Arrowhead Provincial Park reminds me of a small-scale version of Algonquin Park. The environment is beautiful and we have gone to Arrowhead for summer camping, winter snow tubing, and even day trips because it is quite close to our home in Toronto. Here is what you can do at Arrowhead:
Environment: Arrowhead is located in the near north region of Ontario, just five kilometres north of Huntsville. Arrowhead was established in 1971, although it has been open for camping since 1966. Located in the Canadian Shield, Arrowhead offers: lakes, rivers, waterfalls, bluffs and forests. If you like Algonquin Park, then visit Arrowhead. In fact, if you are heading to Algonquin Park via highway 11, you will drive right by Arrowhead Provincial Park.
Beach: There are four beaches along the south end of Arrowhead Lake. All beaches are great for swimming and the busiest area is at the canoe and kayak rental depot. If you want a campsite that is close to the beach, the Roe and South Lumby campgrounds are excellent choices.
Biking: The Arrowhead Lake Cycling Trail is approximately five kilometres and loops around Lake Arrowhead. The trail is flat and is excellent for hiking as well. There is also the three-kilometre Hardwood Hill Cycling Trail loop that can be accessed near the park store. Cycling is also permitted on campground roads. The main park roads are quite hilly and twisty, so you will need to be alert and in good shape to cycle up some of these roads.
Camping: Arrowhead has 378 campsites that are split into four campgrounds (North Lumby, South Lumby, East River and Roe). We’ve camped at the Roe and South Lumby campgrounds, due to the close proximity to the beach. Most of the campsites at Arrowhead are quite good in terms of size and privacy.
Canoeing: Canoe and kayak rentals are available along the beach (southwest corner of Lake Arrowhead), where it connects to Little East River. You can paddle around Arrowhead Lake and up Little East River to Stubbs Falls. Stubb’s Falls is one-kilometre away from the canoe rentals depot. Beyond Stubbs Falls, Little East River connects with Big East River. Some canoeists will paddle the ten-kilometre route from the Williamsport Bridge (Williamsport Road and Muskoka Road 3) downstream to Arrowhead Lake along Big East River and Little East River. Please note that due to lower water levels on the Big East River, canoeing is best in the spring and early summer.
Fishing: Rainbow trout and small mouth bass can be found in Mayflower and Arrowhead Lakes.
Hiking: There are five hiking trails in the park, which is incredible for a park of this size. The Big Bend Lookout is a “must see”, as it is maybe a 100-metre hike from the parking area and offers a spectacular view of the Big East River. The two-kilometre Stubb’s Falls Trail offers an equally spectacular view of Stubb’s Falls. My favourite hiking trail is the Arrowhead Lake Cycling Trail. This five-kilometre loop is popular with hikers and connects with the four-kilometre Beaver Meadow Trail loop at the north end of Arrowhead Lake.
Shopping: There is a small park store and souvenir shop at the park office, with a larger store situated just outside the park boundary. Huntsville is only a five-kilometre drive and is one of the prettier towns in Ontario. Huntsville has a great downtown shopping strip and several large box stores are located on the north end of town, easily accessible from highway 60.
Wildlife: There is lots of wildlife in the park. We’ve spotted deer along the park roads on numerous occasions.
Winter Activities: Arrowhead is open from early December through late March each winter and offers a full range of winter activities, including: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, and tubing. The tubing is a lot of fun and a great family activity. For a variety of winter activities, Arrowhead is one of the best choices in the Ontario Parks system.
In Conclusion: If Algonquin Park lays the blueprint for the top park in Ontario, I would say Arrowhead is one of the top parks in the province. The July-August occupancy rate for 2009 was 77%, however, ensure that you have a reservation if arriving on a weekend. Plan to spend at least four to five days at Arrowhead, as there is plenty to do there.
My Park Rating: 4.5 out of 5