Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Ontario -

Also known as:  The Kawarthas

The Kawartha Lakes are a band of beautiful lakes in south-central Ontario, Canada that form the upper watershed of the Trent River. Although 14 lakes combine to form the famous “Kawarthas,” the Kawartha region is home to over 130 lakes. Best known for fishing, the lakes offer a mix of both cold and warm water environments that can host a wide variety of fish species. For non-anglers, the Kawartha Lakes region is rich in culture with its many art galleries, antique stores and hundreds of cultural events and attractions. When visiting the Kawarthas, one of the hardest choices to make is which lake to visit and what activity to partake in. Inviting sandy beaches, miles of open water, public parks and cozy lakefront cottages make the area an outdoor lover’s paradise.

The Kawartha Lakes are generally known as Bald Lake, Balsam Lake, Buckhorn Lake, Cameron Lake, Chemong Lake, Clear Lake, Deer Lake, Katchewanooka Lake, Lovesick Lake, Pigeon Lake, Sandy Lake, Scugog Lake, Stony Lake, and Sturgeon Lake. Once a rural area for lumbering, the lakes now make up a popular summer-resort area. The towns of Peterborough, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Kawartha Lakes, Buckhorn, and Fenelon Falls are a few of the area’s communities which offer marinas, tackle shops, and various vacation rental options to make sure guests are well-rested and properly outfitted for a day on the water. Accommodations range from luxury resorts to woodland campgrounds, making the perfect vacation destination to suit any taste. Private real estate is also available for rent or purchase.

The Kawartha Lakes are part of the Trent-Severn Waterway which connects Lake Ontario at Trenton to the Georgian Bay part of Lake Huron at Port Severn. Construction of the waterway began in 1833 at Kawartha Lakes and took 87 years to complete. It wasn’t until 1920 that the first boat was able to make the entire journey. Originally built for commercial use, the Trent-Severn Waterway stretches for 240 miles with 20 miles of manmade canals, 44 locks, 39 swing bridges and 160 dams.

The word “Kawartha” comes from the aboriginal word “kawataegummaug”, which means “land of reflections”. It was hoped the phrase would provide positive advertising for the area. Tourism promoters changed the name to Kawartha which was easier to say and means “bright waters and happy lands.” The city of Kawartha Lakes, which sits in the midst of this vacation paradise, was named for the lakes and is an excellent starting point for planning your outdoor adventure.

The Kawartha Lakes extend a total of 44 miles beginning with Balsam Lake in the west to Stony Lake in the east. From Balsam Lake, boaters can either go west to the Kirkfield Lift Lock and downstream to Canal Lake, or east to Rosedale and downstream to Cameron Lake. Continuing east downstream through Fenelon Falls is Sturgeon Lake. Sturgeon Lake is significant because it gives boaters the option to either go upstream to Cameron Lake or to the town of Lindsay and Scugog Lake. Continuing downstream through the town of Bobcaygeon, the flow of the Kawartha Lakes enters the tri-lakes. Pigeon Lake, Buckhorn Lake, and Chemong Lake are commonly referred to as the tri-lakes because despite having three names, they are all one body of water. Downstream from the town of Buckhorn is Buckhorn Lake, commonly referred to as Deer Bay because the bay makes up a large percentage of the lake. The smallest lake in the Kawartha Lakes is Lovesick Lake. Lovesick Lake was intended to be a part of Buckhorn Lake. The dam at the outlet of Lovesick Lake was constructed to flood Lovesick Lake to the same elevation as Buckhorn Lake, making the two lakes one body of water, but this never happened. Stony Lake, at the end of the line, is the deepest of the lakes with a maximum depth of 105 feet.

For anglers, the many lakes in the Kawartha Lakes region offer a wide range of fishing options. Public docks, rocky points, islands, and reefs can be found throughout the lakes. Boat ramps in many towns along the lakes offer access to the clear, blue water. Trout are the most sought after fish followed by walleye, muskie and pickerel. The tri-lakes are famous for largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing. Panfish, perch, bullhead, and black crappie are also plentiful in the area’s shallow waters. Each lake has its own characteristics which make it a favorite for anglers. There are a number of businesses in the area that cater to fun on the water and offer sales and rentals on all kinds of outdoor water equipment including house boats, fishing boats, pontoon boats, water skiing equipment, and more.

The Kawartha Lakes area is also a natural wildlife refuge for birds and animals. White-tailed deer can be seen grazing in fields and forest edges anytime of the day. Moose have also been spotted on a regular basis in the area. With hundreds of miles of walking trails and forest to explore, visitors will have no trouble spotting wildlife in its natural setting.

Although mostly thought of as a summer vacation area, the Kawartha Lakes offer winter activities as well. Ice fishing, ice skating, and well groomed trails for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and hiking opportunities abound. Down hill skiing areas are within an hour’s drive of the lakes. Winter accommodations can also be found throughout the region.

Surrounded by the rolling landscape of the Kawartha Highlands and the imposing scenery of sedimentary rocks, treed shorelines, and a mix of rustic and richly decorated cottages, the Kawartha Lakes area has much to offer the outdoor enthusiast. Wooded hiking trails, beautiful sandy beaches for swimming, and charming Canadian towns that welcome visitors and tourists combine to provide the perfect vacation.

Things to do at Kawartha Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Kawartha Lakes

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sturgeon
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Kawartha Lakes Photo Gallery

Kawartha Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Parks Canada

Surface Area: 67,403 acres

Shoreline Length: 606 miles

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 841 feet

Maximum Depth: 105 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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