Bon Echo Provincial Park
Discover Bon Echo Provincial Park, home to such wonders as Mazinaw Lake (the 7th deepest lake in Ontario) and the hundreds of Indigenous pictographs adorning Mazinaw Rock. Spanning 66 sq km, Bon Echo Provincial Park is one of the smaller provincial parks in Ontario, but is packed with thrilling activities and vistas that can amaze even the most experienced adventurer.
Bon Echo Provincial Park is located in southeastern Ontario, just outside the village of Cloyne north of the rural community of Kaladar. It is 280 km away from Toronto.
For up-to-date information and details about Bon Echo Provincial Park, we recommend that you visit their section on the Ontario Parks website. To find out about more places to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see Destination Ontario’s recommendations.
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More about Bon Echo Provincial Park
Named after the astounding acoustical properties of the Mazinaw Rock that bounces sound across Mazinaw Lake, Bon Echo Provincial Park is home to a diverse collection of wildlife, lakes and well-preserved cultural history. ‘Mazinaw’ is the Algonquin word for “picture'' or “writing,” and Mazinaw Rock is a massive 100 metre high cliff on which over 260 red ochre pictographs are clearly visible. Visitors can come and freely observe these ancient pictographs — located at the base of the Mazinaw Rock and spread over 2.5 km — either by canoe, kayak, or on a guided interpretative tour. The pictographs depict a number of stylized human and animal figures, as well as geometric and abstract art. In 1982, it was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.
The Mazinaw Rock also serves as a canvas for another historic piece of wall art. Bookworms and lovers of literature will want to paddle up to the Walt Whitman Monument, a massive stone etching of a Walt Whitman passage, marking the100-year birth anniversary of the famous poet. The etching was commissioned in 1910 by Flora MacDonald Denison, a dedicated Walt Whitman fan and owner of the nearby Bon Echo Inn.
Mazinaw Rock is also home to a number of bird species. Birdwatchers can catch sight of Great Crested Flycatchers, Red-Tailed Hawks, kestrels, Common Loons, Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers and Turkey Vultures flying around Bon Echo Provincial Park’s many lakes, or resting atop the cliffs of Mazinaw Rock. Eagle-eyed birdwatchers may also spot one or two Peregrine Falcons nesting along the cliff face. Known as the fastest animal on the planet, these diminutive birds of prey are a threatened species in Ontario.
Anglers will want to visit Bon Echo Provincial Park’s many interior lakes, where populations of yellow pickerel, smallmouth and largemouth bass, lake whitefish, lake trout, and northern pike are abundant. Although powerboats are only allowed on Mazinaw Lake, visitors can use canoes and kayaks to quietly fish and explore the other lakes in the park. Paddle the park’s many canoe routes, like the 6-hour Kishkebus Canoe Route, which takes visitors past the famous Mazinaw pictographs and towards the still waters of Kishkebus Lake on the park’s east side. Like Kishkebus Lake, some of Bon Echo Park’s lakes are stillwater lakes with glacier-hewn stone bottoms. This makes these stillwater lakes very cold and very clear, though they are almost completely devoid of plant life and fish, save for tiny ones close to shore. These lakes are accessible via several hiking trails and are a great place for visitors looking to spend a few moments in quiet contemplation.
Bon Echo Provincial Park offers various campsites featuring picnic tables, fire pits, storage boxes and privies (restrooms) that suit every visitor, from families with small children to veteran campers who prefer more isolated backcountry camping experiences. Visitors can canoe into the 25 campsites located around Joeperry and Pearson Lakes, for example, or hike the 17-km Abes and Essens Lake trail to access any of Bon Echo Park’s five backcountry campsites. Consisting of three interconnected loop trails, the Abes and Essens Trail offers spectacular panoramic views of clear lakes and surrounding forests and is a favourite of photographers in the fall season.
Expert hikers will enjoy the challenging 1.5-km Cliff Top Trail to access the top of Mazinaw Rock. Taking up to an hour, this trail can only be accessed by water (by ferry service or cane/kayak) but is more than worth anyone’s while for the spectacular views of the Mazinaw Lake from observation decks atop the cliffs.
Visitors looking to take their time can go on hikes along several of Bon Echo Park’s trails. There is the Bon Echo Creek Trail, which takes about 40 minutes for visitors to take a leisurely 1-km stroll around the creek. Explore and observe varieties of pine trees, hemlock, and magical little forest ponds along the 1.7 km High Pines Trail. Admire the rugged landscape of the Canadian Shield along the Shield Trail, which passes through scenic hardwood forests, cedar lowlands, and a beaver swamp. Even pets can join in on the fun! Bon Echo Park has its own Pet Exercise Trail, a 1.4-km trail loop where visitors can unleash their furry friends.
Not yet a seasoned adventurer? Get started by enlisting the help of Friends of Bon Echo Park Organization, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Bon Echo Provincial Park’s natural and cultural heritage. They offer guided interpretive boat tours of Mazinaw Rock and Lake, children’s programs and workshops, amphitheater programs, as well as publish exhaustive trail guides.
Visitors seeking more luxurious creature comforts will find themselves pampered in nearby Mazinaw Residence Inn or the Limerick Lake Lodge and Marina, with cabins equipped with full kitchens. Staying for a week or more? Get to know the village of Cloyne by visiting the Cloyne Pioneer Museum and Archives. Looking for a cute souvenir? Shop for one-of-a-kind quilts, trinkets, and other handicrafts at the Skoot House, a quaint cottage gift shop. Animal lovers will also want to visit the Land o’ Lakes Rescue Petting Farm, with its friendly, eclectic residents consisting of jumping ducks, pot-bellied pigs, goats, miniature and regular-sized horses and a hug-loving turkey.