Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bon Echo Provincial Park

Bon Echo Provincial Park

Abe's Lake, Site 528 ~ August 2012

Mike & Amanda, Riz & Sabrina.

Great trip. Hilarious arrival by Amanda in business clothes in the dead of night. Almost canceled this from being too stressed out. Really glad I went.

Bon Echo Provincial Park

Joeperry Lake, Site 519 ~ September 2009

Mike & Amanda, Tyner.

Great trip. Hilarious arrival by Amanda in business clothes in the dead of night. Almost canceled this from being too stressed out. Really glad I went.

Bon Echo Provincial Park

Car Camping ~ June 2007

Mike & Amanda, Mike & Karen.

We rented and canoe and explored the park. It really is a beautiful place. Too bad it's soo crowded. We were at Site 333 in the Mazinaw campground.

Hardwood Hills ~ July 2005

Chris & Angie drove down to Kingston and spent a sweltering night in our Queen St. apartment then drove us halfway back to Ottawa to Bon Echo. Amanda read us Oryx and Crake aloud on the drive. Our site was in Hardwood hills which offers fairly secluded tent/car camping, but it's far from any of the lakes.

Bon Echo Provincial Park

Joeperry Lake, Site 520 ~ September 2004

Schmidt, Mike, Tang, and another guy.

My first trip to Bon Echo, totally orchestrated by Schmidt. I don't think we even had a permit. We just snuck some paddles from the paddle shack on Mazinaw lake, grabbed some canoes, and paddled to the island. This late in the season the park was totally deserted. Great trip.


Bon Echo Provincial Park is very beautiful, but is mostly a giant mall of car camping. That's okay because, west of Hwy 41 they have some less crowded sites, and on a semi-attached island on Joeperry lake they have some "back country" sites. I'm told that site 520 is the best. Call 613-336-2228 and press 0 to talk to someone at the park for advice. It's difficult to get through, so you may need to try several times. The people at the 888 reservation number don't know anything about the sites, so you have to decide beforehand. There is a map in the park tabloid, but it's not online. Here's what I've heard:
- site 520 is best (on the island)
- sites 519 and 521 are good (on the island)
- sites 522, 523, 517 are also on the island
- other sites from 501-525 are in that area

Call 1-888-668-7275 to reserve a site (1 english, 2 ready, 2 backcountry)
- note you can't book more than 5 months in advance (i.e. must be april 14 to book for sept 11-13)
- park name: bon echo
- access point: joepery lake
- arrive friday sept 11, depart sunday sept 13
- want site 520 on joeperry lake
- pay reservation fee plus entrance fee for one person (must pay per person fee for additional people at time of arrival)

Maximum party size for interior camping is nine persons per permit. Click Here for firebans.

In the summer of 2009, the park's phone system would tell you to call Bruce White at 613-334-0249 to rent a canoe. I also talked to park staff and they told me the same. After about 10 trys over a month and a half, I called the park again. They said that he no longer takes reservations and has canceled his phone. The deal is that he ensures that there will be more canoes than campers, and just leaves the canoes down at Joeperry. When you register at the park, you can also go to the big rock and pay for one of these canoes, price unknown. They're supposed to be open sat-thu 9-5, fri 9-9. They give you paddles, etc and you just pick up a canoe down at Joeperry lake. If you're in a bind, you could try Smart's Marina, 613-336-2222.

My Advice For Camping On The Island In Joeperry Lake

There's plenty of downed dead wood on the island, if you go back far enough. But since you're in a canoe and the portage is short, why not buy some wood when you checkin. There's no substitute for split wood.

Hang you food, and don't leave anything out ever. In 2009 we didn't see any animals except a few mice. But those mice were brave and determined. I left an unopened tetrapack of red wine on the picnic table over night, and by morning something had gouged little holes in it.

Each site has a picnic table, a fire pit, and a thunderbox out back. I like 520 and 519 the best. Some of the others don't have good tent space. The portage will deter most car campers, but don't kid yourself, this is the easy life and it shows.

After you register, at the gate house just east of the highway, you have to veer north of the gate house and go under the highway on a gravel road. Halfway along this road it suddenly becomes paved, then there is an abandoned gate house with a working pay phone. From this point onwards (and probably earlier too) there is no cellphone reception.

And here's a map of Joeperry lake, and the Bon Echo camp sites. God only knows why they don't post this online.

Joeperry Lake Site Map

Good Information
Joeperry Lake campsites are considered backcountry and can't be viewed or reserved on-line. You'll get a map when you register. During a mid-week visit in August, only 4 of 12 sites were occupied. One thing you should be aware of: the parking lot is about 500m from the put-in and you have to lug all your gear down to the water.
Hike into backcountry sites along the Abes and Essen Trail Canoe to backcountry sites on Joeperry and Pearson Lakes. If you bring your own canoe, an initial portage is required from the parking lot. Rental canoes can be picked up on the lake avoiding the portage. Canoes are available for rent in Cloyne and within the park. Back country campers must register and pay a fee for overnight camping. If you want an extended trip you can launch from the park on the Mississippi Canoe Route (5-6 days, wilderness camping on crown land) which is made up of a system of lakes and rivers and includes over 13 portages.

Great Photos of the backcountry sites.

Semi-Useful Information

Official Site
Map of Car Camping Sites
Trail Descriptions
Map For Sale (can be purchased at MEC)
Great Trails Site (with a map of trails in this area)

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