The Best Backcountry Campsites in Ontario


Ontario is known for its stunning natural beauty, and what better way to experience it than by backcountry camping? From the rugged terrain to pristine lakeshores, there are several national and provincial parks scattered throughout the province that offer unique and memorable backcountry camping experiences. For those looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, consider venturing out to these Ontario parks for a backcountry trip.


Bruce Peninsula National Park

Evan Skjel 

Nestled between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron rests the Bruce Peninsula National Park. This park boasts limestone cliffs, turquoise waters, ancient cedars and hidden sea caves. The park’s most notable feature is the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve that runs through the park and offers stunning views of the crystal-clear waters of Georgian Bay.

This park’s technical trails and Caribbean-like waters make for a unique hiking experience. Backcountry camping is available at the Stormhaven and High Dump camping zones, which are accessible by hiking along the Bruce Trail. Both zones are located on the shores of Georgian Bay and include excellent composting toilets, tent platforms and poles for setting up bear hangs.

Reservations for camping at Stormhaven and High Dump can be made through the Parks Canada website.

Distance from Toronto: 4-hour drive (289 km)


Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Daniel Lafontaine 

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is home to the iconic Northwestern Ontario landmark that towers 1,000 feet above the surface of Lake Superior—The Sleeping Giant. Located on the Sibley Peninsula, the formation of volcanic rock jutting out from the lake looks like a stone figure sleeping on its back.

With over 100 kilometres of hiking trails that weave throughout the park, hikers can expect breathtaking views of Lake Superior from the many lake access points or from the top of Sleeping Giant’s granite cliffs. The park has 27 backcountry campsites, which are divided into seven zones. Most of the backcountry sites are located on beautiful sand beaches with sites featuring metal fire pits, thunderboxes and bear-proof lockers.

Reservations for Sleeping Giant’s backcountry camping can be made through the Ontario Parks website.

Distance from Toronto: 15-hour drive (1370 km)


Lake Superior Provincial Park

Lake Superior Provincial Park is located along the northeastern shores of Lake Superior. With its 150 kilometres of maintained canoe routes and 130 kilometres of hiking trails, the park is home to world-class hiking and paddling along the Lake Superior shoreline. The popular 65-kilometre Lake Superior Coastal Trail is also located within the park, stretching across the park’s coastline and clinging to cobble beaches, rocky headlands and dense boreal forests.

The park’s 163 backcountry campsites are divided into 76 zones. All zones provide access to box privies, while some have designated metal firepits, picnic tables and food lockers.

Hiking and paddling zone-specific reservations are available online and up to five months in advance of arrival on the Ontario Parks website. 

Distance from Toronto: 9-hour drive (886 km)


Killarney Provincial Park

Reid Burrows 

Killarney Provincial Park is located on the northern shore of Georgian Bay and boasts of some of Ontario’s most impressive scenery. Its 645-square kilometre wilderness showcases white quartzite ridges, sparkling lakes and technical trails.

The sapphire lakes surrounded by the La Cloche Mountains welcome both experienced and first-time paddlers with its 50 interconnected lakes leading to 184 campsites. Meanwhile, hikers can find 34 backcountry campsites scattered along the 78-kilometre La Cloche Silhouette Trail—one of Ontario’s most difficult but breathtaking hikes.

Paddling and hiking reservations are available online and up to five months in advance of arrival on the Ontario Parks website.

Distance from Toronto: 4.5-hour drive (419 km)


Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park

Kendra Slagter 

Just north of Peterborough and in the heart of Ontario’s cottage country lies Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park. As one of southern Ontario’s largest parks, it offers a mix of hiking and paddling opportunities. The park’s 100 backcountry sites are accessible only by canoe or kayak.

As paddlers navigate through the park’s serene waters, they will have the opportunity to witness the beauty of the Canadian Shield with its rugged landscape, granite outcroppings and sparkling lakes. The backcountry campsites are nestled amongst the trees and on quiet lakes, making it the ideal location to spot moose, beavers, loons and other wildlife. Each campsite is equipped with fire pits, picnic tables and pit toilets.

Reservations for the park can be up to five months in advance through the Ontario Parks website.

Distance from Toronto: 2.5-hour drive (209 km)


Pukaskwa National Park

Steven Veldt 

Located in northern Ontario, Pukaskwa National Park is Ontario’s only wilderness national park. Windswept spruce and pine trees stand tall atop towering cliffs and along secluded beaches, while black bears, moose and other wildlife make their home along the coast.

Visitors can either hike the notoriously rugged and challenging 60-kilometre Coastal Hiking Trail or paddle 135 kilometres along the shoreline of the park’s most remote region. The park’s hike-in sites include fire pits, food lockers and privy toilets, whereas the paddle-in sites are primitive and do not offer these features.

Reservations for the park can be made through the Parks Canada website.

Distance from Toronto: 12-hour drive (1,110 km)


Georgian Bay Islands National Park

Project Love Local

Georgian Bay Islands National Park is located on the southeastern coast of Georgian Bay. The park features 63 islands, which are part of a larger collection of 30,000 islands scattered across the entire bay. The park’s old maple and pine forests paired with the granite outcroppings make for a true Ontario backcountry experience.

The largest island within the park is the Beausoleil Island, where the park’s seven campgrounds are located. Campers must catch the ferry, hire a water taxi or use their own personal vessel to reach the island. These waterfront sites include composting toilets, picnic tables, shared wood stoves for cooking, food storage lockers, fire pits and tent platforms.

Reservations for Georgian Bay Islands National Park can be made online through the Parks Canada website.

Distance from Toronto: 2-hour drive (181 km)


Algonquin Provincial Park

Audley Travel 

Algonquin Provincial Park is located in southeastern Ontario and is the province’s oldest provincial park. Old logging deposits, old growth pine, abandoned homesteads, world class trout fishing and breathtaking landscapes have come to define this park.

Algonquin’s main allure is its paddling opportunities, as it offers over 2,000 kilometres of canoe routes that connect 2,400 lakes. Though the extensive paddling is what the park is known for, there are also three backpacking trails that offer visitors the chance to explore Algonquin on foot. Together, they offer over 1,900 campsites for visitors to choose from. Most backcountry sites feature a fire pit, box privy and a flat tent space.

Reservations for the park can be up to five months in advance through the Ontario Parks website. 

Distance from Toronto: 3-hour drive (280 km)


Whether you’re an experienced backcountry camper or a novice hiker, Ontario’s parks offer backcountry experiences for all skill and comfort levels. From the rugged landscapes of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park to the crystal-clear waters of the Bruce Peninsula National Park, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the beauty of Ontario’s great outdoors. So, grab your gear, pack your bags, and head out to one of Ontario’s many national and provincial parks for a truly unforgettable adventure. 


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