Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: 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