From the first moment I saw the 330-foot tall Mazinaw Rock, I only wanted to get closer. Every time I saw boaters and paddlers along the cliff face, it only made me long for our time on the water.
We spent much of our first days at Bon Echo Provincial Park exploring the trails, so cruising and kayaking were being saved to give our legs breaks while at the Park.
The Visitor Center
Before heading on your cruise or kayak, make sure to explore the displays dedicated to interpreting the pictographs on Mazinaw Rock and a replica of one of the paintings.
You’ll also find numerous photos with information explaining what they are believed to represent and the meaning of the spiritual dreams painted on the rocks.
Greystones Gift & Book Shop
We purchased our tickets at Greystones for both the Wanderer Boat Tour and the Mugwump Ferry ride to the Cliff Top trailhead.
Friends of Bon Echo runs the store and gift shop – all proceeds go right back into the park!
Wanderer Boat Tour
45-minute interpretive tour
The boat tour cruised along the shoreline while the guide spoke about Bon Echo Provincial Park’s history.
We saw the Visitor Centre, Greystones, Cabin on the Hill and a few campsites from the water. The tour boat coasted past rocky outcrops, kayakers, and campers out for a swim before crossing Mazinaw Lake to the cliffs.
During the return alongside Mazinaw Rock, our tour guide taught us about this region’s natural and indigenous history, stopping beside the cliffs when it was safe to have a closer look at the rock formations and pictographs.
Of the many incredible rock formations we marvelled at, Turtle Head really stood out – it’s easy to see where its name came from!
There were some small and ancient trees whose roots are clinging to life on the bare cliffs.
As we gazed up at the rockface, we caught sight of rock climbers on the cliff face and hikers waving from the viewing platforms along the Cliff Top Trail – those little people really gave perspective on how big Mazinaw Rock really was is.
Paddling on Mazinaw Lake
With options to launch your own boat, watercraft or rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboat from Bon Echo Outfitters at the lagoon, it’s easy for anyone to explore Upper and Lower Mazinaw Lake.
When we paddled through the Narrows channel toward Upper Mazinaw Lake, we encountered big waves and heavy chop caused by the lake’s deep waters rising to the shallow Narrows. Water was constantly cresting over the kayak and soaking me – so thankful my camera was safe in a diving case!
Two hundred and sixty pictographs have been painted the rockface. You might not be able to spot them all, but you can certainly take the time to appreciate the ones you can find when your paddling on the lake, instead of the limited time available on a boat tour.
If you’re looking for an extra challenge, try the Kishkebus Canoe Route (1.5 km portage and 21 km paddling loop, moderate to difficult) around the rock to the nature reserve on the east side.
Other paddlers report that this is an all-day adventure, taking on average seven hours, so make sure you set off early! Also, depending on the time of year – and beaver activity – there may be unmapped portages to navigate low waters and dams.
Sunset on Mazinaw Rock
We returned to the Narrows to watch a natural wonder unfold. As the sun’s rays touch the granite, its colour saturation increased until the rock is glowing golden before it fading into darkness.
I watched canoers paddle into the dying light for a unique perspective on Mazinaw Rock – I instantly wished I was on the water as well! Perhaps next time!
Not only does Bon Echo Provincial Park have a plethora of activities for day-trippers, but there are also many options for overnight adventures!
From Hiking to Paddling, easy access to backcountry Camping, plus Glamping options from cabins to yurts, Bon Echo has it all.
With such a variety, you’ll be able to find the right site for your level of comfort and exploration goals!
📍 Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario.
🌲 Traditional Lands of the Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ, and, Omàmìwininìwag (Algonquin).
More Bon Echo Adventures
#notsponsored – In 2019, Mike and I travelled for Lennox & Addington and created a two-part series, “Can You Hear the Bon Echo?” and “Can You Hear the Bon Echo? Chapter 2” experience blog. I shot hundreds of photos over the course of our three days exploring Bon Echo Provincial Park, many of which didn’t appear in the blogs, and I wanted to share the images with you!