Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review: Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park - Crab Lake

Location:  70 km North of Peterborough
Website: My CCR or Ontario Parks
Map: Google Maps or Boyaker's Site
Camping Facilities: Backcountry Exclusively
Grade: B
Summary: Decent lake, though somewhat small with limited options once you arrive.
Thoughts: I'm very glad to hear that Kawartha Highlands is now an operating park.  I'm hopeful that this will only improve the quality of the park's camping experience, now that it actually has some revenue and regulation.  We'll see, though.  As well, its nice that an operating backcountry park exists within a short drive of the Golden Horseshoe.  If you'd like a park map, you can call the park and order one (for a fee of $8, including shipping & handling) or have a look at a rough map here.  I'm sure it won't be long till maps are available at your favorite outdoor equipment retailer.  As an aside, if it were up to me, all canoe route maps would be available online so people can plan with ease; I feel that this wouldn't affect revenue, because people generally want a large scale map to carry around, not just a print out (if that is indeed the fear of good folks at Ontario Parks and the MNR).  But its not up to me, so consider this a suggestion.

From my experience accessing through Wolf Lake, I think one can have a reasonably rugged camping experience in this part of Kawartha Highlands.  Lots of motorboats on Wolf, but the paddle in is a pleasant one.  There are sites on Wolf, but I can't imagine why you would want to stay there.  The portage into Crab is pretty straight forward once you find it (and very short, which is always welcome), though can get pretty buggy in peak mosquito season.  From what we saw, the best sites were the probably 311 & 312.  The lake is pretty rocky, so heads up when paddling around.

One minor complaint about Crab lake; once you arrive, that's all there is to do.  There's no other portages to other lakes, there's not much to be gained from backtracking into Wolf and Crab lake itself is somewhat small and can be explored in half a day (and that's stretching it out).  As well, the raccoons are pretty active, so be careful.

But all things considered, this is a very accessible backcountry experience, with seemingly good fishing too.  A worthwhile overnight trip.


  1. I was on Crab Lake a few times both one day and overnight 2009-2010 seasons. Like it very much.
    (see my blog: http://yaktraveller.blogspot.com/
    Going to come this year but cannot find reliable information on the present status/practice of campsite occupation. No info on Internet. It looks like the only way to call long distance to the Park headquarter in Bancroft :(. Have somebody been there this summer?

  2. From what I understand, all reservations have to be done through the park office and you are expected to pay in advance of your arrival by arranging your trip over the phone. It seems as though they don't want people to camp at the park without finalizing their trip in advance. Its somewhat difficult to do so if you don't have a park map, which is only available through their office right now. I hope it works out for you!

  3. I think I'll go for one day trip there and learn myself how it goes. May be take a picture of the site map at the launch spot. Last year they eliminated my favored campsite on the small island. May be restored this year? I'll check.