Trip #6 Charleston Lake Provincial Park

Location GPS: Charleston Lake Captains Gap Backcountry site @44.54401371221308,-76.02931201457977
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I’m describing this as a new trip because it was so different from the Rideau experience.

After leaving Davis Lock I drove into Ganonoque to discuss kayaks with 1000 Island Kayakers and scope out possibilities camping in the area and MacDonald Island in particular. We had a great chat and I planed to return as soon as I could.

The evening had been much cooler the past few days so I picked up a hunter’s toque, some stove fuel and a bigger tent that was on sale post Labour Day. I headed back up to Charleston Lake Provincial Park and found that all the sites I was interested in were booked until the next day so I had to camp on a mainland site, which was a first for me. It was a cold and drizzly evening and the kayak was still on the roof. Everyone in the park was having a great time even though it seemed like a suburban neighbourhood to me. I actually did some laundry and had a shower!

The following morning I obtained a permit to a back-country lot called Captain’s Gap. Map in hand and a nice brisk morning with clear sunshine and I was off on my next adventure. The lake is majestic. I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of it let alone visited. Beautiful islands, towering granite outcroppings and regal cottages dotted the scenery.

Boat launch to Captain’s Gap Backcountry sites is about 3.5 km.

I arrived at my site and was surprised to find 3 10’x10′ platforms, a picnic table, a fire pit and off in the trees, a pair of outhouses (vault toilets in the brochures). It took me a while to figure out how to set up my tent without staking it.

I settled in and enjoyed the afternoon exploring around the camp area.

In the morning I paddled along the eastern coast and the spectacular Rubies Rock outcrop and then north up to the town of Charleston. I explored the town and bought some firewood before heading back. The wind was up and the paddling was very difficult. Others paddling the lake were also struggling until we got into the lee of islands near Fisherman’s monument.

Captain’s Gap to Charleston Village and return via Rubies Rock is about 11 km.

Over the next few days I hiked and paddled the spectacular area and met a number of interesting people. It was a fantastic location and on the way back to the boat launch on my last day I checked out several other sites for my next visit.


  • The map on the top left is interactive so you can zoom in and explore the features mentioned.
Things learned!

  • The hiking trails at Charleston Lake are fantastic and quite rugged.
  • If you do hike bring a pack sack with water, snacks and a first-aid kit. It would be easy to take a fall on some of the rocky portions of the trail