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The Trent-Severn Waterway is a scenic 386 km stretch connecting Lake Ontario to Lake Huron. A National Historic Site of Canada, the Waterway naturally has a storied past, but today serves as a recreational attraction to the boaters, paddlers, cyclists, and other visitors drawn to explore its scenic, meandering route. Nestled along its length are a series of charming communities known as the Trent-Severn Trail Towns – in this post we’ll look at Peterborough & the Kawarthas’ Buckhorn.

Buckhorn is only half an hour north of Peterborough but feels much further away. Pass Chemong Lake and you can see the geography turn rugged as you reach the southern tip of the Canadian Shield, while the agricultural landscape transitions to woolly forest. That remarkable contrast is central to Buckhorn’s appeal – visit and you’ll find a lively community surrounded by quiet Canadian wilderness.

Boats lined up at Lock 31, Buckhorn

At the entrance to town is a statue of a leaping whitetail deer, the Buckhorn Buck. Lock 31 of the Trent-Severn Waterway passes nearby, providing a distinctive landmark for the boaters passing between Buckhorn Lake and Lower Buckhorn Lake. Fishing enthusiasts come to these waters because the bays and inlets provide diverse habitats for bass, walleye, muskie, bluegill, perch, and crappie. Nearby Pigeon Lake has a similar reputation, with many fisherpeople trolling near the picturesque truss bridge over Gannon’s Narrows.

A popular option for canoeists is Wolf Island Provincial Park, accessible only from the water. At 7.5 km from Buckhorn, it makes the ideal spot to break for a picnic. Wolf Island is a “non-operating” park, meaning there are no facilities on site but you are free to visit. You’ll find beautiful stands of trees and rocky outcroppings to sit and take in the view (see our paddling guide for more on Wolf Island). If you enjoy the trip out to Wolf Island, consider making you next expedition a camping trip in Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, the largest park in southern Ontario after Algonquin. Buckhorn is the perfect location to fuel up before heading to one of the access points on the western side of the park.

Kayaker paddles around Pigeon and Buckhorn lakes

Even if you don’t have a suitable watercraft, you can explore the beautiful terrain around Buckhorn. Petroglyphs Provincial Park is a short drive away, home to the largest known collection of Indigenous rock carvings in Canada. This sacred site is hundreds of years old, making the Learning Place Visitor Centre an unforgettable experience for all ages. Explore the park trails and you’ll find McGinnis Lake, one of Canada’s few “meromictic” lakes. The lake’s water layers don’t mix, which gives it a distinctive blue-green colouration.

If you’d like to see how the landscape has inspired contemporary artists, check out Gallery on the Lake. Their extensive collection of Canadian paintings, prints, and sculptures is complemented by the beautiful lake views. Check their website for news on special exhibits, classes, and more.

For a literal taste of the region, visit Kawartha Country Wines. This Buckhorn-area producer offers one of the largest selections of fruit wines and ciders in Ontario. With delicious varieties like rhubarb, plum, and black currant it’s easy to find something new to try, and the beverages pair well with the in-house preserves, vinegars, jellies and other delicacies.

Speaking of food, Buckhorn’s Lakehurst Rd packs lots of options into a short stretch. Try the Cody Inn Restaurant for Chinese and Canadian cuisine; kitty corner to that is Mainstreet Landing with its classic pub fare. A few doors down is Pizza Alloro, serving up specialty pizzas and pastas.

As its name suggests, Buckhorn is intriguingly natural and rugged. That woodsy charm doesn’t come at the expense of options and amenities, though – visit this Trail Town and you’ll find artistic, culinary, and cultural experiences that match and enhance its innate appeal.

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