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Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, Wolf Lake, Site 301

After the success of our canoe camping on Big East Lake the previous year, we naturally turned again to Kevin Callan's "Paddler's Guide to Ontario's Cottage Country" for more suggestions. The chapter on Crab Lake got our attention. When the book was written, this area was still free to canoe, but we soon found out that it had recently become regulated, maintained and would require us to pay for reservations. This was quite OK with us - we prefer structure to chaos. The Camis registration system for these sites (Backcountry in Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park) showed pictures and availability.

All guides and forums pointed to Crab Lake as THE destination, since Wolf Lake, through which you had to paddle first, had cottages and motorboats. But, for the sake of our comfort and the ease of bringing in two canoe loads of gear, we swallowed our aprehensions and and booked one of the two sites on Wolf Lake. When we arrived, on the July holiday Monday, we were nervous because the lake and its shore were teaming with cottagers. We had left home early in order to get a good start so we got to our reserved site by 10:00 a.m. But there were still two couples there lounging around and showing no evidence of being in a hurry to pack. Oh boy! After confirming their intentions to leave, they agreed that we could pile our gear off to the side, and we went back for the second load. We got back with that just before noon and they were still packing, so we went to a small neighbouring island to have some lunch. By one they had departed in their failing motorboat and we finally had the spot to ourselves. By four, Wendy was sitting with coffee reading a book and I was taking my first pictures.

The quality of this campsite was not immediately obvious to us, but we very soon began to experience this spot as the most beautiful of any we have camped on. By the end of the first day, the week-enders had gone and for the next four days we had almost total privacy and exclusive access to a whole peninsula of gorgeous rocks and trees, surrounded by water perfect for swimming in and canoeing on. There was plenty to explore close by, and though we did paddle to the bottom of Wolf Lake, we never did feel the need to go on to the popularly preferred Crab Lake.

If we weren't so driven to keep exploring, we would happily come back to this spot every year.