View from a backcountry campsite looking out at a lake with the sun setting over the water

How to plan a trip to Frontenac

Frontenac is a four-season backcountry park with great opportunities for interior camping, hiking, paddling, and winter activities!

Nestled within the Frontenac Arch, Frontenac has a unique landscape not typically found in Southern Ontario. You’ll discover a diverse range of habitats, plants, and animals. With upland forests, rocky ridges, and tranquil lakes, camping is only accessible to paddlers, backpackers, and snowshoers.

Planning a trip to Frontenac? Here’s what you need to know to have a fun and frustration-free visit:

  1. What’s new in 2023?
  2. How do I make a camping reservation?
  3. What is at each campsite?
  4. Can I collect firewood?
  5. How do I buy a day pass when the office is closed?
  6. Can I bring my dog?
  7. What is there to do at Frontenac?
  8. Do you rent canoes?
  9. Will my phone get reception?
  10. Can I bring my motorboat into the park?
  11. When does Big Salmon Lake Road close?
  12. What do I need to know about backcountry etiquette?

1. What’s new in 2023?

Year-round reservations (available April 28)

To make winter camping more accessible, we’ve made our campsites reservable year-round. Reservations can be made up to five months in advance of your arrival date.

Remote permitting (available April 28)

Frontenac has implemented a new, streamlined reservation and registration procedure for 2023. This new procedure is designed to allow campers to go directly to their campsite, without picking up a permit at the park office.

Before your trip, ensure all your reservation details are correct. This includes:

  • party size
  • name of party member(s)
  • trip itinerary
  • licence plate number(s)
  • description of equipment (eg. tent, canoe, and/or pack colour, pets, etc.)

Please have an electronic or printed copy of your confirmation letter with you.

NOTE: If you will be parking at Big Salmon Lake, Arab Lake, or the Office parking lot, please be sure to select, “Yes” you will be parking within the park, when making your reservation. Otherwise, park staff will not have your licence plate on file, and you may receive a parking ticket.

Advance daily vehicle permits (available April 28)

Daily vehicle permits will now be available in advance. Permits will become available at 7:00 am, five days in advance of your arrival date.

This will allow you to purchase your daily vehicle permit online, before coming to the park. This also means you can guarantee your entry during busier times of the year, such as the fall.

We strongly recommend seasonal permit holders reserve their spot, especially in the fall and winter. On their own, seasonal permits don’t guarantee access to a park. If the park reaches capacity, no additional vehicles can enter without a reservation, including seasonal permit holders.

The benefit of your seasonal permit is that you can make your day-use reservation for free! When making your reservation, you can input your permit’s serial number, which will adjust your fee due to $0.

2. How do I make a camping reservation?

Reservations can be made:

  • online (select the “Backcountry” tab)
  • by phone at 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275)
  • in person at the park office

Reservations are site-specific. Be sure to research your route before making a reservation. Park maps are available for purchase online and at the park office.

Remember, don’t overextend yourself. Travel within your capabilities and according to weather conditions.

3. What will I find on my campsite?

Each site is equipped with a fire pit, bench, privy/thunderbox, tent pad, and a picnic table (except campsite 16).

Each site also has a food locker so you can safely store your food away from wildlife. The inside dimensions of the food lockers are 30” long by 15” wide and 20” deep.

A number of our sites have wooden tent platforms, including:

  • Campsite 2 A & C
  • Cluster 3
  • Campsite 4 A, B, & D
  • Cluster 5
  • Campsite 8 C
  • Cluster 9
  • Campsite 10 C
  • Campsite 11 B, C, & D
  • Campsite 14
  • Campsite 15
  • Campsite 16

A square wooden platform in a wooded area next to a large lake.

Wooden tent platforms are 16’ x 16’ and have fence staples along the outside edge to help secure your tent. We recommend bringing extra paracord or purchasing fishbone tent peg anchors to help secure your tent to the platform.

4. Is firewood available?

Each provincial park is guided by approved management direction. Generally, collection of natural objects such as dead wood in provincial parks is prohibited; however, in some backcountry/wilderness parks, collection of dead wood for a camp fire is permitted through approved management direction.

At Frontenac Provincial Park, you can collect dead, fallen wood or purchase firewood from the park office. We ask that campers help protect our forests by not bringing in their own firewood.

We also encourage the use of portable refillable camp stoves in the interior as a means of reducing the need for recreational fires. The use of portable stoves reduce the site degradation caused by the removal of vegetation for campfires and decreases the removal of ecologically important woody debris.

Campers who bring firewood from home may accidently spread harmful forest pests such as Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, that threaten the health of our forests.

5. How do I buy a permit when the office is closed?

If you will be arriving outside office hours, you will need to obtain your camping or daily vehicle permit online.

We will no longer be accepting manual cash payments outside of office hours.

6. Can I bring my dog?

A brown dog in a green harness sits on a rock overlooking a frozen lake

Of course! We love to see our visitors enjoying the park with their furry friends!

Pets must always remain on a two-metre leash at all times, and we kindly ask that you clean up after them.

7. What is there to do at Frontenac?

A person standing on a rockface lookout over a large lake with a treed shore in the distance

Never been to Frontenac? No problem!

With our 100+ km trail network, we offer trails for any level of hiker. Stop by the park office to pick up a trail map and use the washroom (this will be your last chance for a flush toilet). This is also a great opportunity to ask staff for trail recommendations.

Hiking not your style? Bring your canoe, kayak, or SUP and go paddling on Big Salmon Lake for the day!

The park does not have a beach or designated swimming area. However, you are allowed to swim off the shoreline at the park office or where any trails meet the lakes.

Once the snow starts to fly, Frontenac turns into a winter wonderland! Plan a trip to Frontenac this winter.

8. Do you rent canoes?

We do not, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying time out on the water!

A canpe resting on the edge of a lake with a trekking backpack off to the side

Frontenac Outfitters, located just 2 km before the park entrance, rents canoes, kayaks, and SUPS!

9. Will my phone get reception?

Cell service is limited within the park. If your cell provider is Rogers or Fido, you may have service. Otherwise, you will likely not have service.

There is a cell phone booster located within the self-serve station at the park office.

10. Can I bring my motorboat in the park?

Motorboats are permitted on boundary lakes such as Birch, Kingsford, Buck, and Devil Lake. However, they are prohibited on interior lakes in the park, including Big Salmon Lake.

11. When does Big Salmon Lake Road close?

Big Salmon Lake Road closes at 4:00 pm on the second Sunday in November. The road remains closed until mid-to-late April.

During the winter months, you can park at the Office parking lot.

A grove of evergreen trees towering along a rocky outcrop that extends into a lake

12. What do I need to know about backcountry etiquette? 

New to backcountry camping? We’re here to help! Please speak with our park staff if you have specific questions about the park. Before you head out,  check out our backcountry blogs here for important skills and tips: