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Dip Trip: Experiences along the Waterway in the Kawarthas

a canoe in lake surrounded by forest

In Peterborough & the Kawarthas, our connections to the surrounding lakes and rivers along the Trent-Severn Waterway run deep.

Bucket List

Paddle through the world’s highest hydraulic lift lock

Have you ever gone for a lengthy paddle and upon docking felt proud of the distance you covered? The feeling after paddling through the World’s Highest Hydraulic Lift Lock is so much better than that!

Rent here:

Stops along the way:

Experience Paddling in Peterborough & the Kawarthas

Portage the backcountry in the largest Ontario Park south of Algonquin 

Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park is the largest park in Ontario, south of Algonquin Provincial Park and has over 100 backcountry campsites spread over six recommended canoe loops.

Most sites have three tent pads, a designated fire ring, picnic table and a privy toilet. Campsites can only be reached by canoe and most require portaging to access; there are no car campsites in the park and it’s designated a radio-free zone.

Not ready to head out into the backcountry on your own? Let The Land Canadian Adventures guide you, it’s sure to be a once in a lifetime experience!

Here’s a park map

people portaging on a path in forest

Kayak 1 of 10 signature paddling routes in the Kawarthas, the birthplace of the modern canoe 

With over 151 lakes we are a paddler’s paradise. This list as suggested by our Insiders Briagh & Bretton is not in any particular order, all routes rock.

True Canadians can Canoe-dle, Canoe? 

The Museum ran a contest looking for your ‘canoelove’ stories, images or videos for a chance to be featured in the exhibition Can I Canoe You Up the River? The Story of Paddling and Romance and to win great prizes. Here’s a look at some of the stories submitted – #CanoeLove

The Canadian Canoe Museum hosts many events throughout the year, some dedicated to #DateNight – check out their calendar of events. 

a picture of 2 people in a canoe

Build Your Own Adventure

Stand Up Paddle Board on Little Lake 

Stand Up. The Adventure isn’t over yet. Get your core in check and give Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Peterborough & the Kawarthas a go. Deciding to give it a try is easy; the hard part is deciding where to go. Rentals are available right at Elmhirst’s resort if you want to stay close to the cottage, or head downtown and give Peterborough SUP (Stand Up Paddle) a try. Both will be sure to provide a view that will be easy to love and difficult to forget!

Get a good night’s sleep in an oTENTik 

Picture an authentic rustic cabin on the water, now cross that image with a tent and there you have a Parks Canada’s oTENTik! It’s a unique way to experience camping, especially for those less enthusiastic about sleeping on the ground!

Here, not only do you get to experience this unique cross accommodation you also get the amazing view of the Historic Trent-Severn Canal.


a yurt with porch in woods

Go spelunking in glacier formed caves 

The Warsaw Caves Conservation Area and Campground (yes, it may sound familiar as it’s home of the disappearing river too – see below) has a series of seven caves, formed thousands of years ago at the end of the last ice age – creating an underground jungle gym!

Be sure to wear closed toed shoes, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and bring a flashlight or headlamp.

A day might not be enough for all the fun to be had here…check out their available campsites for a full weekend adventure!

Take a scenic flight over the Kawarthas 

The winding waterway and rolling drumlins never as breathtakingly beautiful as from an aircraft high above the land. If you’re looking for a unique way to see our vast and diverse area in a weekend this is the way to do it.

If that doesn’t seem adventurous enough, take a scenic glide over Peterborough & the Kawarthas with Aerotrike Aviation.

Try kiteboarding on Rice Lake this summer or winter 

Let’s go fly a kite….on the lake…or the ice – either way it’s sure to be a thrill!

With over 150 lakes to choose from, there is no shortage of aqua to test out your Kite Boarding Skills.

Winter Kiteboarding is a local favourite. Elmhirst’s Resort hosts a Winter Kiteboarding weekend every year in January. The weekend is full of demos, lessons and good times!

someone flying a kite on a frozen lake

Locals Recommend

Follow the disappearing river 

“Now you see it, now you don’t. After flowing wide and swift through the farmland of Peterborough County, the Indian River simply disappears. From its source in Dummer Lake, just south of Stoney Lake, the river meanders southward until, near the village of Warsaw, it enters an area of limestone and vanishes” – Top 100 Unusual Things to See in Ontario by Ron Brown.

Visit Warsaw Caves today!

Pack your rod along with your paddle 

Our region is still the favourite because hands down, we have a unique blend of cool- and warm-water lakes with some of the best fishing in southern Ontario, from panfish to sport fish: large- and small-mouth bass, pike, perch, rock bass and of course, the biggest prize of them all – muskie – and the best eating of them all – pickerel. Try the shallow reedy bays or the deep cold waters on the Canadian Shield. There are more than 150 lakes here. You can drop your line in any of them and try your luck, year round.

Snowshoe or cross-country ski
rugged Canadian Shield terrain 

Petroglyphs Provincial Park. This is a well-signed spectacular park on Northey’s Bay Road, with entrances off of Highway 28 & County Road 6. The surroundings are well-forested with the rugged beauty of the Canadian Shield. While the Petroglyphs themselves are closed in the off-season, park roads and trails can be walked, skied, or snowshoed (please don’t park in front of the entrance gate).

The Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park is the largest wilderness preserve South of Algonquin Park and protects a highly diverse natural area straddling the boundary of two ecoregions. “The Land Between” represents the transition zone between the Canadian Shield to the north and the St. Lawrence Lowlands to the south and is one of the most important zones of biological diversity in Ontario.

kid snowshoeing in forest