Balsam Lake Provincial Park, located in the region of south-central Ontario known as the Kawarthas, is a beautiful waterfront park that offers abundant camping and plenty of opportunities for adventure. The Kawarthas is a section of Ontario known for its lakes, rivers, and waterways. The region is scenic, and it is considered a popular travel destination because the area provides a blend of art and culture with recreation and nature. Almost any type of traveler will find something to do and see while visiting the Kawarthas.
RVers and campers who crave a multifaceted campground will want to stay Balsam Lake Provincial Park. The campground and park operate seasonally, and both areas offer guests the perfect combination of camping, scenic vistas, and outdoor recreation. Campers may choose from rustic camping arrangements in a more isolated section of the campground or a waterfront campsite complete with electrical hookups and plenty of amenities within walking distance. While the campground accepts reservations, it reserves a small percentage of spaces for walk-in camping on a first-come, first-serve basis, so on occasion, last minute campers may be able to snag a camping spot for the weekend.
If you need to dump your tanks or refill your water before setting up your camp, plan to stop just outside of the gatehouse. The dump and fill stations are both located outside of the park’s main gates, and it’s easiest to access the area before you drive into the camping area.
Balsam Lake Provincial Park is located in the town of Kirkfield, and it is 95 miles (154 km) northeast of Toronto and 220 miles (330 km) southwest of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Guests visiting the park must pay a daily vehicle permit fee as well as an overnight camping fee for more than one vehicle. Prices vary depending on the residency and ages of the guests. Fees are payable upon entry.
The campground is located past the gatehouse toward the water. The campground takes up most of the park’s area because it is a multi-looped camping facility that weaves the camping services and recreational amenities together throughout the park. The water fill station and the dump station are located outside of the park’s gatehouse, so be sure to fill or dump before you head to your campsite. Although the park classifies the different camping areas as named campgrounds, the names are for reservation and location only, as the campground encompasses all of the camping areas into one, large campground.
The Balsam Lake Provincial Park Campground is a multi-looped camping facility with eight named camping sections that permit RV and trailer camping. All of the RV camping sites operate seasonally, and all of the RV sites welcome well-behaved, leashed pets. Campers may choose from basic campsites without electricity or electrical sites that have 15 and 30 amp electrical hookups.
All of the camping areas, whether it's an RV and trailer site or a tent site, are constructed on natural surfaces, and all of the sites have a fire pit and a picnic table. To determine which camping section best fits your needs, search which sites will accommodate the size of your RV or trailer. Some of the RV-friendly spaces hold rigs up to 18 feet in length while other sites accommodate larger rigs over 32 feet in length. The campground offers guests many services from vault toilets, drinking water, trash and recycle bins, to comfort stations with showers, flushing toilets, laundry rooms, and a fill and dump station.
Some of the camping areas are close to the water, while other camping sections are nested in quiet, radio-free zones. A radio-free campground is a camping zone that prohibits noise-making activities from radios, television, or other noisy equipment. Camping in a radio-free area encourages rustic camping and a serene atmosphere. If you choose a campsite that doesn’t have electricity and it is not in a radio-free zone, you may operate your generator as long as you adhere to the park’s rule of keeping excessive noise to a minimum.
The Balsam Lake Campground offers alternative camping for guests who prefer a backcountry camping experience that is close to the comforts of modern camping facilities. The Eco-Site camping area is walk-in, tent camping area that is both radio free and pet free. RVs and trailers are not permitted to camp in this section. The campsites are non-electric spaces with a fire pit and a picnic table, and all of the sites are thickly wooded and shaded.
The swimming beach, located near the day use area next to the Elm Campground, is a place where swimmers and beach lovers can spend time outside near the water. The area around the beach has a changing facility, playground, and picnic shelters, as well as a few vault toilets close by. The sand is soft, and the beach is clean, allowing everyone to have a fun and safe time near the water. Speaking of safety, all swimmers should enter the water at their own risk as there are no lifeguards on duty. Bring your swimming gear and sunscreen and have fun at the shore of Balsam Lake.
RVers, campers, and day visitors have the opportunity to take part in park-hosted special events and programming during the summer months. The Natural Heritage Education Programs teach participants about the park’s history as well as about the importance of the conservation and preservation of Canada’s resources. Many of the programs are interpretive and presented in a manner that engages people of differing ages and interests. The hands-on presentations end up being a fun family event for everyone involved! For information on the upcoming events, contact the park.
Balsam Lake is multi-recreational, bringing people of all ages and interests to the water. The large lake permits boats of different sizes, and campers who bring a boat may access the water from the boat launch, located near the day use area and the Elm Campground. If you don’t have a boat, rent a canoe, kayak, or paddle boat from the park. The rental area is located at the south end of the beach. All boat rentals come with a personal flotation device. For rental information, contact the park.
Experienced birders tend to choose birdwatching locations based on landscape and terrain because birds need specific habitats to thrive. Waterfront areas, like Balsam Lake Provincial Park, help to create the ideal habitat for waterbirds and migratory bird species which require a close body of water to survive. Bring your bird guides and your binoculars, and spend your time near the water listening for the call of a loon and watching for birds like Pileated Woodpeckers, hawks, cardinals, bluebirds, osprey, hummingbirds, Northern Orioles, and owls.
If your camping trip isn’t complete without the opportunity to fish, then make your experience whole by staying at Balsam Lake Provincial Park and fishing in Balsam Lake. Bring your boat and launch into the water by using the boat ramp located near the Elm Campground. New and experienced anglers who have patience and the correct bait might catch one of the lake’s resident fish like walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, or muskellunge. If you are new to fishing, inquire about the Learn to Fish Program, a free, hands-on fishing experience designed to teach novice anglers how to fish. Ontario requires fishing licenses, but the rules for permits vary by residency and age. Visit Ontario’s travel and recreation department for fishing information before heading out on the water to ensure you adhere to all fishing rules and regulations.
Hikers visiting Balsam Lake Provincial Park during the offseason will find themselves captivated by fall’s spectacular colors and spring’s blooming foliage. Visiting the park during its transitional seasons not only creates a pure outdoor experience but also it makes the hike seem new again because of the evolving scenery. Hikers have two trails to choose from, both offering scenic views as well as a good workout. The Lookout Trail is a 1.6 mile (2.6 km) path that takes hikers past landscape formed thousands of years ago by glaciers. The Plantation Trail is a 2.6 mile (4.2 km) interpretive walk giving hikers the interaction with nature combined with the area’s pioneer history.