Bon Echo Park (Provincial Park) is one of Ontario's largest provincial parks supporting a large number of car campers. There are also some wilderness campsites, and, access to the deeper recesses of the park.
It is a popular destination for both Ottawans and Torontonians, so good luck booking a camp site for any long weekend. Avoid a long weekend if you can, and you may be treated to a quieter tour of the famous Mazinaw rock, reminiscent of the Squamish Chief in B.C. that is also popular with hikers and climbers.
In fact you will see the Alpine Club of Canada boat dropping off climbers at several climb routes along the two kilometer rock face that rises over 100m out of the water. Straight out of the water!
You can canoe or sea kayak along the granite rock wall at the waterline, examining some 240 pictographs along the way.
This would involve an out and back 5km to 7km paddle stopping off at a few beaches here and there. A full day paddle might involve paddling to the ACC hut and portaging for the longer triangle route (that we didn't do) which would make for a quieter wilder circuit.
If doing the triangle route circling Mazinaw rock, be prepared for 3 portages, the first 1500m long and starting at the ACC (Alpine Club of Canada) hut. There are two shorter portages in the range of 200 to 400m, and this helps keep the powerboats away from you.
Canoe and kayak rentals are available from the day use / boat launch parking area at reasonable rates.
For those interested in hiking, you've got several trails within the Provincial park from the Abes and Essens trail (17km) to shorter 4km loops. You can walk to the trailheads from your campsite for the most part.
Another short hike with a great view from the top of Mazinaw rock itself is accessable from a dock opposite the day use boat launch (250m away), resulting in a 500m steep hike to a lookout deck maintained by the Provincial park. Presumably one could hike the entire ridge top and we saw evidence of trails from our canoe lunch spot at the far end of Mazinaw rock where the ridge drops to water level - not far from the ACC hut. Here you can tie a canoe up and have lunch or explore on land a bit.
Bon Echo is great for large groups giving everyone in the group something to do from beach swimming, to family canoeing, to a fmore rigorous full day paddle circuit with portages, to a 17km Abes and Essens trek for the trail runner or hiker.
My overall feeling of this area -- is that it's absolutely worth seeing Mazinaw rock, it's impressive. For families, this may be the best way to make the kids happy while getting a fix of outdoor activity you may long for. The car camping sites are at least spread out from each other -- so if this is your gig, it's not bad. Wilderness trekkers will be dissapointed with the car camping options and human traffic, so you'd be encouraged to venture deeper into the park -- even perhaps where there are no trails. Considering there is considerable granite rock and shield, it is possible to route find along the ridge tops. This whole area is made up of rock, highlands, lakes, swamps, rock barrens, and wild topography. Bikers can examine the nearby Shabomeka trail network, and, the nearby lakes (land o lakes) offers unlimited watersport.
Hwy #41 north from Kaladar on Hwy #7 either from Ottawa or Toronto. It's about 40 minutes north of Kaladar, with a few small towns along the way should you need wild blueberries for your pancakes, or, corn! You can't miss the Provincial park entrance, you'll see signs for it. One can also drive south from Renfrew on #41.
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Posted By: Sammyanta
- Tue Sep 04 15:08:15 EDT 2007
CommentBeen twice and both times the place was busy as it is a very family orientated site. There is a great safe beach for adults and children alike to play in. There are a couple of launch sites with car parks which makes life easy if you bring your own canoe or kayak. But hiring is on a first come first served basis, which means waiting on the busy days and they are a bit basic. Try to see the Mazinaw rock up close for the pictographs and then take a more distant impressionist view from the other lake shoreline to really appreciate it magnitude.