Kettle Lakes Provincial Park

Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: September 2021

Kettle Lakes Provincial Park is located close to Timmins in Northern Ontario. The landscape in the park was shaped during the last Ice Age. Gigantic ice chunks were left behind by retreating glaciers and buried beneath glacial till, which created a depression, or kettle. The ice eventually melted to form a small deep lake. There are 22 lakes in Kettle Lakes and 20 of them are kettle lakes.

We initially planned to spend two nights at Kettle Lakes, but we ditched our campsite the night before to stay in a hotel in Timmins as it was cold, windy and rainy. We slept in and took our time getting ready in the morning. We arrived at Kettle Lakes just before 11a.m.

After checking into the Park Office to pick up a badge and permit for our campsite, we then went on a couple of hikes, starting with the Oh-Say-Ya-Wah-Kaw Trail (2km loop, rated moderate). The trail is named after the Cree name for “sand ridge” as much of the trail and park is located along an esker. As the ice melted during the last Ice Age, a stream carrying sand and stones flowed through the glacier. The heavier stones dropped to the bottom of the glacial stream while the lighter sand particles settled on top creating this sandy ridge.

The trail loops through the forest and along rolling hills. It also passes by Paxton Lake and Leece Lake. The path is marked with a series of arrows to point you in the right direction and contains a number of interpretive signs that provide more information about how the landscape was shaped during the last Ice Age and the types of flora and fauna that are commonly found in the area.

We then hiked along the Wintergreen Trail (1.5km, rated moderate) since it was located nearby. The trail circles Island Lake and passes through the forest. The ground was nice and sandy, which meant it wasn’t muddy or flooded despite all that rain from the night before.

Afterwards we drove to our campsite to set up our tents. Despite the fact that it was the Labour Day long weekend, the campground was mostly empty. We then walked through the campground and ended up finding a bunch of free firewood that was left behind by the previous campers, which we naturally lugged back to our site.

As we were finishing up our lunch, we heard some thunder in the distance. The sun was still out and it was mostly blue skies ahead so we decided to risk it and go for a short hike. We planned to hike along the Kettle Lakes Trail, but accidentally hiked along the first loop of the bike trail since we weren’t paying too close attention to the signs.

The bike trail consists of three connecting loops that weave through the forest. The path itself was quite lovely as it was flat and wide and loops through a mossy forest of red pine, jack pine and spruce. The best part is that we didn’t even realize that we were on the bike trail until we finished and read the sign and map at the trailhead more closely.

It continued to thunder throughout our hike and it started to lightly sprinkle towards the end. Once we finished, we drove back to our site to close our tent flaps and set up a tarp.

We then headed out to hike along the real Kettle Lake Trail (2km, rated moderate). This trail winds through the forest along an esker and passes a few bogs that occupy some of the kettle depressions. By the time we wrapped up our hike, the skies were dark and the thunder seemed closer. We decided to just drive to the sheltered picnic area to make dinner. This turned out to be an excellent decision as seconds later, it started to pour.

Someone had just finished cooking and eating at the picnic shelter as the coals in the BBQ facilities were still hot. We got the fire going again using some of the kindling and free firewood that we found in the campground earlier in the day. We then used the coals to fry up some burgers. As we were cooking dinner, it continued to rain … hard. The water even started to pool inside the picnic shelter. Thankfully the rain had subsided by the time we finished eating.

We then returned to our campsite to start a fire. Our site was mostly sandy, which meant there were hardly any puddles.

It started to thunder and lightning again around 9p.m, so we figured this was a good sign for us to get ready for bed. Despite the rain, I slept really well. It helped that the campground was mostly empty and we didn’t have any neighbours.

The forecast was calling for showers the next morning. When we woke up it was overcast and the sky was dark, so we quickly packed up. As we were finishing up, it started to lightly rain. Good timing. We drove back to the picnic shelter to make a hot breakfast, which was nice since it was cold, damp and raining. We headed out shortly after 10a.m.


My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

48 thoughts on “Kettle Lakes Provincial Park

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I remember you mentioning before how the landscape in Northern Ontario is similar to that of Michigan. It’s amazing how many kettle lakes there are in this one area. The park was aptly named.

  1. coloradochelsea says:

    It’s too bad about the rain but it looks like it stopped just when you needed it to. I’m always amazed at how similar your geology is to Wisconsin’s, though I suppose you’re not really all that far away!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thankfully we were pretty much done hiking for the day before it started to rain. I’m glad this park had a covered picnic shelter so we were at least able to make food and hang while we waited for the rain to subside. I’ve never been to Wisconsin before, but if the landscape is anything like Northern Ontario, I think I would enjoy visiting!

      • coloradochelsea says:

        Northern Wisconsin has the most similar vegetation, but there are glacial remnants all through the southern part of the state as well! I first thought of Kettle Moraine State Park when I read the title of this post.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I’ve heard that Michigan is very similar to Ontario as well, which makes sense since it’s also located nearby. We’re hoping to start traveling abroad next year, but if this pandemic is still in full force, we might try to go on a big road trip through the US. So who knows, maybe we’ll end up in Wisconsin.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It pretty much rained everyday for the first week of our Northern Ontario road trip. The timing of the rain seemed to work out well for the most part. I’m glad we didn’t get caught in it while hiking and that the park had a covered picnic shelter for us to hang out and stay dry.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The covered picnic shelters are the best and a great place to go to escape the rain. We’ve never made food on one of the shared BBQs before, but we decided to give it a whirl since there were some embers already there. It was much more convenient than dragging our small BBQ out and we didn’t have to clean it afterwards. We were a bit concerned about the flooding within the picnic shelter, but thankfully the ground in the middle near the BBQ facilities wasn’t submerged.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. One of my favourite things about our Ontario Parks Challenge has been learning more about the history of the various parks, including about the early settlers, how the landscape was formed, and the types of plants and trees that can be found in the area.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We weren’t expecting all this rain considering how dry Southern Ontario was this summer. We managed to make the most of it though, even if that meant abandoning our campsite a couple of times to stay in a hotel overnight. I’ve come to appreciate parks that have a sheltered picnic area. It’s a great place to go to escape the rain and it also provides protection from the sun.

  2. carolinehelbig says:

    That’s quite the pooling water in the shelter. You were lucky with your timing and the sandy campsite. Love your sense of adventure and discovering places that are nearly empty on a long weekend.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The pooling of water should give you a pretty good indication of just how much it was raining. It was a bit unsettling to watch it creep closer and closer towards us inside the shelter, but thankfully the area near the BBQ facilities stayed dry. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the parks in this area were mostly empty considering it was the Labour Day long weekend. It was nice to not have to deal with any crowds or noisy neighbours.

  3. wetanddustyroads says:

    It’s great that you have a COVERED picnic area to prepare food … that’s something not easily found here in South Africa. But it seemed, that despite the rainy conditions, you still managed to have a great day out in nature. Glad you didn’t pull the plug on this hike, because it’s really beautiful!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There’s a few parks in Ontario that have a covered picnic area. They are the best as they provide protection from the rain and sun. Surprisingly they aren’t ever busy. Despite the gloomy weather, we had a fabulous time at Kettle Lakes. Thankfully the rain didn’t interfere with any of our hiking or planned activities, so the timing worked out well.

  4. Ab says:

    This park was on our itinerary for the summer Roadtrip that never happened this year. So thank you for the tour. It sounds like you had perfect timing with your hikes and campfire burger meals – with avoiding the rain. I can imagine how soothing it must be to sleep in a tent with the rain going down at the outside. Good thing you had a Sandy site! 😊

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I really enjoyed the parks in the area around Timmins. Even though we had a lot of rain during the first few days of our road trip, much of the ground is sandy so we didn’t have to deal with flooded or muddy trails. The covered picnic area was such a huge bonus and the first time we used the shared BBQ facilities at a park. The timing of the rain worked out well. I’m glad we were able to squeeze a fire in after dinner and before the next storm arrived.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s been neat learning more about the geology in the various parks around Timmins and how the landscape was shaped during the last ice age. There seems to be no shortage of eskers and kettle lakes. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. kagould17 says:

    Ahhhh rain. We have had some good hikes when rain threatened and usually managed to finish before the rain started. On my 3 day back country hike, we always found that rain would start just as we were in full meal prep mode and had no shelter. How did it know? The bike trail looks pretty good, so if you hiked it while nobody biked it, its all good. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The timing of the rain worked out well as we were pretty much finished hiking for the day anyway. Thank goodness the park had a covered picnic area where we could go to escape the rain. This was our first time using the shared BBQ facilities at a park and it was very convenient. The bike trail ended up being my favourite at this park. I’m sure I would have felt differently if we encountered a bunch of bikers though. Thanks for reading. Linda

  6. Bama says:

    Talk about perfect timing! I’m glad you managed to set up for dinner right before it started raining. It’s also interesting to see plants that are different from what I would find in my part of the world — I’m intrigued by the tree with smooth-looking light greyish bark in the 10th photo in this post.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s never fun to set up (or take down) your tent in the rain. The timing worked out well as we had mostly finished hiking for the day anyway. I’m glad the park has a covered picnic area as it was a great place to make dinner and wait out the rain. Surprisingly we had it all to ourselves. The trees with the smooth and light coloured bark are birch trees. They are really pretty and are among my favourite types of trees.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always nice to explore a new park and add another badge to the collection. If it weren’t for spending time outdoors, I probably would have gone crazy during this pandemic. We haven’t made nearly as much progress on our Ontario Parks Challenge these past few months, but looking forward to taking on a new challenge in 2022. Enjoy the rest of your holidays.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Some of the best hiking we’ve done this year was during our Northern Ontario road trip. The landscape looks so different compared to the south and much of the area is covered by the Canadian Shield. There is also an abundance of freshwater lakes, rivers and ponds, which always make for a nice scenic lookout.

  7. ourcrossings says:

    What a beautiful park, Linda! There’s nothing better than a freshly cooked, hot breakfast to set you for the day ahead when you are camping. And I have to say that when you extricate yourself from the digital web and get back to the simplest and most fundamental of things — fire, starlight, rivers, trees, mountains — you’ll find your body and spirit were craving the remedy that is nature. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely day 🙂 Aiva

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Agreed, it’s always nice to start the day with a hot breakfast, especially when it’s damp and cold outside. I sometimes don’t even realize how attached I am to the digital web until I go camping or to the cabin where there’s limited reception. It’s kind of nice to unplug from the world around us. I probably need to do it more often. Enjoy the rest of your week. Linda

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This was our first time using the shared BBQ facilities at a park and it turned out really well. It was nice to have a hot meal given that it was raining and chilly outside. And thankfully we managed to finish our hiking before the rain arrived.

  8. michellecj333 says:

    Looks like you got a patch!! It’s a nice one too!! I love the old stove – and once again it’s a gorgeous park. Sorry for the rain but glad you had the dry change of clothes!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always nice to add another park badge to the collection. I’m not sure what to do with them all, but it’s been fun trying to collect them all. The first week of our road trip wasn’t ideal with all the rain, but it makes you appreciate all the small things like watching a sunset or having a campfire. Either way, we still had a good time and tried to stay positive.

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