Take the helm and command the waters of the many lakes and rivers of Ontario’s Highlands from a boat. Boating is a fun activity that most anyone can enjoy. If you’ve never steered a boat before, there are many mariners and boat rental outfitters that can get you started with a watercraft appropriate for what you’re looking for in a boating experience.
Boating is also a launching point for many other water-centric activities and sports including fishing, waterskiing, tubing, and swimming. Out on the water, you can make your boating trip as exciting and full of adventure or as peaceful and laidback as you desire.
Boating Spots in Ontario’s Highlands
With close to 1,000 lakes throughout Ontario’s Highlands plus numerous river systems and the famous Rideau Heritage Route, you can quickly get out on the water to enjoy your boating experience. We’ve put together a list of popular boating spots you may want to try. When in doubt, ask your hotel accommodations or someone who lives in the area for a recommendation – it’s a great way to discover some of the best spots to explore!
Rideau Heritage Route
By power of sail, motor, or a paddle, the Rideau Heritage Route is an amazing boating destination made up of a chain of beautiful lakes running 202 kilometres from Lake Ontario in Kingston to the Ottawa River in Ottawa.
|Baptiste Lake – A 2,226 hectare lake located in Bancroft that is part of a lake chain with Benoir and Elephant Lakes|
|Belmont Lake – Approximately 6 kilometres long and 1.5 kilometres wide, this lake’s maximum depth is 51 feet|
|Big Rideau Lake|
|Bull Lake – Located on the Salmon River system, the lake is nearby the community of Elm Tree|
|Crotch Lake – One of the largest and most accessible lakes in the North Frontenac Parklands|
|Elephant Lake – Located in Harcourt, Elephant Lake is part of a 36-mile chain of lakes also including Benoir and Baptise Lakes|
|Hungry Lake – Located at the headwaters of the Salmon River|
|Kashwakamak Lake – A long and relatively narrow lake running east-west with 19 campsites available for rent plus backcountry campsites along the north shore|
|Kennebec Lake – Located in Central Frontenac off highway, Kennebec Lake is approximately 20 kilometres west of Sharbot Lake|
|Lake Clear – This lake is approximately 6 kilometres long and there are about 18 islands in the lake|
|Limerick Lake – There are accommodations for rent, a marina, and general store that make planning a fishing trip from this location convenient and easy|
|Lower Rideau Lake|
|Marble Lake – This smaller sized, motor free lake is excellent for fishing|
|Mazinaw Lake – Located in the Addington Highlands just north of Kaladar|
|Mississagagon Lake – A four season cottage resort located in the Land O’Lakes region|
|Paudash Lake – The Paudash Lake Marina offers rental boats, tubes, skis, wakeboards, and kneeboards|
|Skootamatta Lake – Located in Addington Highlands at the head of the Skootamatta River, Skootamatta Lake is located just south of Bon Echo Provincial Park|
|Sharbot Lake – An excellent destination for outdoor recreation including fishing, boating, canoeing, and swimming|
|Bonnechere River – Connects Bonnechere Provincial Park to the shores of Renfrew County’s Round Lake|
|Madawaska River – Approximately 230 kilometres long, the Madawaska River is a fierce river that drops 224 metres where it joins the Ottawa River in Arnprior and is popular among river rapid enthusiasts|
|Ottawa River – This famous river was popular among the Algonquin First Nations and first French explorers who used to travel its 1,211 kilometres|
|Rideau River – You’ll find sandy beaches and fishing along this river|
|Tay River – A magnificent tributary of the Rideau River system in eastern Ontario|
|Tay/Rideau Canal – From the Rideau Canal, the Tay Canal winds up the Tay River and through the Tay Marsh on its way to Perth|
The type of activities you would like to enjoy from your boat as well as how many people you are bringing with you can help determine the size and kind of boat you should get. In general, the larger the boat, the more people you can have onboard. If you are fishing or swimming from the side of the boat, you don’t need a very powerful watercraft. But if you want to pull a waterskier or wakeboarder behind you, more power will be required.
Often boating is simply a starting point for enjoying other water-related activities. You wouldn’t get very far on water skis if you didn’t have a boat to pull you along. Finding the perfect fishing spot is quite often dependent on having a boat. And depending on the type of boat you rent or purchase, you can even spend the night onboard and take an extended vacation out on the lake.
Many bonding moments between friends and family have taken place on a boat. To be safe, make sure guests wear non-skid deck shoes and a life jacket. With kids, you might want to go over the rules of the water before embarking on your adventure.
Not sure where to start on boating safety? Never towed a boat before or used a boat launch access ramp? Here are some helpful resources to get you started.
|CPSECP’s Boating Tips Channel|
|Boating with pets, Discover Boating – Some key points for safe boating with your pets|
|Types of lifejackets (PFDs) – Video – Tips on types of lifejackets that are available and the differences between each|
Boaters are required to obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Luckily, there is an introductory course that prepares you for boating and earns you the card, too. Learn more about the Pleasure Craft Operator Card and courses before planning your boating trip.
You can also take an online exam, access the study guide, and find exam locations for the Pleasure Craft Operator Card at the BOATsmart! website.
In general, boats and recreational vehicles under 15 gross tons that are powered by an engine of 10 horsepower or more need to be licensed or registered. Visit the Discover Boating website for more information.
Ontario’s Highlands features a variety of marinas and lodges to help you plan your boating vacation. Many lodges and resorts are lakefront and offer varying amenities from dining options to Jacuzzi tubs to fireplace suites.
|Oakview Lodge and Marina – A country inn offering bed and breakfast accommodation and couples getaway packages|
|Buttermilk Falls Resort – Waterfront Haliburton Ontario cottage rentals with sand beach, fishing, canoeing, hiking, snowmobile, and ATV trails|
|Lakeview Lodge – Located at Baptise Lake in Bancroft|
|Calabogie Lodge Resort – A four-season resort surrounded by rolling hills situated on the shores of Calabogie Lake|
|Smart’s Marina – Everything you need to enjoy your day out on the water, including fishing and pontoon boats, boat rentals, and motor sales|
|Limerick Lake Lodge and Marina – A unique year-round getaway location only three hours from either Ottawa or Toronto|
|Halimar Resort – Offers full service lakefront cottage and vacation accommodation with fireplace, Jacuzzi suites, sand beach pool, and dining room facilities suitable for family vacations|
|Haliburton Heights Resort – Resort features sandy beaches along the lake, hiking, cross-country ski trails, and more|
|Wigamog Resort Conference Centre and Spa – A year-round, waterfront resort situated on 42 acres overlooking Lake Kashagawigamog in the Haliburton Highlands|
|Algonquin’s Edge Resort – Located on the beautiful sandy shores of the famous Madwaska River|
|Chris’s Live Bait – Get ready for your boating trip and pick up tackle, bait, and other fishing supplies|
|Miner’s Bay Lodge Ltd – A family-oriented summer resort in Haliburton|
|Pineridge Resort – Located on Fifth Depot Lake, come and enjoy a relaxing family vacation|
|White Lake Marina – A full service marina offering sales and service of boats, motors, and related products|
|Calabogie Peaks boat rentals – Full service boat rental, docking, and fishing supply centre on beautiful Calabogie Lake|