Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park is a beautiful park near Peterborough rapidly growing in popularity, filled with countless lakes and scenery to explore.
Located just over 2.5 hours from Toronto, Kawartha Highlands is popular for backcountry canoeing in the summer months, but it’s also an amazing place to embrace the quiet winter season and take in the park’s serene beauty.
Kawartha Highlands is open year-round, and while they do not have roofed accommodations, it is a popular destination to try out winter camping, or just visit for the day to hike, ski, or snowshoe.
The park officially became operational in May 2011, making it one of Canada’s youngest provincial parks. At 375 square kilometres, it is also the second-largest park in southern Ontario, second only to Algonquin Provincial Park.
Due to its similar natural landscapes to Algonquin but closer proximity to the GTA, Kawartha Highlands is a great alternative for outdoor enthusiasts, who find the park is easier to book summer campsites in and is much less crowded.
The park however has more limited services than many other provincial parks, with no official visitor center, serviced campsites, or car camping sites. If you intend to camp in the winter, make sure you come prepared and pack accordingly.
For day visitors, there are many trails to explore which range in difficulty. For an easy loop, head to the Mississauga River Loop, a 1.6 km trail following the river. You may also spot beaver dams if you’re lucky.
Cloudy Lake Trail is another popular trail good for all abilities, a 4.7 km in-and-back hike which crosses a small creek.
Kawartha Highlands is a great place for stargazing on cold, clear nights, as it is far from light pollution from nearby cities.
Ice fishing is also popular during the winter, though due to this year’s mild temperatures, be sure to check the ice before you head out as it may not be safe.
If you plan on visiting Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, you’ll need to book a day-use permit, which you can do online or by phone.