Bass Lake Provincial Park

Length of stay1 day
January 2021

Bass Lake seems to be a pretty popular choice to name a lake as there are 32 of them in Ontario. The Bass Lake in Bass Lake Provincial Park is located near Orillia and was formed more than 10,000 years ago when waves in Lake Algonquin (which included all of Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior) pushed up a barrier beach along the northern edge of the present-day Bass Lake. As the water level slowly declined, water in the deepest depressions remained, forming Bass Lake and many other lakes in the surrounding area.

The park is situated on 160 acres along the shore of Bass Lake and is a popular destination in the summer. There’s a boat launch, docking facilities, sandy beaches, swimming areas and picnic facilities. There is also a walking trail that follows the shoreline of the lake, through a forest and by the homestead of the Rowe family who settled in the area in the 1830s.

Bass Lake is open year-round. The main gate is closed in the winter, but visitors can access the park through a side entrance located off Line 15. The parking lot is plowed in the winter and there is a self-serve machine here to pay for a day pass.

We arrived at the park shortly after 11a.m and bundled up since it was a bit chilly today (-5°C). The park offers a single trail through the park, the Waterview Trail (4.0km), but we weren’t quite sure where it officially started as there was no map that provides an overview of the park online or at the entrance. We started walking along the snow covered road and saw a sign with a hiker symbol and decided to follow the direction where the arrow was pointing.

The path leads up a ridge and we passed a few numbered signs going in descending order from #15 to #13 for the Waterview Trail, so that seemed promising. But then the path crossed a road and it wasn’t exactly clear which way we should go. We followed the signs for the boat launch as we figured we might as well stop to check out the lake.

Near the boat launch we found another numbered sign (#3) for the Waterview Trail, so we decided to just follow that instead of backtracking. This portion of the path follows a boardwalk for a short stretch before leading back into the forest.

The path then passes the homestead of the Rowe family who settled near the lake in the 1830s. In 1830, seventeen-year old Basil H. Rowe and his two brothers, Charles and Stanhope, arrived in Canada from Devonshire, England. In 1832 they began to build their homestead along the shores of Bass Lake. The Rowe family grew their original homestead into a successful farm, with many buildings. There is only one of the original Rowe buildings left today, the stone milkhouse which was used to store their milk, cream and butter.

The farm stayed in the Rowe family until 1948 when they turned over half of their property to another local family and the other half to the Bass Lake Co-operative who developed it as a recreational area for farmers and their families. Both halves of the farm area eventually became part of Bass Lake Provincial Park.

The path continues through the forest and meets back up with the park road.

We followed the road through part of the campground. During mid-May to mid-October, Bass Lake offers camping at 182 campsites across four different campgrounds with a mix between electrical and non-electrical sites. The sites looked pretty spacious, but I doubt we’d ever return to camp here given its close proximity to Toronto.

We followed the road back to the secondary parking lot and passed the swimming area and picnic shelters along the way. We wrapped up our hike just after 12p.m and hopped back in the car to warm-up. From here we planned to drive to McRae Point Provincial Park for a double (park) header.


My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

32 thoughts on “Bass Lake Provincial Park

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The snow has such a way of making the forest look so magical. I’ve come to enjoy the snow a lot more now that I’ve been working from home because of the pandemic and don’t have to commute in it. The winter can be cold, but the snow makes it all worthwhile. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  1. Ab says:

    I was going to say I’ve been to Bass Lake before too but I don’t remember which one! Haha. Looks like a nice day trip and the stone farmhouse looks nice. They don’t make homes like that anymore.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s a relatively small park, but it was nice to visit in the winter when the campground is empty and you have the roads to walk along to extend your hike. Agreed, it’s too bad they don’t make stone houses like that old farmhouse anymore. I would love to live in a historic building, like an old school or church. Those are hard to come by these days, along with any decent home it seems. We’re actually putting an offer on a house today. Fingers crossed.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We don’t get out much these days now that it’s winter and we’ve been working from home, so we try to make an effort to explore a new park every weekend to get some fresh air and exercise. It was a nice area to stretch our legs and enjoy the snow.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Ha, probably not. It’s been nice visiting a few of the parks during the winter because the trails are usually empty and there are no bugs. Plus it’s been a good way to get some fresh air. Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s been neat to learn more about how certain parks were created and the history of the area. I’m glad one of the historic buildings from the Rowe family is still around and we could peak inside. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. kagould17 says:

    Looks like a fair bit of snow for this close to Toronto. Good hiking with a bit of history. Had to laugh about the Bass Lake story. Meet you at Bass Lake could be a challenge with 32 similarly name lakes. Thanks for sharing and stay well. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There are so many lakes in Ontario and I guess they ran out of names (and creativity). We’ve received a decent amount of snow over the past month, which has been great. Most of it has melted this week as temperatures are now above freezing. Saturday it’s supposed to go up to 7C and be rainy. I’d take the snow over the rain any day.

  3. carolinehelbig says:

    This park looks amazingly peaceful (at least in winter) given how close it is to the city. I enjoyed reading your fun facts about the name of the lake and the incredible way it was formed. Wouldn’t it be cool traveling back in time (temporarily) to when the Rowe’s built their homestead along the lake!?

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The only reason I looked up the name of Bass Lake was because I’ve been to another Bass Lake before and got a bit confused. Well, turns out there’s quite a few of them. We’ve been trying to prioritize visiting parks close to the GTA during the winter to get those out of the way before the crowds take over. I’m sure this place is just insane during the summer. And yes, it would be cool to see what the park looked like through the eyes of the early settlers. I’m sure it would have looked completely different.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s incredible how durable (and beautiful) stone houses are. It’s too bad they don’t make them like that anymore. I didn’t realize how many Ontario parks used to be former farms either. I’m glad that they’ve preserved some of these former homesteads and it’s always neat to see remnants of the old buildings.

  4. ourcrossings says:

    Yet another beautiful hike and I just love those winter photos. Though the days are the shortest in the winter time, they are still filled with natural wonder. And if you are willing to brave the cold, you’ll be rewarded with rather spectacular show of a glimmering blankets of snow and long shadows. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely day. Aiva 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Winter has its obvious drawbacks, like the cold and shorter days, but the snow can make the landscape look so beautiful and pristine. It also helps that there are less people around, which has been great these days as we’re still under lockdown. As the weather starts to warm, I imagine parks like these are going to become crowded, so we’re tryin to make the most of the off season while we can. Thanks for reading. Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks. We’ve been making pretty good progress so far with our challenge considering it’s winter. We figure we might as well get as much hiking in as we can before the mosquitoes and crowds take over (don’t know which is worse) in the spring!

  5. Diana says:

    32 Bass Lakes 😂 There are some duplicates like that in Colorado as well. I think we have 8 Lost Lakes and multiple Blue Lakes too… although not 32 of them!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s been fun visiting some of these smaller parks in the winter and not having to deal with the crowds when the weather is nice. The snow makes everything look more scenic. Good to know we’re not the only ones who have overused the name Bass Lake. Ha. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  6. Oh, the Places We See says:

    I’m still impressed yet shocked at all this hiking in the snow! You’re brave and hardy. But I can totally understand why you would do it. Your pictures are dreamy, and walking in all that quiet has got to be a high.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks. We only really started getting into winter hiking this past year because of the pandemic. Turns out it’s not so bad. The trails are usually empty, there are no bugs, and the snow really has a way of transforming the landscape.

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