Confession time. You drive by a location a hundred times since at least 1990. In 2014, we move and this place is less than 30 minutes from our house. I’ve uttered to Lynn more than once, “Gee, one day we’ll have to check out Six Mile Lake Provincial Park.”
Well, we finally did and we’re glad we took the time and checked it out for a couple of hours on the afternoon of Good Friday.
Six Mile Lake Provincial Park is located less than 2 hours north of Toronto with convenient access to and from Highway 400 via the White Fall’s Road exit.
It’s a very popular car camping destination offering six campground locations through the park in a variety of settings.
The afternoon of Good Friday arrived sunny and cool. With a turkey cooking away in the oven filling the house with a delicious holiday aroma, we grabbed Katie and headed off to hike around the park for the afternoon.
We’ve been out on a number of adventures since New Years and with the mild temperatures we’ve experienced at times over the past three months, many of the backcountry trails we’ve hiked have been icy. I mean VERY ICY. In fact, ice covered.
Like most outdoor enthusiasts, we prefer being in the backcountry away from the hustle and bustle so to speak. Not that this is a huge issue for the most part, but we’ve had to kind of pick and choose the trails we think might not have been well used, hence not as packed down and slippery.
I guess the point is, although we all love and strive for the ultimate backcountry expedition each time out, in essence, it does it really matter in the big scheme of things? Just getting out, whether it be in the backcountry of North Muskoka or a hike through a local Provincial Park really shouldn’t really be a concern. Being outside, soaking up the sun, watching the squirrels race around and listening to the wind as it gently blows through the forest and not having to worry about life and its challenges for just a brief few hours was and is perfect. In fact, it’s always perfect. It’s a good day when you’re main thought and concern is, “Did I remember to buy cranberry sauce to go with the turkey in the oven?”
At this time of the year, the Park is closed, but you can leave your car on the edge of the road that runs adjacent to the park entrance and simply walk around the entrance gate. When we visited there were three or four other vehicles parked as well.
I assume that some Ontario Parks staff work there during the winter months as many of the roads within the park and the parking areas surrounding the park office, store and maintenance buildings were plowed.
Six Mile Lake and the Park itself is exceedingly picturesque and it certainly delivers that Muskoka feeling and setting. But, a couple of things if you’re considering visiting and camping.
First, the Park is adjacent to Highway 400. Considering it was a holiday afternoon with not much traffic and certainly not much transport truck traffic, it was still loud on occasion when transports were roaring up “The 400.” It might be somewhat more tolerable in the “Maples” section which is located farthest from the highway. So, traffic noise might be a concern if you’re wanting more of a quiet setting. But having said that, I did find that after a bit, I tended to “tune out” the noise from the highway in that it just became part of the background sound. It was like that for me, but it might not be the same for you. So, beware.
Secondly, Six Mile Lake is a big lake and dotted with hundreds of cottages. In fact, when you look out from the beach areas in the park, you’re looking at cottages. If you come with a canoe, or a small boat thinking you’ll have the lake to yourself, you might be in for a surprise.
Nevertheless, as I mentioned it is a strikingly beautiful spot with two well-maintained beach areas including one with a children’s playground.
There is a very extensive boat launching area with what appears to be reservable dockage slips on a first-come, first-served basis. A quick call to the park when they open in May would confirm how the dockage system works.
There is also a dog play/beach area, canoe; kayak and SUP rentals, as well as a fully equipped Parks Store. In addition, there is also a small Interpretive Centre and three small hiking trails.
A few pictures from the afternoon.
Part of the reservable boat dockage slips.
With a little help and encouragement, hopefully, we’ll be ice-free soon in this area. But, considering when I’m writing this(April 5), winter came back with a vengeance(April 4) in the Central Ontario area.
Six Mile Lake also has a number of “walk-in” sites. Although not located too far from the main park road, these sites do provide an additional measure of privacy or remoteness as compared to the sites in the remainder of the Park. Numbering about six or seven in total they are more or less situated together on a level area half-way up a short incline. In this picture, you can see the main roadway below. I’m about 30 feet or so from the tent pad area on Site 17 in the “Lakeview Heights” section. You park your car down just off the roadway below.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this. Located near one of the beach areas, what a great idea if you came for a day visit and used a charcoal bbq.
All in all, we really enjoyed the afternoon we spent hiking and walking around Six Mile Lake Provincial Park. Despite its location close to the Highway and having to share the lake with cottages, the park is nonetheless located in a very quaint and scenic setting of South Muskoka.
Granite outcroppings of the Canadian Shield combined with a variety of pine and deciduous trees are about a nice as one can get. Having both non-electrical and electrical/serviced sites, Six Mile Lake Provincial would be a great spot to either pitch your tent or park the trailer for a weekend or longer.
Assuming you’re not stuck in traffic on Highway 400 coming out of the GTA on a Friday afternoon, a 2 hour or less trip is really a great feature. Take a half day off on a Friday; leave by noon and you’re set up on your site with a cool drink in your hand by 3 or 4pm.
So, now is the time friends to get planning for the summer camping trips whether they be a front-country excursion in a car to an organized campground or a backcountry canoe adventure with family and friends. Why not take some time and look at the Ontario Parks website for some great ideas on where to head out for a night, weekend or longer camping.
While you’re at it, make sure to check out all the information for Six Mile Lake Provincial Park. It has a lot to offer and would make for a great destination I’m sure.
Thanks for reading.