Review Date: JULY 2013
General Information / Location
Bon Echo Provincial Park is located just south east of Algonquin Park. You are camping beside Mazinaw Lake, one of the deepest lakes in Ontario.
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I really enjoy the drive up to this park. It’s on a 2 lane “highway”, running through the hills and the lakes. Beautiful! The park is right off highway 41, on the east side. The park is split into 4 areas. 2 of them, Mazinaw and Hardwood are car camping sites, and the other 2 are back country sites. I’ll really only talk about Mazinaw here, as that’s where I camped. Mazinaw is split into 3 different sections. I didn’t make my way over to 2 of the sections, so I’ll just talk about Sawmill Bay campsites. Each section inside Mazinaw does have 1 comfort station, and vault toilets spread around. There are also 2 beaches here, both located near Mazinaw.
The great thing about this park is obviously the large cliff right across the water. It’s great to sit on the beach, or a bench, and enjoy the view! It really is breath taking, and a great reason to come to the park.
Sawmill campsites, sites 103 and above, are the closest to the large cliff. I suggest getting a site there, as it’s a quick walk to the water, and the views. The sites a slightly more flat when you’re in the 103+ mark. The privacy of these sites aren’t amazing. Actually they are quite poor. Another thing I noticed is alot of the sites are NOT flat. They ither have lots of rocks in them, or are on a hill. Here’s a good example of one of the sites. Not a flat spot anywhere!
Just make sure you check the SLOPE level on the ontarioparks website.
Also, sites 51 to 98, the ones on the loop, have a HUGE hill you have to drive over to get to them. I’m not sure I’d take my truck and trailer up, or down these hills. Really steep! They really shoehorn you into this area. I wouldn’t go elsewhere.
I believe their is only 1 comfort station in all of Sawmill. It’s fairly close to come campsites, and far from others. Their are vault toilets you can go to as well. The main comfort station is fairly busy. I would avoiding campsites around the station, especially the ones directly beside it.
As I said above, their are 2 beaches here. I would stay on the beach closest to Sawmill, as it has the view of the rock, and the other doesn’t. It’s your typical “beach” in the muskokas. I think they are roped off. There is also a pet beach near the yurts.
There are some hiking trails, but nothing that really stands out. One of the trails follows the river, and the other through the bush behind sawmills campsites. You can take the ferry across the lake, and do the trail up to the top of the cliff. I’ve heard this is a great view! Note – Fairly takes cash only, and no dogs allowed. I’ve also heard of people renting canoes, and going right up to the rock cliff, and read the hieroglyphics. We didn’t do this, as we didn’t have any cash on us, but I hear it’s great!
According to the Bon Echo magazine, one of the “Top 5 Things To Do At Bon-Echo” is go and see Joe Perry Lake. MEH! Don’t bother. It’s a long drive out there, and a short walk only to see a lake. A Lake. Nothing special about it. Now if you rent a canoe, it might be a neat lake to paddle around.
One thing I suggest is driving, then walking to the narrows. You get the closest view of the rock cliff. It’s pretty neat!
It’s a neat park, and definitely a busy one. My one issue with this park is the lack of privacy in the sites, and the slope on alot of sites is quite aggressive for trailers. However, it’s still worth coming here, just to see the rock face, and take a swim in a great lake.
We didn’t get bothered by park officers at all. I don’t think I saw 1 drive around the whole weekend.
– Site 135 is really sloped, and hard to put trailer on
– Site 145 has alot of roots on it, but flat
-146 is flat
-145 and 146 are decent, not a lot of privacy
-147 is flat good for trailer, decent privacy
– None of the above are really good, but best you can get here
– Site 158 you park on a hill, and drive into campsite
– Stay away from 159, no flat spot, no parking
-160 is really good tent site. Step up to site. On a big rock. Almost see water
-161 pretty good site, not sure about with a trailer tho, tent site
-There are ALOT of hills here, 162 no privacy, but big site, same with 163 (no privacy), but flat
-104, 103, 102 is on a busy road, stay away from sites on main road
-101, 100 not good, on main road
-The following are cramped together, no privacy, 98, 96, 95, 97, 94 (and right by bathroom)
-After site 94, there is a huge hill going up, not sure i’d take my trailer up it, with low lined branches
-Site 93 and 92 are flat, at top of hill tho
– Site 91, 90, flat, but nothing special
– stay away from 89, no space, and up on hill
– 85 , 84, no privacy, and right on road, 83, 82, 81, 80
– 77 is flat, and 76, not much privacy
– 73 is good, can’t see into site
– 71 is decent, and site 70, but it’s near bathroom, so meh
– Site 69 is decent, not much privacy from behind, but privacy from road, But to get to above sites, you are going up LARGE hills
– 68 is fairly privacy, good tent site
– 67 small but good
– 65 is ok for tent site
60,61 is not really good. alot of sites over look it
55,56,57,58,59 aren’t private
53,54 are more private sites. And right ontop of the hill.
22 really nice site. best in park for privacy, back onto hill
23 is a good site. good trailer site.
25 is a good site.
24,26 stay away from
29 is a good site privacy wise.
33 is decent, but near the main gates. you can see the main gates and the cars drive by
40 is ok if you had to book it
12 is fairly private. but small
Sites 105 and 106, 107 are great sites, but the road behind it can see right into your site. The road behind it is a busy road
131, 134 stay away from.
135 is a decent site. fairly private. not sure how far the road is behind you
137 is a good tent site. fairly private. view of the water and rock. but theres a path right behind you, actually right on the campsite. you can walk right down to water
138 is fairly good.
139 is a good site. nice site. their is alot of elevation, and slope. walk right down to water
140 is a nice site. not too much privacy from behind. really large. you can also walk down to the water
141, 142, 113, 111, 109 no
115 is pretty good.
117 stay away from
116 would be hard to do trailer. you could make it work. it’s a nice site. rock and water view. park trailer at top, lots of room down in site. Big site
119 is ok. flat site. 2 entrances, not much privacy
121 right on water, problem is you don’t have much room to park trailer. there is a path to park trailer
122 is a nice site. trailer might be kinda awkward parking it.
– Obviously the large cliff. It’s really cool to see.
– There are some sites with great views of the lake / cliff. As well, some sites fairly close to the water.
– It seemed to be a clean, well run park.
– Hilly. Only a few of the sites are flat.
Surrounding Area Activities
I think it’s worth coming here, once, maybe twice. The views, the lakes, are all great. Come here just to check it out! I just didn’t get a sense of privacy here. To me, it just seems like a touristy type of park. Come once to see the sights, and move on.