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Charleston Lake

Charleston Lake Provincial Park

Backcountry Camping

1. The Experience:

Charleston Lake Provincial Park is a great introduction to backcountry camping. The family-friendly campsites show off the beauty of the Frontenac Arch with picturesque views of Charleston Lake and its clean rocky shoreline.

Hiking, paddling, fishing, swimming, and relaxing on scenic shorelines are some of the top activities for backcountry campers at the park.

Charleston Lake offers 10 backcountry campsites, grouped in small clusters. Depending on the site, they are accessible from 10 minutes to two hours by hike, boat, or paddle.

On each campsite you will find two to three raised wooden tent pads, a fire pit, picnic table, and an enclosed privy.

2. Reservations and Interior Camping Permits

Campsite specific reservations are available online or by phone up to five months in advance of your arrival date. Reservations are recommended to secure your campsite.

Interior camping permits are required for backcountry camping at Charleston Lake Provincial Park. Permits can be printed at home within 14 days of your arrival date or can be obtained at the gatehouse upon arrival.

3. Trip Planning

Basic maps indicating campsite locations are available free of charge at the park. More detailed maps are available for purchase at the park.

If you are boating or paddling, park your vehicle at either the backcountry access point parking lot located approximately 2.2 km from the gatehouse or at the lot adjacent to the boat launch located approximately 2.6 km from the gatehouse.

If you are hiking, campsites 501 and 502 can be accessed via the Shoreline Trail. All other campsites are accessible along the Tallow Rock Bay hiking trail. Parking is available at both trailheads.

Charleston Lake offers canoe and kayak rentals at the back of the Discovery Centre from 8 am – 8 pm from mid-June until Labour Day. During the spring and fall, canoes and kayaks can be rented from the main office or gatehouse.

For more information about Charleston Lake and local outfitters, click here.

Please be respectful of the natural environment and other visitors. Practice leave-no-trace camping, camp only on designated campsites, and be aware of your surrounding neighbours, ecology, and wildlife. We appreciate your efforts to maintain this pristine environment.

Car Camping

Charleston Lake offers camping in three separate campgrounds. The Bayside and Shady Ridge Campgrounds are located adjacent to the lake in a mature, wooded setting. The Meadowlands Campground is located in a younger forest with some partially open sites for those sun seekers.

Each campground has a mixture of electrical and non-electrical sites and can accommodate camping equipment ranging from a tent to a large RV. All campgrounds offer treated drinking water and comfort stations with flush toilets, showers and laundry facilities. Hiking trails, Nature Centre, Day Use area and Amphitheatre are only a short walk away.

Group Camping

Charleston Lake offers three group camping sites located away from our campgrounds.  Each site can accommodate up to 40 people.  Vault toilets and treated drinking water are adjacent to the sites.  Each site has a large, level grass area, a covered picnic shelter and fire pit.  Electricity is not available. Reservations can be made online or by phone.

Roofed Accommodation

Roofed Accommodation Rustic Cabin

Number at Park: 1

Site Number(s) / Name: Tall Pines Cabin

Located on the eastern shore of Charleston Lake, south of Huckleberry Hollow. Cabin occupants get full use of park facilities including comfort stations, visitor services activities, hiking trails, beaches, boat launch, etc.

This cabin is water access only. It is approximately 2km from the boat launch to the cabin.






  • The cabin has approximately 640 sq. ft. of interior space (1 bedroom, kitchen, living room/dining room), plus two exterior decks
  • The bedroom has a double/queen bunk bed, a fouton in the living room (sleeps 2), dining room table and chairs, Muskoka chairs on the deck, picnic table and fire pit. A propane BBQ with side burner is also included.
  • There is no electricity service at this cabin. Solar powered interior lights are provided. A composting outhouse is also included.
  • A dock is provided at the cabin

What to Bring

  • Remember to bring items such as a vessel to get you to the cabin, food, cooking/eating utensils, pots/pans, blankets/linens, pillows, potable drinking water, firewood, etc.
  • Firewood, ice and potable drinking water are available in the park campground.
  • Rental canoes are available to reserve by calling the park directly, we can’t guarantee one is available if it is not reserved.


Reservations are available for 6 nights only (Saturday to Friday) from the 3rd Friday in June to Labour day. Outside of this window there is a 3-night minimum stay and a 3-night minimum stay on long weekends.

Maximum of 6 people or one immediate family.

No cooking in cabin, no pets, no smoking, campfire in approved area only and all natural objects are protected.

All rules and regulations governing conduct within the park apply to the cabin.

No excessive noise at any time, always be considerate of others, private residences are not far from the cabin. Always keep the cabin area clean, please remove your garbage/recycling when you leave. Do not cut, damage or remove any plants or animals.


Parking for one vehicle is included with the permit. Additional vehicles must purchase an additional vehicle permit. Parking is available at the boat launch or canoe launch.

How to Reserve

Reservations can be made online or by phone.

Roofed Accommodation Soft Sided Shelters

Number at Park: 4

Site Number(s) / Name: 313, 315A, 315B, 315C

Charleston Lake has four yurts located in Shady Ridge Campground which can accommodate up to six people per yurt.






Each yurt comes equipped with two futon bunk beds, a table and chairs, garbage/recycling containers, propane BBQ, picnic table and fire grill. A communal treated drinking water tap is on-site, toilets and a comfort station are close by as is the Shady Ridge beach. Sites 313, 315A, 315B, 315C offer barrier-free access.

The yurts at Charleston Lake have electricity and electric heat.

What to Bring

Visitors should bring their own bedding, cookware and dishes.


There is a 2-night minimum stay and a 3-night minimum stay on long weekends.

Please note dogs are permitted in Yurt 315C. Pets are not permitted in any other Yurts. Smoking is prohibited. Cooking in yurts is not permitted.


Parking for one vehicle is included in your rental fee.

How to Reserve

Reservations can be made online or through our call centre by calling 1-888-ONT-PARK.