Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park – Cloudy Lake

To celebrate our anniversary (4 years), we booked a site on Cloudy Lake at Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park for Labour Day weekend. This would be our third trip into the park and a new lake to explore. We invited other friends along and had a great weekend camping with them.

We went in through the Cold Lake access point on Catchacoma Lake and had a good paddle down through narrows into Gold Lake and then eventually into Cold Lake. Reaching Cold Lake was the boundary of the park.

We did a 1339m portage from Cold Lake into Cloudy Lake. The Portage was really neat. There was a lot of barren rock and shield, so the portage was marked with a lot of yellow blazes on rocks, rock cairns, flagging tape and small yellow portage signs. This portage is probably better suited for experienced paddlers because you need to be able to read and know the various markings to stay on the portage trail.

It was probably the hottest weekend all summer. It was at least 30 degrees celsius and very humid. I was happy to spend the weekend on the water. Once we reached our campsite I had to go for a dip!

We slept with the fly off our tent because it only went down to a low of 17 degrees celsius. I loved it so much. There were no bugs so we could even keep the doors open a little to help air flow.

I woke up the next morning at sun rise. It was already extremely muggy and it was before 7AM! B and D were up at 5AM to go hiking through the backcountry. I took this opportunity to capture a few photographs.

B and D returned early and just in time for breakfast!

I spent the day dipping in the lake, starting my nature journal, hanging out with Banjo and our friend S. When the guys returned from another backcountry hiking excursion we had lunch. S went down to the lake to grab some water when she noticed a weird black thing in the water, maybe a loon. But with a closer look it was a black bear swimming toward our campsite!


We all rushed down to the water to get another look and the bear was scared so turned around. We were happy to see its reaction, because that’s exactly how a bear should behave. It swam back to the other side of the lake and we didn’t see it again. It was incredible to watch and one of the rewards for getting out into the wilderness.

For those of you who believe it’s better to camp on an island if you’re afraid of bears, think again. They can swim!  Here is a video that I took.

After all of that excitement it was time to play with Banjo.

We spent the evening hanging out on the various “front porches” on our site and had a few bush martinis. It was a wonderful short trip and made me realize that any amount of time spent out there is worth it.

I will definitely be back to this lake. Kawartha’s are beautiful and so close to home.


  1. I obviously love all these adventures you guys take, but can’t understand why you don’t fish to have a great fish and chip shore lunch. You would only need to have 4 or 5 potatoes and some oil to have a great shore lunch and fish is really good for you, too!!! 🙂 Just a thought… Fasha


    • I agree completely. But, Cloudy Lake was very warm and I didn’t catch anything worth keeping. Since I have decided to fish 100% barbless 100% of the time, I lose a lot!
      Plus, B said he is no longer putting my fish out of its misery, so if I’m catching for eating, I need to take care of it first and I haven’t been able to wrap my head around that just yet!


      • On our way now! Just a quick overnighter on Crab lake. Definitely the least-remote place we will have been all year, but in shoulder seasons it’s nice to take it easy in case anything goes wrong.


  2. Beautiful photos! The Cold-Cloudy portage has been updated recently to make it easier to follow, although its still a hilly trek!


    • Thank you! It really is a neat portage. When we arrived, someone had scribbled all over the portage sign in black marker about how they got lost on the portage, that it was dangerous and that they ended up taking the creek south of the portage (that was also very difficult). We ignored the sign and found that the portage was well marked if you knew what to look for. When we came back out of Cloudy Lake, Ontario Parks had removed the vandalized sign and put up a new one.


    • Ha ha! Banjo is a real trooper! I just love taking her out with us because she needs it just as much as we do.

      And the bear? Yes, I was quite surprised to see it swimming toward our site, but it turned around as soon as it noticed us. That made me feel better!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It makes me feel better reading it! I’ve only been in the backcountry a handful of times so I’ve never seen one yet. But I’m sure my time will come!


  3. I grew up paddling this area 40 yrs ago. Cloudy used to be the best largemouth lake in the district. There was a walking trail from Mississauga, but we often canoed in on the creek, which was very easy back then. Probably changed now, depends on beaver activity. Good to see that it is still a nice place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Daniel! Cloudy definitely had a really neat feel to it. There wasn’t an “official” portage to it when KHPP went from a signature site to a provincial park. But in the last couple of years I see new portages added, with Cloudy being one of them.

      How did you access the lake/park? Through Cold Lake Access?


      • Hi, sorry to be so long in answering your question- no email notification. My parents had a cottage on the Mississauga River and we kept a boat on Mississauga Lake, so we would boat to the trailhead on Mississauga or to the creek on Cold, towing the canoe as we were lazy. There was not Cold Lake access back then. It would take about half an hour to paddle up the creek. I have not been back for decades, should do a trip there someday.


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