Why Kawartha Lakes Should Be Your Next Paddling Destination


Characterized by picturesque shorelines, dense forests and tranquil waters, Kawartha Lakes, Ontario—located approximately 140 kilometres northeast of Toronto and 344 kilometres southwest of Ottawa—has long attracted outdoor adventurers. Blessed with over 250 serene lakes and meandering rivers that crisscross the region, Kawartha Lakes invites anyone with a passion for the water to explore its laidback communities of Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Coboconk, Fenelon Falls, Kinmount and beyond by paddling along its scenic waterways. Whether you’re seeking half-day family-friendly excursions to experience the charm of these communities or curious about embarking on a multi-day journey that involves hiking and backpacking, the newly curated paddling routes of Kawartha Lakes offer opportunities for diverse wildlife sightings and promise stunning natural vistas and a peaceful escape.

Bretton Clark

Situated where the Sturgeon and Pigeon Lakes meet, the community of Bobcaygeon spans three islands along the Trent-Severn Waterway. Home to rental shops, waterfront accommodations and three boat launches, Bobcaygeon is well-suited for new paddlers. Its newly curated routes along the Big Bob Channel and Little Bob Channel make up the two-to-three-kilometre roundtrip Bobcaygeon Town Route, which invites paddlers to tour the historic sites, restaurants and shopping options from the water. Paddlers seeking tranquility should head to Nogies Creek, less than a 10-minute drive northeast of Bobcaygeon near Highway 36, and explore the small collection of tree-lined islands and wetlands rife with bird activity along the Nogies Creek Route.

Bretton Clark

Connect with the laidback community of Lindsay by paddling along the 2.4-kilometre (one-way) route between Lindsay Memorial Park and Lock 33, which offers direct access to its leafy parks, shops and restaurants. Then spend the day exploring the 272-acre Ken Reid Conservation Area via its network of 12 forested paths that total some 12 kilometres, before launching your canoe or kayak from the Woodland Loop Launch and paddling to McLaren’s Wetland in the southwest corner of Sturgeon Lake. Extend your paddling adventure with a stay at one of the three campgrounds at nearby Emily Provincial Park.

Bretton Clark

Surrounded by idyllic waterways and forests of cedars, hemlock and white pines, the natural landscapes of Coboconk were once a source of inspiration for Group of Seven painter J.E.H. MacDonald. Affectionately nicknamed Coby, this community on the northern tip of Balsam Lake is well-placed for exploring the lake, Indian Point Provincial Park and beyond. Start your paddling journey from the sandy shores of Balsam Lake Provincial Park and visit Indian Point Peninsula (5-kilometre roundtrip) where its alvar topography means birdwatchers will be treated to sightings of threatened and endangered birds like the bobolink and loggerhead shrike. Alternatively, you could glide along the waters on a 10-kilometre roundtrip journey to Grand Island in the centre of Balsam Lake.

Bretton Clark

Dubbed the “Jewel of the Kawarthas,” picture-perfect Fenelon Falls is best known for its namesake waterfall, which reaches seven metres in height and 50 meters in width. Designed with ample opportunity to sightsee and relax at the parks and playgrounds that line each route, the newly curated one-to-two-kilometre roundtrip routes attract families and beginners. Launch your canoe or kayak at Canoe Steps or Colborne Street, and paddle along the Lower Reach of Lock 34 route to watch boats pass through historic Lock 34.

Bretton Clark

Involving hiking, backcountry camping and multiple portages, the curated routes of Kinmount entices moderate and advanced paddlers. Visit the 82,792-acre Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park via the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands (QEII) route, where its rugged terrain, calm inlets and vegetation-rich shorelines make this park a wildlife haven. You could also challenge yourself to the 14-kilometre route from Austin Sawmill Heritage Park to Somerville Centennial Park via the Burnt River to explore the northern reaches of Kawartha Lakes.


This article was sponsored by City of Kawartha Lakes

Jump In to Kawartha Lakes!

In the last 20 years, our communities have matured into Ontario’s second largest single-tier municipality and home to some of the most vibrant downtowns, abundant green spaces and diverse opportunities.

We are made up of several communities, each with its own unique personality and together we offer a network of experiences unlike anywhere else. From the downtowns of Coboconk, Norland, Omemee, Lindsay, Fenelon Falls and Bobcaygeon to our strong agricultural heritage, here in Kawartha Lakes is where urban meets rural.