bon echo provincial park

Bon Echo Provincial Park in Ontario is filled with hundreds of Indigenous pictographs

Bon Echo Provincial Park is a majestic place and certainly one of the prettiest spots to pitch a tent less than four hours away from Toronto.

The abundant natural beauty of the surrounding park aside, Mazinaw Rock is really what sets Bon Echo apart from the rest. Standing 100 metres (330 feet) tall and jutting into the peaceful Mazinaw Lake, there are more than 260 Indigenous paintings along the base of the cliff. 

This makes for one of the largest visible pictograph collections in all of the country and the only major site in southern Ontario. 

Spread out over 65 rock faces along a 2.5-kilometre stretch just above the surface of the second deepest lake in the province, a canoe or kayak has to be the best way to see the images up close. 

Amp it up a notch and try the 21-kilometre canoe route and portage journey that takes you past the pictographs and to the nature reserve on the east side of the park. 

Once you've paddled by it, try hiking to the top for another worthwhile view. The 1.5-kilometre cliff top trail will get you to the designated viewing areas atop Mazinaw Rock overlooking the lake. 

The trail is accessible only by water, so you'll need to either paddle to the trailhead or take a ferry before setting off on foot. 

There are five other trails ranging in length from one to 17 kilometres. As well as three natural sand beaches, with a good view of the mighty rock across the water from the shores at the main beach. 

For those looking to spend a few nights, a high number of accessible car and RV campsites, as well as more secluded walk-in sites, are scattered throughout the park. 

If you plan on visiting and exploring Bon Echo Provincial Park, make sure to practice safe physical distancing and pick up after yourself to leave the area as beautiful as you found it.

Feeling inspired to discover more ancient markings? Consider visiting the country's largest and oldest collection of petroglyphs (which are carved instead of painted) at Petroglyphs Provincial Park. Or make a longer trip out to Agawa Rock at Lake Superior. 

Lead photo by Ariana Kaminski

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