Added by Jonathon Reed

Discover a little-known vista in the midst of southern Ontario wilderness.

Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park is an undeveloped park with no maintained public facilities or services. The backcountry campsites are first come, first serve and non-reservable. It features rugged canoe routes through lakes and wetlands, and the wilderness section of the Ganaraska Trail. The locals call it ‘the QE2.’ 

You’ll be following a simple canoe route from Head Lake to Crooked Lake with probably 4-6 hours of paddling, making it a perfect overnight adventure. Leave your car at the gravel parking lot between County Road 45 and Head Lake. There’s a small beach that is vehicle-accessible if you want to drop your canoe off before you park.

The first part of the paddle is reaching the northeast corner of Head Lake. Along the way you’ll view several islands and rocky headlands, before the lake narrows into the Head River. Keep in mind that there’s no camping allowed on islands in Head Lake. Midway between Head Lake and Fishog Lake is a 100 m portage past a small rocky waterfall. 

Fishog Lake is about half the length of Head Lake. Before long, it will narrow into a wetland before reaching a 40 m portage. At the end of that portage, the next 180 m portage is visible across the small lake. There’s one more short portage at the end of Long Lake. This last portage is around an old concrete dam built during the logging days. There are still dozens of floating logs surrounding the dam and launch point—making it relatively difficult to get past. Once you make it free of the logs, there’s a sharp bend to the river, where you should watch for beavers. This is the only place in the world I’ve seen a wild beaver kit.

Enjoy the forest on either side of you. You’re sure to see wildlife and experience the joys of whatever particular season you are in. Before you get to Crooked Lake, the riverbanks will slope up into steep bedrock, making for a very unique paddling experience.

At the centre of Crooked Lake is the pinnacle of this bedrock, an unexpected granite cliff that the locals call Blueberry Hill. There are two campsites south of this cliff and one campsite beyond it. I recommend setting up camp, going for a swim, then climbing up the cliff to watch the sun go down. Southern Ontario doesn’t get much better than this.

This spot is my home, so please follow the principles of Leave No Trace.

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Tags

Canoeing
Chillin
Camping
Photography
Swimming
Beach
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildlife

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