Kawagama Lake is only minutes from Lake of Bays and Dorset and is one of the best kept secrets in the Dorset area. Although almost as large as Lake of Bays, it has a totally different character and is not known nearly as well. Approximately one third of the lake is Crown Land so there are vast stretches of undeveloped land which gives it more of an Algonquin feel by far than Lake of Bays. This essential difference is what Kawagama residents cherish. It has far less boat traffic and development than Lake of Bays and for these reasons is a more quiet lake overall.
The water quality and clarity is exceptional with source water coming from pristine lakes edging into the Algonquin Park area. It directly feeds Lake of Bays through the Hollow River, entering into Lake of Bays at the end of Little Trading Bay. The early name for the lake was Hollow Lake and many locals still refer to it by that name. In fact, the Hollow River, which flows into Lake of Bays, harks back to the original lake name.
Kawagama allows access to two additional lakes; Bear Lake and Kimball Lake. You can navigate the river between Bear and Kawagama with any size boat. Bear is a mid-sized lake with fantastic bass fishing and some extraordinary scenery at the northeast end of the lake. There are soaring cliffs more reminiscent of British Columbia than Ontario, with areas at the base where ice remains long into the spring. Legend has it that natives used this for a natural freezer for game preservation. There is a trail that you can hike to the top of the “Bear Mountain” that provides some breathtaking vistas. It’s about a twenty minute hike through a park-like conifer forest.
The other attraction on Bear Lake is “the falls” which are located directly opposite “Bear Mountain”. This series of pools is a popular picnic spot and frequently used by campers. It’s also a favourite spot for the young crowd because there’s a rope swing that’s always waiting for daredevils. And speaking of daredevils, there’s one other attraction on Bear Lake; the jumping cliffs. They’re just what the name implies, a place for kids of all ages to take a daring jump or dive. All these fun spots are on Crown Land so accessible for all. The second lake you can access from Kawagama is Kimball Lake which is, again, a mid-sized lake. For access to this lake, you’re limited to an aluminum boat, kayak or canoe. It has the most relaxing approach through the Kimball River, just following the current, looking for wildlife. When you get to the point where it joins Kimball Lake you need a little coordinated help because the slight difference in lake level to river level creates a strong current you either have to paddle through or pull your boat through. Once you’ve done it once, it’s a breeze and the effort is well worth what you’ll find. Kimball is a jewel of a lake with only a handful of cottages and absolutely stunning shoreline. At the east end of the lake is a fabulous beach. Part of the beach is privately owned, the other part is Crown Land with a portage trail leading up into Rockaway Lake in Algonquin Park. An absolutely gorgeous place to enjoy sun and sand with barely any human sounds to intrude. The north shore of Kawagama offers another Crown Land playground called Jeanne Bay. There are rock cliffs which have been the nesting site of bald eagles in the last couple of years. There are also several camp sites, one on a rocky point and the other at the foot of the little creek that flows down into Kawagama from the Jeanne Lakes above. The trail between the 2 is only a couple of minutes’ walk and Jeanne Lake is totally untouched.
Kawagama has a spectacular fireworks display on the Civic Holiday weekend in Marina Bay. Moorelands Camp (established in 1917) is situated on perhaps the most beautiful peninsula of land on Kawagama Lake. It is operated by the Downtown Church Workers Association Toronto and has offered generations of children and youth living in the city the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature in this beautiful setting. Canoes full of campers on day outings or overnight tripping are common sights on the lake during the summer months. With its stunning sand beach, Moorelands is also the site for the annual Kawagama Lake Regatta. Kawagama has a very strong lake association run by dedicated cottage owners www.klca.org. They were instrumental in developing a Lake Plan in 2004 to help maintain the character and quality of the lake. They continue to monitor municipal developments including any proposed lake development or zoning issues and annually publish “Reflections”, a publication that includes lake news, updates on water quality issues as well as artistic and narrative contributions from cottagers. There are two large marinas on the lake which service the large number of water access properties on the lake. Mountain Trout House Marina and Old Mill Marina both offer covered slips, winter storage, service and stores that stock the basics.