Photograph of a calm lake with forested shoreline


The Haliburton Highlands Water Trails (HHWT) is a municipally managed backcountry canoe routes system that consists of approximately 28,000+ hectares of provincial and municipal public lands comprised of countless lakes, rivers, trails and continuous forest. Follow our tweetsFacebook Icon

The Township of Algonquin Highlands manages and regulates camping under the HHWT program in two distinct management areas: the historic Frost Centre canoe routes and the Poker Lakes canoe routes.

These areas are part of a shared use forest system and serve as year-round destinations for thousands of canoeists, campers, hikers, day-trippers, fisherman, hunters, cottagers, snowmobilers, skiers and snowshoers providing significant backcountry recreational and conservation values.

As a shared use forest, each area also has forestry (logging) operations. More information on area forest management plans can be found on the provincial website at 


Frost Centre Area

TBlackcat Lakehe Frost centre area encompasses approximately 26,500 hectares of rugged backcountry provincial crown, municipal and private lands comprised of mixed forests and 60+ lakes, some with cottages and others that are undeveloped. There are numerous canoe route possibilities, 171 interior backcountry canoe/boat-only access campsites and 70 portages. There are a limited number of 'road' access campsites which are primarily found along the Sherborne Lake Forset Access road. Forest access roads are managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, they have limited maintenance, are use at your own risk and we recommend a 4wd vehicle with high ground clearance to access them. Information on forest access road conditions can be found here:

The Frost Centre Area has something to offer to all levels of canoeing/camping experience, skill and ability. It’s an ideal getaway for families and paddlers looking for two- to three-day trips.

The area can be accessed by 11 public access points, most of which are easily accessible off of Highway 35 North. Significant natural and aesthetically pleasing features can be found throughout the area, from waterfalls, to natural old growth forest, to the Black River head water wetlands. Some notable areas are two conservation reserves - the Clear Lake conservation reserve is an area representative of old growth Hemlock forest and is protected from future logging operations. The Dawson Ponds Conservation reserve was established to protect provincially-significant floral features.

Poker Lakes Area

The Poker Lakes area encompasses approximately 1,800 hectares of remote backcountry provincial crown and municipal lands comprised of mixed forests and 12 lakes with minimal development. Camping/canoeing routes include 47 campsites and 10 portages.

This is an ideal area for novice paddlers, families or anyone looking to have a relaxing and rejuvenating adventure in a natural setting.

Access to the area is from two public access points, one at 5128 Highway 118 and one on the Cinder Lake access road, off of the Black River Road. It should be noted that the Cinder Lake access road is a remote, unmaintained, “use at your own risk” road, and the access point itself can only be reached by a truck, SUV, ATV, snowmobile (in winter) or on foot. Vehicles using this access point should be equipped with 4-wheel drive capabilities as there is very rough terrain and two water crossings.

What is a 'backcountry' campsite?

All of the campsites in the HHWT are backcountry. This means that they are remote, rugged and offer no amenities beyond a stone fire pit and wooden privy box, which is an open air style outhouse. Access points are in remote areas and far from amenities such as grocery stores, visitors should come prepared with everything they need. Travelling in the backcountry is a very rewarding experience which requires careful planning and preparation. Canoe tripping can be a physically and mentally challenging activity that requires adequate levels of fitness. Trippers should have experience and knowledge in navigating wild areas by map, compass and GPS and the safety considerations associated with it. Choose routes that match your comfort level and ability. Be prepared for emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. 

Winter Camping

Campsites are able to be reserved for winter camping. There are important things to consider when planning your trip:

Winter Access points - Only the Frost Centre and Big East Lakes access points are maintained for winter access. Other access points are not maintained and not accessible. 

Winter Forest Access Roads - The Sherborne Lake Road, Cinder Lake Road and Margaret Lake Road are not plowed or maintained in any way in the winter. The Sherborne Lake Road becomes a groomed snowmobile trail. \

Campsites - To access campsites, visitors must be knowledgeable and confident in winter travel in the backcountry and understand the inherent risks associated with it. 

Winter Safety in the backcountry:

Winter is an awesome time to visit and experience the backcountry trails of the Haliburton Highlands and Muskoka’s. The snow covered landscape provides breathtaking views of snow covered forests and majestic ice falls. Winter offers increased solitude and peace quite different from the activity of summer.

A trip during winter requires additional planning and preparedness by all members of your group. Your safety is your sole responsibility. Therefore please practice the following in planning your trip prior to your outing into the backcountry:

  • Prepare and file a trip plan with family and friends.
  • Check the weather forecast beforehand. Pay particular attention to impending temperature drops, wind chill, blowing snow and storm fronts.
  • Dress appropriately, wear layers. Know how to avoid, recognize and deal with frostbite, hypothermia, and snow blindness.
  • Take an emergency pack including maps, gps/compass, communication device, whistle, ice picks, extra clothing, first aid kit, flash light, fire starter, water, and high energy foods.
  • Plan on being back to your vehicle or campsite an hour before sunset and gauge your trip accordingly.

Ice Safety - know the dangers of ice:

Have fun and be safe to have the best experience that the winter can offer!

Reservations and Online Maps

Camping permits are required for backcountry campsites from January 2nd to December 18th annually in both the Frost Centre and Poker Lakes Canoe Route areas.

Reservations can be made starting January 2nd of each year.

Reservations are site and date specific, meaning that you can choose what site you will stay on in advance.  The on-line reservation system allows you to make reservations as well as browse maps, view campsite photos and check availability of campsites.

Online reservations are encouraged. These offer customer convenience and reduce wait times. Online reservations can be made at this link:  

All reservations require full payment upon booking and reservations via the online reservation system are only payable by Visa or MasterCard

Once a reservation is completed you will be given a booking number.  The booking number serves as your camping permit and you are not required to register on site upon entering the area.   Please carry the booking number on your person at all times while camping and traveling in the area and produce to staff upon request.

2021 HHWT Fees 

Camping Fees - All taxes are extra Per Night Disabled
Per Adult (age 18 or older) $12.83 50% of rate
Seniors (age 60+) $10.44  
Per Youth (age 6-17) $5.93 50% of rate
Per Child (age 5 and younger) $0.00 $0.00
Per Group Campsite (11-16 people) $162.33 50% of rate
Reservation Fees (non-refundable) Fee
To make or change a reservation     $10.00

All fees are subject to change.

Reservation Policies

  • Campsite capacities are restricted to a maximum of 4, 6, or 10 persons. Group sites are unavailable to family and/or friend groups.
  • HHWT Group Campsites are specifically and only for organizations which provide and specialize in outdoor education and/or wilderness tripping. Typically, these organizations have accreditation with a governing body such as the Ontario Camps Association, Scouts Canada or similar; a curriculum and  mandate related to back country camping; guides and instructors certified in wilderness first aid and backcountry camping related instruction; insurance for leading backcountry camping expeditions; and a publically open enrollment process.  The process for an organization to be approved for group site reservations requires that a member of the organization be listed as the main contact and be solely responsible for all bookings related to that organization and for ensuring that the organization understands and accepts all risks and liability associated with leading groups on back country trips.  If you represent an organization meeting the aforementioned criteria and you would like to reserve Group Campsites with the Haliburton Highlands Water Trails, please contact the trails office at 705-766-9033 or email We will ask you a series of questions about your organization to determine your eligibility. No consideration will be given to large groups of family/friends.
  • Please call the Trails Department Office 705-766-9033 directly for trip planning advice before making a reservation.
  • Reservations can be made in advance up to the day of arrival for the entire camping season.
  • Multiple reservations in the same name for the same time period are not allowed (except for Agents of approved organizations).
  • A campsite may be reserved and occupied for a maximum of 6 consecutive nights and 7 days.
  • Reservations cannot be assigned from one person to another without changing the reservation.
  • For any change to a reservation, a non-refundable administrative fee will be charged.
  • Reserved campsites may be occupied starting at 12:00 noon (EST) on scheduled day of arrival.
  • Checkout time - campsites must be vacated before 12:00 noon (EST) on the date of departure.
  • Cancellations and changes to the arrival date must be made by 12:00 noon (EST) of the original scheduled day of arrival.
  • Reservations are only held until 12:00 noon (EST) the day following your scheduled arrival date. Reservations not claimed by this time will be considered a “no show”.

Payment Policies

  • Full payment is required at the time of reservation
  • Payment may be made by Visa, MasterCard, debit, cheque or money orders; for Call Centre or Internet reservations payment is by Visa or MasterCard only.
  • Cheques and Money Orders must be received within 14 days of making your reservation to confirm your campsite and at least 21 days prior to your arrival date.
  • NSF/cancelled cheques will void your reservation immediately and be subject to an administration fee.
  • Please make cheques payable to the Township of Algonquin Highlands.  Please indicate the HHWT reservation/booking number on the back of the cheque.

Refund Policies

COVID-19 Lockdown Refund Policy:

  • If provincially mandated COVID-19 regulations require that campsites be closed, a refund for the required cancellation will be provided for all fees EXCEPT the non-refundable $10 reservation fee, which will be forfeit. If a COVID-19 lockdown related cancellation is required, a customer service representative will be in contact with you to process the cancellation and refund.

The following refund policies apply at all other times:

  • For cancellation notices given 1 week (7 days) or more in advance of date of arrival, a 60% refund will be issued, for notices less than 1 week from date of arrival a 40% refund will be issued.
  • A “no show” will result in the reservation being cancelled with no refund.
  • Under extenuating circumstances (member of camping party is seriously ill, death in the immediate family), campers may be eligible for a full refund.  Conditions such as weather, high insect populations, etc. DO NOT constitute a valid reason for a refund.  To apply for a refund, please contact our staff at the Trails Office at 705-766-9033.

Contact Information

Trails Office (Haliburton Highlands Water Trails)
20130 Highway # 35 North
Phone: 705-766-9033
Fax: 705-766-2402

Mailing Address:
Township of Algonquin Highlands
1123 North Shore Road, Algonquin Highlands, ON K0M 1J1

Hours of Operation

Victoria Day Weekend to Thanksgiving Weekend
Open 7 days a week 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

After Thanksgiving to Dec 31 - Monday - Friday 10am-3pm

January 1st to end of March Break - 7 days a week 10am - 3pm

End of March Break to Victoria Day Weekend - Monday - Friday 10am-3pm



Access Point Addresses and GPS