They are equipped with basic amenities including bunks, table and chairs, CSA approved wood stove, wash basin and outside closed-in toilet. Five of the cabins are accessible by car. The rest can be reached by canoe in 1-2 days.

Bon Echo Provincial Park
Interior campsites are located along Bon Echo’s Abes and Essens Lake overnight hiking trail and accessible on Joeperry and Pearson Lakes by canoe. Each site has a picnic table, tent space and a toilet nearby. Three interconnected loops make up the Abes and Essens Trail ranging in distance from from 4 to 17 kilometres. Paddlers can extend their trip to 5 or 6 days and incorporate the Mississippi Canoe Route which is a circuit that connects Bon Echo’s waterways to other lakes and rivers in Eastern Ontario. Bon Echo is a popular park so reservations are a must.

Grundy Lake Provincial Park
Grundy Lake Provincial Park is between Parry Sound and Sudbury off the TransCanada Highway. One of the Voyageurs’ famous canoe routes can be accessed from this park. The route follows the French and Pickerel Rivers into Georgian Bay. Ten backcountry campsites accessible only by canoe are available on a first-come, first-served basis. They are perfect for families who want to try out interior canoe and kayak tripping but remain close to the conveniences of the park campgrounds a short paddle away.

Killarney Provincial Park
Often referred to as one of Ontario Parks’ crown jewels, Killarney Provincial Park, four hours northwest of Toronto, has 140 backcountry canoe-in sites and 33 hike-in sites available all year. Hikers often break up the 100 kilometre La Cloche Silhouette Trail into shorter hikes starting from two trailheads in the George Lake Campground. 11 canoe routes access the 140 canoe-to campsites. A Killarney Provincial Park Canoe Guide and a Killarney Provincial Park Map are helpful with trip planning. You can order both online from the Friends of Killarney Park store.

Murphys Point Provincial Park
Murphys Point Provincial Park’s 12 boat-in sites are unique because boaters can access them from the Rideau Canal, a World UNESCO Heritage waterway in Eastern Ontario. The park also has two canoe-in campsites and several hiking trails including one that accesses the Rideau Trail, a 300 kilometre trail between Kingston to Ottawa. An extensive park heritage program includes tours of the Silver Queen Mica Mine that operated here between 1903 and 1920.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
The 40 kilometre Kabeyun overnight backtracking trail is the longest of the 17 Sleeping Giant hiking trails. This Lake Superior shoreline route starts at the Thunder Bay lookout then rounds the tip of the peninsula known as the Sleeping Giant’s feet before ending at the trailhead at Highway 587. Beaches and coves are found along the way. 40 backcountry campsites are found on the Kabeyun and other trails in the park.

The Park Locator is a valuable tool that will help you search other Ontario Parks that offer backcountry camping. For information on how to reserve a backcountry campsite or cabin, log on to Ontario Parks reservations.