Balsam Lake Provincial Park
Balsam Lake Provincial Park
By David Richardson
With a couple of free days in July 2011 we decided to take the newest edition of the Trails and Tamaracks fleet to near by Balsam Lake Provincial Park. This new vehicle wasn't really that new at all. It was a 1979 Chevy Camper Van that we named the Bonzo Bus. It ran well and was in great shape but we decided to stay close to home for it's maiden voyage with us.
Balsam Lake is truely a perfect spot for family camping that is still close to the more populated areas of Ontario. In the Kawarthas, just north of the Lindsay area, Balsam offers many activities for the whole family. With two hiking trails, a large maintained beach, several shore accesses for fishing, many roads for biking, a boat launch and canoe rentals it would be hard to get bored in this park.
Upon our arrival and entering the Park Office we found the staff to be very friendly and helpful although their idea of a partially shaded site is slightly different from ours. There are an abundance of shaded and electrical sites available in the park but when we were given a partially shaded site we found one tree that wasn't large enough to shade much of anything. With this small communication error aside we found the staff in the little gift shop to be very friendly and helpful as well.
The two hiking trails are a great stroll for anyone who would be so inclined. The Lookout Trail is 2.5 km long and offers views of cedar forests, native hardwood forests, rolling kame hills and beautiful wildflower meadows. The Plantation Trail is 4.2 km long with an optional shorter 2 km loop. It journeys through pine and spruce plantations and a large boulder called a glacial erratic found it's way here over 10,000 years ago. Take care not to disturbe the wildlife when hiking and don't leave any garbage behind. You should also be aware of any poison ivy growing in the area however there were signs posted about this at the trail heads at the time of our visit.
If you are looking for a place to take the family that isn't too far from home Balsam Lake Provincial Park should definately be considered. Our stay here was very enjoyable and the Bonzo Bus performed well.
By Ontario Parks
Located in the picturesque Kawarthas, Balsam Lake is an all-season recreational park along the Trent-Severn Waterway. In summer, swim at a clean, safe beach, hike to a lookout tower, fish for bass, sail and windsurf. Come in spring for wildflowers and in October for autumn glory.
Balsam Lake has 505 campsites, including 213 with electricity and 6 radio-free Eco (walk-in) campsites. These may be reserved from the second Friday in May through to the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.
Group Camping - At Balsam Lake there are 3 Group Camping Sites serviced with vault privies and drinking water. The use of the site must be requested by completion of the application form.
We will contact you for payment if your application is approved. The following will assist in planning your visit to the park and help us maintain a safe and clean place for all to enjoy.
The site is available to organized non-profit youth groups only.
Alcohol is prohibited.
Tents only! No trailers, tent trailers or R.V.s.
Picnics and Day Use - Yes
Electric Sites - 213 sites with electricity,
Barrier Free Access - Showers, Flush Toilets
Park Store - The Gift Shop located at the entrance to the Lakeshore Campground offers a range park souvenirs. A snack bar is located at the beach. Firewood is available at the Gift Shop and Permit Office
Showers - Yes
Flush Toilets - Yes
Laundromat - Laundry facilities and soap vending machines are available at the three main comfort stations.
Play Area - Yes
Boat Launch - Yes
Canoes, kayaks and pedal boats are available to rent. The Water Craft Rental Centre is located at the south end of the beach. All necessary safety equipment is included. Rentals are available for 1, 4 and 8 hours or overnight.
PFD Loan Service For a $25 refundable deposit, visitors can borrow a properly fitted PFD for themselves and their children. Staff can provide additional information and can outfit visitors with a PFD at the Water Craft Rental Centre.
OFAH TackleShare This program sponsored by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters provides fishing rods, reels and tackle to loan to those who don't have their own equipment.
Lookout Trail - 3km (1.5 hours) easy
This interpretive trail begins on an esker and passes through a number of different landscapes including a cedar swamp, deciduous forest and open meadow. The highlight of the trail is a lookout tower offering a view of Balsam Lake and surrounding countyside
Plantation Trail - 3km (1.5 hours) easy
This interpretive trail explores mans impact on the land over the last 150 years. The trail passes through logging sites, old farm fields and reforestation plantations. The highlight of this trail is a quite moment overlooking a pond filled with wildlife.
Balsam Lake offers excellent fishing for bass, walleye, muskie and panfish. More information on fishing.
Balsam offers excellent shoreline canoeing
The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Deer, fox, raccoon's, skunks, flying squirrels, chipmunks, beaver, lots of birds and even a wandering bear.
Balsam Lake Provincial Park is located at the summit of the Trent Severn Waterway at the north end of a series of lakes and rivers known as the Kawartha Lakes.
Boat launch - Yes - Balsam Lake allows car camping only. The boat dock/launch facility is on a first come, first served basis, and can only accommodate certain size vessels.
Docking facilities - Yes - this facility is for registered campers and day use by vehicle access only.
There is a large sandy beach with a buoyed swimming area with a change-house.
Campground roads and over 10km of safe adjacent township roads
Although the park is closed a parking lot is plowed in the winter. Visitors are welcome to use the park to ski, snowshoe and hike.
For more information:
Balsam Lake Provincial Park