Take a dip during your rip – Ontario’s Highlands Swimming Holes

/ August 8, 2023

We’re officially in the dog days of summer riding, and it can get HOT. After a few hours on the blacktop, the warm breeze just doesn’t cut it anymore and something a little more refreshing like a dip in a lake is needed. Thankfully a swimsuit doesn’t require much space in your saddlebag. To get you through the super hot days and keep you riding, here is our list of swimming spots to splash around in.

Route: Deep Valley Run, Valley Sally

Located on Top 10 Road, Old Barry’s Bay Road, Crooked Slide Park is a favourite swimming hole for both locals and visitors. This destination features a reconstruction of an old log chute used by loggers in the 1900s. Choose from wading in the natural pools, standing under the chute’s waterfall or climbing upstream to sit in the tiny rapids. This swimming spot will become one of your go-to stops for future rides.

Amenities Available: Bathrooms, picnic tables

Route: Dynamite Alley, Highlands Loop, Riding and Relaxation

The ride to Eagle Lake Beach is filled with twists and turns whichever direction you decide to take. This 30-metre, sandy beach is located in a protected inlet of Eagle Lake, providing a relaxing swim with very little waves. If your swim works up an appetite, just ride up the road to Twin Fires & Gunner’s Pub at Sir Sam’s Inn and Spa where you can refuel.

Amenities Available: Bathrooms, picnic shelter, swimming raft

Route: Highlands Loop, Pick-Axe Loop, Deep Valley Run

 Riding west out of Calabogie towards Centennial Lake Road, you will find Barnet Park situated on Calabogie Lake. This park offers two sand beach locations to choose from, with stunning views of the lake. Once owned by a Lumber Baron, the property has since been donated to the township for the public to enjoy. Barnet Park Beach is the perfect swimming spot to finish a day of riding the Pick-Axe Loop. Jump in the lake to rinse off all the dust from your gravel tour before heading back to Somewhere Inn Calabogie for the night.

Amenities Available: Washrooms, picnic tables, picnic shelter

Motorcycle in front of Calabogie Lake

Route: Deep Valley Run, Calabogie Boogie, Meand’rin Motorbikes

Stop along Deep Valley Run at Burnstown Beach, located on Calabogie Road. Set on the Madawaska River, this swimming spot offers a large sandy beach and has been recently upgraded, including changerooms, washrooms, a canteen with drinks and snacks, as well as kayak and paddle board rentals.

Amenities Available: Washrooms, changerooms, picnic tables

Route: Rideau Ridge

After riding a few hours in the heat, cool off at Sharbot Lake Beach. This shallow sandy beach is excellent for swimming, with a swimming dock located in the deeper water. Shaded picnic tables are also available if you need a break from the sun on very hot days.

Amenities Available: Washrooms, changerooms, picnic tables

Motorcycle in front of Sharbot Lake
Photo Credit: Nathalie Boyer

Route: Deep Valley Run, Pick-Axe Loop

This long narrow beach is just a quick detour off of Old Barry’s Bay Road or the Pick-Axe Loop and is totally worth braking for. This crystal-clear lake has a soft sandy beach with a great view of the highlands as its backdrop. You can either park along the road or by the washrooms on the west end of the beach. 

Amenities Available: Washrooms, picnic tables

Route: Highlands Loop, Deep Valley Run

Drop your kickstand at Petawawa Point Beach, or what the locals call “The Point” for a swim. This beach is located at the junction of the Petawawa and Ottawa rivers. Soak up the stunning view while enjoying the water. After your swim, refuel at The Shed for some east coast inspired street food, and head across the street to Dog House Brewing Company to pick up some Petawawa Point Shandy to enjoy at your final destination.

Amenities Available: Washrooms, paddling rentals, snack bar, picnic tables, sun shelter

Woman in water with paddle board

Route: Highlands Loop, Dynamite Alley

On your ride up Highway 35 to connect with the Highlands Loop, stop in to Twelve Mile Lake Beach just south of Carnarvon. This large sandy beach features a mix of sunny and shady areas to relax in. After cooling off, continue your journey up 35 to Rhubarb Restaurant for a bite to eat.  

Amenities Available: Portable washrooms

Route: Highlands Loop, Dynamite Alley

As you ride your way along the Highway 60 corridor through Algonquin Park, you will find a great place to stop for a swim at km 33.8. The Lake of Two Rivers Picnic Ground and Beach is popular destination during the summer and fall months with its stunning view. It is important to note that to use this area, you will need to purchase a day use pass which costs $21; so we also suggest visiting the very cool Algonquin Logging Museum. It is worth checking out.

Amenities Available: Washrooms, picnic tables

Motorcycle on sand in front of lake
Photo Credit: Erin Reda

Route: Highlands Loop, Dynamite Alley

Located on Highway 60, Dwight Beach has a charming sandy beach with crystal clear water and a beautiful backdrop of the highlands. This beach is known to get busy on the weekends, so it is best to drop your kickstand here if you are riding during the week.

 Amenities Available: Picnic tables, Muskoka chairs

Honourable Beach Mentions:

Wilbermere Lake Beach, Tory Hill

Take a quick dip so you can continue to rip. Located on Loop Road, Wilbermere Lake Beach is a great stop for a quick bathroom break and jump in the lake.

Bent Anchor Bar & Restaurant, Combermere

Grab a bite to eat at this beach restaurant. Cool off in the Madawaska River while waiting for your food.

Ontario’s Highlands is scattered with lakes and with many being located on Crown Land it isn’t hard to find a swimming location on your Ride the Highlands trip. With lots of stops to choose from, you will be able to stay cool on the road this summer.

Motorcycle in front of lake
Photo Credit: Earle Butt
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