Whenever you find yourself near Bancroft, chances are it’s because you’re planning a visit to Silent Lake Provincial Park. With paddling opportunities, great hiking trails, serene natural views and more, it’s a great Ontario road trip to escape and recentre yourself. See why you need to stay in the Silent Lake Provincial Park cabins and all the fun there is to be had at this amazing Ontario park.
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About Silent Lake Park
Celebrating over 55 years, Silent Lake Provincial Park was established in 1975. It was created to provide outdoor recreational activities close to the Haliburton area.
Considered a natural environment class park, Silent Lake spans 1610 hectares with the centrepiece being the 125 hectare lake that is its namesake. When the park was developed, special attention was given to preserving as much of the natural surroundings as possible. That way, visitors can enjoy the calming effects of nature and experience a serene visit. As such, approximately 80% of the park still remains in its natural state for all to enjoy.
Located just 20 minutes from town, Silent Lake Park is one of the top things to do near Bancroft. Keep reading to see why you need to plan your own camping experience… especially in one of the camp cabins!
Silent Lake Provincial Park Cabins
I’ve only stayed in a handful of cabins like those at Windy Lake Provincial Park but I have to say that I was extremely impressed with the Silent Lake Provincial Park Cabins. Each of the ten Six Point cabins sleeps up to five people. You’ll sleep soundly in these adorable rustic cabins, especially since each one is uniquely themed!
As with all Ontario Parks cabins, the cabins at Silent Lake each have a queen bed and a double/single bunk bed. You’ll have a propane fireplace as well as electric baseboard heating, though chances are you won’t need it one bit in the summer. Each cabin has a kitchenette equipped with a microwave, mini-fridge (no freezer), an electric kettle and counter space. While it’s not advised to cook any meals inside the cabins, there is a dining table and chairs if you wish to enjoy your eats indoors.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Ontario Parks cabins do NOT have air conditioning, which can be stifling during those wicked summer heat waves. While there is a ceiling fan in the cabins, you may want to bring additional measures to stay cool such as your own personal fan to plug in or an extra towel you can keep damp to help you stay cool.
Each cabin also has a screened-in porch area which is crucial in the war against mosquitoes, blackflies and deerflies. Just be sure to close one door before opening the other! Inside it, you’ll find some porch chairs as well as a space to hang wet gear, towels, etc.
Outside of each cabin is a propane barbecue on the deck for all your cooking needs. While there is a scraper, you will want to bring your own cooking utensils as they are not provided. There is also a picnic table along with a fire pit at each cabin. The placement of these two isn’t always ideal so I recommend bringing some folding camp chairs to ensure you can be nice and comfy if you choose to enjoy a campfire!
One thing you may not realize is that none of the cabins have running water inside. This means you will need to go to the comfort station located a short walk away. Here you will find toilets, showers and a dishwashing station. Only folks staying in the cabins have access to the showers and dishwashing station and you will receive the door codes when you check in. There is also a water station along this route with potable drinking water that you can access at any time.
If you’re wondering which of the Silent Lake cabins is best, I have to say it’s Cabin 210. Okay, so I might be a little biased since that’s where I stayed, however it’s the only one with a view of the lake itself. Plus, you only have one neighbour since you’re at the end of the road. I say those two features definitely make it a top contender for the best cabin!
Silent Lake Provincial Park Camping
While one of Silent Lake’s camp cabins is probably your top choice for accommodation, Silent Lake does offer additional camping opportunities.
The park is home to seven yurts, each of which sleeps up to six people on two bunk beds. There is a small table and folding chairs, as well as a wood stove. Again, you probably won’t need the latter in the summer months but it sure comes in handy come winter! Similar to the cabins, each yurt has a propane barbecue, fire pit and picnic table for all your cooking and eating needs.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Yurts 5, 9 and 36 are considered ‘rustic’ and don’t have access to electricity.
If you weren’t quite lucky enough to snag one of the Silent Lake yurts or cabins, Silent Lake Provincial Park has two tent campgrounds. This is also where you’ll find the yurts as they’re scattered throughout these areas. The Pincer Bay Campground is the furthest campground that has drive-in tent sites as well as a separate section for walk-in campsites. The Granite Ridge Campground has plenty of electrical sites, making it more desirable for those camping with RVs. You’ll also find some walk-in sites in this area, though they’re not as secluded as the ones you’ll find in the Pincer Bay Campground.
While I can’t say for certain what sites are best as I didn’t tent camp, I took a quick look around and noticed that Pincer Lake sites 111 and 112 were very private. Surrounded by trees with little to no neighbours, these would be my top picks if I were scoping out a campsite at Silent Lake!
There are no backcountry camping sites at Silent Lake Provincial Park.
Things to Do at Silent Lake Provincial Park
As with many of Ontario’s parks, there’s always lots to see and explore! These are the best things to do at Silent Lake Provincial Park.
Canoeing at Silent Lake
As the namesake for the park, experiencing Silent Lake is a must and the best way to do this is with a paddle! This 2.5 kilometre long lake offers a beautiful rugged shoreline, little inlets and plenty of wildlife to admire. It is prohibited to use motorized boats on the lake meaning you’ll have no big waves to contend with – as long as Mama Nature isn’t blowing a gale. If you’re a beginner like me, this will put your mind at ease! If you’re looking to extend your paddle, you may be able to portage to the adjoining Quiet Lake and Soft Lake depending on the water levels.
A Silent Lake canoe rental is very affordable and you have a few options. While you can rent a canoe for one hour, you’ll certainly want it for longer so go for the six-hour rental for $25. There is also a 24-hour option for $50 which is ideal if you’re staying overnight and are looking to paddle in the evening as well as the morning. No matter what option you choose, a $60 damage deposit is required per boat which will be returned to you once you’re done.
Swimming at Silent Lake Park
Of course, if paddling isn’t for you then swimming is always a fantastic option for Silent Lake. The park offers two sandy beaches to help you stay cool on those hot summer days!
The largest beach is situated by the day-use area. Here you will find flush toilets, a large grassy area and some picnic tables scattered throughout the area. As for the beach itself, there is a roped-off area in the water that is perfect for families with young children. Beyond that, the water levels drop and you will come across large rocks so be careful and keep an eye to avoid any scraped knees!
The other beach is over by the Pincer Lake Campground. While this beach is smaller, it is a bit more secluded as it is located over by the walk-in campsites.
Silent Lake Provincial Park Hiking
Whether you’re an avid hiker or looking for a leisurely stroll, Silent Lake has a trail for you. There are three hiking trails at Silent Lake, each of which has its own beauty to offer.
The shortest is the Lakehead Loop Trail at 1.5 kilometres in length. This trail will take you along a small section of Silent Lake’s shore through a tall, peaceful forest then back towards the Silent Lake campgrounds. It should take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Bonnie’s Pond Trail is next at 3 kilometres in length. The trail will lead you through beautiful beech trees as you pass a beaver pond to enjoy the beautiful views from the lookout. This trail takes about 75 minutes to complete.
Lastly, there’s the Lakeshore Hiking Trail which is a bit of a beast. At 15 kilometres long, it will take you around the entire circumference of Silent Lake. While it doesn’t offer a huge change in elevation unlike certain hikes (I’m looking at you, Killarney with the Crack Trail), it is a much more rugged hike. It takes you through a large stretch of shoreline which is underdeveloped, meaning it can be hard to stay on the trail. If you’re not an experienced hiker, I would recommend sticking to the Lakehead Loop and Bonnie’s Pond trails. Take a look at the Silent Lake hiking trail map here.
Mountain Biking at Silent Lake
One thing that makes Silent Lake quite unique compared to other Ontario Parks is that it offers not one but two mountain biking trails! Both are considered to be on the more difficult side though the 11 kilometre loop is a little less so than the 17 kilometre loop. If you choose to utilize these trails, use caution as they overlap at points with other trails and also cross some access roads within the park.
I’m not an avid cyclist myself but judging by the number of bikes I saw at campsites and on car racks, I know many are thrilled about this aspect of Silent Lake.
Silent Lake Provincial Park Fishing
Bring your rod and cast a line at Silent Lake! You’ll find both small and largemouth bass, yellow perch and sunish in these waters. Be sure to check the Ontario Recreation Fishing Regulations to see what’s available for the season you’re in. Try your luck from the lake or head out on the water via canoe or kayak and see if anything bites.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: It is required by law that you have a valid outdoors card and Ontario fishing license in order to fish in the province. You can purchase a one day, one year or three year license from a number of local shops and outfitters or you can do so online.
Watch for Wildlife
There is no shortage of adorable critters to be spotted, especially by the Silent Lake Provincial Park cabins. Keep an eye out for red squirrels and chipmunks as they’ll happily scurry about your campsite. However, they have no qualms helping themselves to any food that’s in their grasp so keep an eye on your food and help keep the wildlife wild.
For the avid birders out there, you’ll find a number of feathery species in the park. Red-eyed vireos, white-breasted nuthatches, yellow warblers, great blue herons and many more species can be spotted along the trails and throughout the park. One of my favourites though is the loon. I just love hearing their calls as they echo off the calm lake in the evenings!
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Winter Camping at Silent Lake
Believe it or not, Silent Lake is arguably one of the most popular parks for winter camping. I’d say this is partially due to the fact that they have more roofed accommodations than many other Ontario Parks. Besides cozying up by the fireplace in a cabin or yurt, Silent Lake Provincial Park has a number of fun winter activities you don’t want to miss!
Silent Lake is home to over 34 kilometres of cross country ski trails. There are four loop trails that all connect as they start and finish at the day-use parking lot. The Green Loop at 2.5 kilometres and the Red Loop at 5 kilometres are the easiest trails. The 10 kilometre Yellow Loop is rated as moderate with the Blue Loop being the most difficult at 16.5 kilometres.
Of course, snowshoeing is ever popular in the wintertime! The Bonnie’s Pond Trail is accessible in the winter months as it is converted into a snowshoe trail once the fluffy white stuff appears. Also, 5 kilometres of the Yellow Loop cross country ski trail allows for snowshoeing. While it’s recommended you bring your own pair, you can rent snowshoes from the park office. However, they are first come, first served!
If you want to test your luck and see if you get any bites, you can cast a line and go ice fishing! You can find lake trout in the winter months as they meander towards the bottom of the lake. It’s said you can typically find them where you’ll notice a change in elevation, though baitfish will certainly give their position away!
Things to Know for Your Trip to Silent Lake
Ready to head on up to Silent Lake Provincial Park? That’s what I like to hear! Check out some of the frequently asked questions to make sure you’re prepared, though I’m sure you’re already planning your own Ontario road trip to visit!
How far is Silent Lake from Toronto?
Silent Lake is 221 kilometres from Toronto and it will take you approximately 2.5 hours to get there. While there is the option of taking the 407 toll highway, it only shaves off about 10 minutes and really isn’t worth the cost. Just take Highway 401 to the Ontario 115, then follow the signs for the Ontario 28 and Silent Lake will appear on your right!
How Hard Is It To Book a Cabin or Yurt at Silent Lake?
It honestly depends on the year, but it seems as though the cat is out of the bag and Ontario Parks cabins and yurts are now EXTREMELY popular. With everyone sticking close to home lately, cabins and yurts are booked quickly as they can be reserved up to five months in advance of the date. This means you’ll need to be online at 7:00 am at that 5 month ahead mark and hope that the reservation system is on your side if you need specific dates. If you can be flexible, keep an eye out for cancellations as you just might scoop up a gem like Silent Lake’s cabin 210! These tips will certainly help your chances as well.
What Do I Need to Bring to Silent Lake?
Besides your usual camp gear, if you’re staying overnight in the yurts or cabins, you’ll need to bring your own bedding. The only thing you’ll have is your bed – pillows and all that jazz are up to you! Be sure to pack all your cooking utensils, food, bug spray, hiking gear, swimmers, etc! If you do forget anything, there are shops in Bancroft for when you’re in a pinch that are a 20 minute drive away.
Are There Bears at Silent Lake Provincial Park?
While chances are you won’t run into one, you are in bear country at Silent Lake Provincial Park. This means you must be diligent in keeping your food locked up inside your cabin, yurt, car or bear box. Don’t leave any food out which may attract them. It’s most likely the noise from campers will keep them away, however this will also help you battle the raccoons which may pose a bigger threat to your food. They’re crafty little buggars and have been known to open cooler latches in no time flat!
Can I Bring my Dog to Silent Lake?
Yes, you can bring your dog! However, there are a number of rules you’ll need to follow if you’re planning to bring your pooch. Ontario Parks has them outlined here but if you’re looking for specifics for Silent Lake, I recommend calling the park office for clarification.
While dogs are allowed in all of the campgrounds at Silent Lake, they are only allowed in Yurt 5 and Cabin 201. If you’re planning on staying in roofed accommodation, you will need to book either of those. There is also a fee of $20 per night to have your dog stay with you. For anyone who is allergic to dogs – I recommend steering clear of these two.
How Bad are the Bugs?
It will honestly depend on the Silent Lake Provincial Park weather forecast and how rainy of a year it has been, but it’s certainly not uncommon to be chased by the odd deer fly, especially in the more forested areas. I found that the mosquitoes weren’t too bad though some seemed unphased by my go-to bug spray. You’ll probably want to have a campfire each night to help keep them at bay with the smoke, especially if you’re tent camping.
Where Can I Get Firewood?
Please purchase all firewood from the Silent Lake park office. By bringing wood from home or another destination, you’re running the risk of transporting insects which could be a huge threat to the ecosystem here. Just look at the case of the emerald ash borer which has decimated our ash tree population in Ontario. If the park itself is out of firewood, ask at the park staff and they should be able to direct you as to where you can get some that will have little to no risk of harming the environment of Silent Lake.
Are There More Provincial Parks Nearby?
There sure are! Ontario’s largest park, Algonquin Provincial Park, is located about a 90 minute drive north from Silent Lake. The ever-famous Bon Echo Provincial Park is also a 90 minute drive away but you’ll be heading east.
If you’d like some provincial parks that are a bit closer, Egan Chutes Provincial Park is just 30 minutes along the Ontario 28 on the other side of Bancroft. If you’re an avid paddler, you’ll want to plan a visit to Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park as it’s a top paddling destination in Ontario.
Looking for More Provincial Parks to Explore? Check Out These Guides!
Bronte Creek Provincial Park
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Rondeau Provincial Park
Short Hills Provincial Park
Windy Lake Provincial Park