We are so fortunate to have a plethora of incredible provincial parks in Ontario. We honestly have so many that chances are the average Ontarian doesn’t even know half of them! One of these lesser-known gems is Mikisew Provincial Park. While it may not have epic hikes like Killarney or iconic landscapes like Thunder Bay’s Sleeping Giant, Mikisew is not to be overlooked. Once you read all of the amazing things to do there, you’ll be planning your own trip as soon as possible!
About Mikisew Provincial Park
Mikisew Provincial Park wasn’t always known by this name. When it was established in 1957, the park was actually known as Eagle Lake Provincial Park! In 1960, it was renamed due to confusion with other Eagle Lake parks in the province and thus the name Mikisew – meaning eagle in the Cree language – was adopted.
Where is Mikisew Provincial Park you may ask? It is located just west of the town of South River, Ontario. Nestled on the shores of Eagle Lake, it offers plenty of outdoor activities. Whether you choose to stay a few nights or enjoy a day at the park, you’ll have a great time exploring it via both land and water!
While it has always had an emphasis on camping, Mikisew Park was created to protect a number of natural features. The upland forest and beaver pond as well as thicket swamp wetlands are provincially significant as they cannot be found anywhere else in the area. You’ll find at least 221 species of plants, 70 bird species, 9 mammals and another 9 amphibians and reptiles that call Mikisew home!
Things to Do at Mikisew Provincial Park
It might not be the largest but there is plenty of fun to be had at Mikisew Provincial Park! You’ll quickly see why it’s easy to stay a few nights and enjoy a true Ontario Parks camping experience.
Hiking at Mikisew
Mikisew has 6 trails to offer visitors, though most of them are short at less than a kilometre in length. The Lakeview, Point, and Old Dog trails all run along the shores of Eagle Lake and offer beautiful views. They will also take you to some of the other amenities such as the group camping area and beaches. Take a look at the Mikisew Provincial Park map and you’ll see what I mean.
However, the Beaver Meadow and Maple Canyon trails are both about 2 kilometres each. For those looking for a longer hike, they can be joined to form a 4 kilometre loop. With a decent range in elevation, some lookouts and a few boardwalks sprinkled throughout, these two trails are bound to scratch your hiking itch!
INSIDER TIP: Stop by the park office and pick up an interpretive pamphlet for the Beaver Meadow and Maple Canyon Trails before you go for your hike. It’ll offer additional insight into the flora, fauna and critters found along the trails!
Paddling Eagle Lake
With Mikisew being on the shores of Eagle Lake, it means there is plenty of amazing paddling opportunities. Launch from the boat dock or from the beach and enjoy a leisurely paddle around various inlets and islands. Enjoy the stunning views as you make your way by Amulet, Big Chief, Edgar and other various islands.
NOTE: These islands are all private property so while you can enjoy from the water, do not disembark onto them.
Unlike Silent Lake Provincial Park, motorboats are allowed on Eagle Lake which may be nerve-wracking to some paddlers. However, the shoreline is quite shallow meaning boats cannot come in very close and if they do, they need to slow down in order to avoid any mishaps which should ease some worry.
Stand-up paddleboards can be rented from the park office on a first come, first served basis. If you’d like to rent a canoe or kayak, you can do so from the Eagle Lake Narrows Country Store. No matter what watercraft you choose, don’t forget your PFD and safety gear!
This is something I didn’t even know provincial parks could offer! Mikisew is one of the few Ontario Parks sites where you can play not one but two disc golf courses. The 9 hole course has been around since the 1970s and the more difficult 18 hole course was established just a few years ago. Head to the park office where you can rent a disc (or buy your own) and give the courses a whirl.
Mikisew Provincial Park Fishing
Cast a line and see if you get any bites on Eagle Lake! The area is well known for Small and Large Mouth Bass, Lake Whitefish, Northern Pike, Perch and Walleye. While you can’t rent gear from the park store, feel free to bring your own rod and you can pick up tackle and bait from the Eagle Lake Narrows Country Store. Just don’t forget to have a valid fishing license handy!
Enjoy Some Beach Time
Mikisew has not one but four beaches that are perfect for soaking up that glorious sunshine! North and Centre Beaches are located in the Hardwoods Campground and you’ll find the third beach in the day use area. There are also racks at each of these beaches where you can pick up your paddleboard rental if you chose to snag one.
In the day use area, you’ll also find a fenced pet exercise area. If you’re bringing your pooch along, this is where you’ll find the Mikisew Provincial Park dog beach. In this area your dog can run leash-free! Also, this is the only beach dogs are allowed on as it is prohibited to bring them to the other three beaches.
More Things to Do at Mikisew Provincial Park
Speaking of the day use area, there are also a few more activities you can enjoy during your visit. Here you’ll find a beach volleyball court complete with net so if you’re camping with friends, bring a ball along and enjoy a game or two! There are also two sets of horseshoe pits perfect for some friendly competition.
As you’ve probably surmised, boating is also a popular activity at Mikisew Provincial Park. However, it’s important to note that there are a number of shallow areas and unmarked shoals so use caution when operating your boat on Eagle Lake.
Mikisew Provincial Park Camping
As I stated earlier, Mikisew Provincial Park was made for camping. It offers over 250 campsites spread across two campgrounds. The Hardwood Campground (sites 100-262) features beautiful rolling hills in a mature forest of maple and oak trees. The Pines Campground (sites 300-465) is nestled in a gorgeous red pine forest, hence the name. You’ll find a mix of both electric and non-electric sites in both campgrounds. Mikisew also has two group camping sites, Woodlot and Bonfire, that can accommodate up to 25 and 50 people respectively.
Glampers, you’ll be disappointed to hear that there are no yurts or cabins to rent at Mikisew Provincial Park. You’ll have to rent an RV or rough it in a tent to experience the park overnight!
I personally stayed on Hardwood Campground Site 129 which was a fantastic little spot. It offers quite a bit of privacy and is just steps from the beach. It’s also close to one of Mikisew’s comfort stations with a direct path to it through the trees. The only thing to note is that the power tower is a little further away so you’ll need at least 20 metres of extension cord to utilize the hydro.
In doing a little sleuthing of the campgrounds, I also noticed that site 242 would be another fabulous option. It’s an electrical site like 129 but it has almost direct access to the beach and the power tower is much more easily accessible. However, the facilities aren’t as great since you only have a vault toilet and not a comfort station which could be a deal-breaker for some. Lastly, I could see it being a little busier during peak season so if you’d prefer a quieter site, I’d recommend sticking with a site near 129.
Overall, the park is quite peaceful – especially in September. Who says camping season is over once Labour Day hits? As you can see from the Mikisew Provincial Park pictures in this post, it’s a beautiful destination for fall camping – and these are from early in the season!
You may hear some vehicle noise during your stay as the sound can carry but it’s not common as there are only country roads nearby. While you can visit Mikisew as a day trip, I highly recommend staying overnight. Whether you’re in a tent or a trailer, you’ll have a wonderful stay at the park!
What to Know For Your Trip to Mikisew & FAQ
Ready to plan your camping adventure to Mikisew Provincial Park? Here are some things to know for your trip along with some frequently asked questions about the park.
How Old is Mikisew Provincial Park?
Since it was established in 1957, Mikisew Provincial Park would be 64 years old as of 2021.
What Lake is Mikisew On?
Mikisew Provincial Park is located on the western shore of Eagle Lake, hence its previous name.
What Are the Directions to Mikisew Provincial Park?
Mikisew Provincial Park is located approximately one hour south of North Bay and approximately three hours north of Toronto. Coming from the north, make your way along the Trans Canada Highway aka Highway 11/17. If you’re coming from Toronto, head to the 400 and then make your way along Highway 11. You’ll want to take exit 282 for both directions and then head west along Mountainview Road/Machar Strong Boundary Road. Turn right onto Park Road South and you’ll see the entrance to Mikisew on your right.
When is Mikisew Open?
You can enjoy all Mikisew Provincial Park has to offer from the middle of June until the Thanksgiving weekend. Unfortunately, this means no winter action at Mikisew. Exact dates vary so be sure to check out the Ontario Parks site for confirmation.
What Should I Bring to Mikisew?
Your usual camping gear! Depending on the year, it can be rainy (as was my experience) so if the Mikisew Provincial Park weather forecast is looking grim, I recommend bringing some sort of tent shelter, a rain jacket and slush pants. It will make your trip much more enjoyable as you stay dry!
Is There WiFi at Mikisew Provincial Park?
As far as I know, WiFi is not available at any Ontario Parks site therefore no, there is no WiFi at Mikisew Provincial Park. However, the cell service is solid so if you need to be connected while at the park, you shouldn’t run into any trouble.
Are There Bears at Mikisew?
Like many provincial parks, there is the possibility for bear activity in the area. While it is uncommon, be a good park guest and make sure any food or animal-enticing items are safely locked away in your car when not in use.
If You’re Looking for More Ontario Parks Guides…
Hiking, Biking & More at Bronte Creek Provincial Park
See Why You Need to Rent a Cabin at Silent Lake Provincial Park
Don’t Miss This Hiking Guide to Short Hills Provincial Park
Give Winter Glamping a Go at Killarney Provincial Park
Enjoy a Chill Winter Escape at Windy Lake Provincial Park
This post is brought to you in partnership with Ontario Parks. While I was compensated for this trip, all of the content and opinions here are honest and speak to my personal experience!