Kawartha Highlands -- Southern Ontario's biggest park

Adventure Lunch: Making lunch at the campsite.Adventure Lunch: Making lunch at the campsite.Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park has become Ontario's largest provincial park operating south of Algonquin Provincial Park

Located 50 km north of Peterborough and two hours northeast of Toronto, the 37,587-hectare park features a rugged rolling landscape of small lakes, wetlands, forests and rocky barrens and is destined to become a favourite with paddlers. It offers 108 backcountry campsites and six recommended canoe routes. Campsite reservations must be made by calling the park office directly. Trip planning assistance is also available -- 613-332-3940, ext. 261. http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/kawa.html

Kawartha Highlands is one of several provincial parks in southern Ontario that offer backcountry experiences. Better known for their car camping sites, Silent Lake, Bon Echo, Grundy and Murphys Point Provincial Parks have paddle-to sites too. Kayakers and canoeists can explore the rocky islands of Silent Lake near Bancroft or paddle further into two connecting lakes. Bon Echo in south central Ontario has 25 paddle-in sites including campsites on Joeperry Lake, which has the added bonus of a sandy beach. Murphys Point, an hour south of Ottawa, offers a 12-km. canoe route across Hogg Bay, Rideau Lake and Loon Lake that includes two portages and is perfect for beginner to intermediate paddlers. At Grundy Lake, north of Parry Sound, you can paddle the route of the Voyageurs along the French and Pickerel Rivers into Georgian Bay.

All four parks provide canoe or kayak rentals or both. Another paddler destination is The Massasauga Provincial Park. It stretches along Georgian Bay from Parry Sound to Moon River taking in hundreds of windswept islands as well as inland forests and lakes. The unique water access-only park has 135 waterfront campsites. Source more information on these parks at http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/locator.html

Anyone who wants to learn to paddle can at Ontario Parks. http://www.parkreports.com/parksblog/?p=1968 and http://www.parkreports.com/parksblog/?p=2062

Parkbus is a non-profit transportation organization that makes it easy for those travelling without a car to reach Algonquin Provincial Park. This year, a weekly bus service from Toronto is offered to the park until September 5. Several Toronto pick up locations are near subway stations and at the park end, stops include some with outfitters that offer everything from canoe and equipment rentals to full packages and guided trips. More information: http://www.parkbus.ca/

Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, Ontario's most popular day-use park, has expanded thanks to the acquisition of 12 adjoining hectares that include dunes, oak-savannah habitat, river shoreline and protection for species at risk. More information on the expansion and on other popular beach-lover destinations is found on this Park Blog post, http://www.parkreports.com/parksblog/?p=2054

To reserve an Ontario Parks campsite or roofed accommodation, log on to http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/reservations.html or call 1-888-ONT-PARK (668-7275)

Information courtesy: Ontario Parks