Two hours from Toronto, McCrae Lake Conservation Reserve is a great destination for a simple backcountry canoe or hiking trip. Experience some Muskoka wilderness and have an epic adventure, and do this all for free. That's right, this is a no fee camping area.
McCrae Lake is completely enclosed within the boundary of the conservation reserve and is accessible by hiking trails or two quick and relatively simple portages, although most campsites are water access only. There are no cottages on the lake and you can have a true wilderness experience only a short drive from Toronto. As always, be sure to leave no trace. What ever you pack in, pack out with you.
Note: you can download a high resolution version of this map by right clicking it and selecting "save image". We don't have a higher resolution or larger version available.
Free overnight parking is available at the entrance to the hiking trails and first portage, off the 400 south ramp. Follow directions for "McCrae Lake Parking" in Google Maps, access off of Crooked Bay Rd/Georgian Bay Rd.
The trailhead is located at the southwest corner of the parking lot. Do not get confused by the portage trail at the north end which leads to McDonald Lake. The trail is about 2 kilometres long and leads to a high ridge on McCrae Lake called Eagle's Nest. There are only a few campsites available within walking distance.
Canoeing to McCrae Lake means you'll have access to all of the campsites, and is a simple paddle involving two small portages from the parking area. The first portage is located at north end of the parking lot and is about 100 metres long on a wide and well travelled trail. You'll put your canoes in on McDonald Lake and travel northwest to the waterfall connecting McDonald to McCrae. While there are campsites on McDonald Lake, you're more likely to hear noise from the highway if you camp here. The second portage is about 150 metres, accessible from the western shoreline from a bare rock face. Put your canoes in and head west out of the channel into McCrae Lake, there's over 30 sites to choose from.
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