There is a reason Orillia and its surrounding region has become known as an outdoorsman’s four season playground. Ontario’s lake country offers a bountiful space for seasonal activities to thrive, as tourists and locals alike take to the great outdoors in one of the province’s most picturesque regions.
During the summer months, an endless array of activities awaits in Orillia’s great backyard. Cottagers flood to the lakes and local putting greens while boats replace cars as the most popular mode of transportation for months of fishing, golfing, paddling and soaking up the northern sun.
Fishing in Lake Country
Surrounded by an incredible 357 lakes and waterways of every size within 50 kilometers of each other, Orillia has become a destination hot spot for shore and boat bound fisherman looking to rise with the sun and troll the rivers for trout, perch, bass, walleye and everything in between.
Though there is no shortage of lakes to choose from, a few stand a cut above the rest as rated by local fishing communities and fishing reports. Bass Lake – a provincial park renowned for its sport fishing and Bass season each June; Lake Couchiching – a medium sized lake with a plethora of smallmouth bass and largemouth bass; Lake St. John is home to a number of species including Channel Catfish, Lake Trout, Spottail Shiners and more; alongside Mud Lake, Lake St. George, Grass Lake, Buck Lake, Beaver Lake and Matchedash Lake to mention a few.
For those who prefer shallower waters, Orillia has over 158 rivers, creeks and streams – also within 50 kilometres of each other. Some notable rivers include Bluffs Creek, Grouse Creek, Sucker Creek, Silver Creek, Wainman’s Creek, Hawkestone Creek, Allingham Creek and Purbrook Creek.
The area also hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year including the Orillia Perch Festival – one of Canada’s largest registered fishing derbies held every April.
There is also no lack of boat rental agencies and outfitters for those who wish to fish but are strapped to the shorelines without a vessel.
Golfing in Lake Country
Nothing quite feels like summer like being out on a golf course. Once the air warms up and the greens dry, Orillia’s fairways become flooded with golfers looking to test their new drivers and spend a day out in the sun.
A tailor-made getaway for golfers, Orillia and the surrounding regions boasts some of the most beautiful and artfully designed golf courses in Ontario.
Couchiching Golf and Country Club’s parkland style course is a renowned staple amongst Orillia’s courses. One of the oldest courses in the region, the prestigious club recently celebrated its 101st birthday; first opened in 1915, the course was designed by one of Canada’s most accomplished golf architects Stanley Thompson. The club offers both a nine hole and 18 hole course, a newly renovated club house and restaurant and welcomes all levels of golfers.
An impressively landscaped and challenging course, Hawk Ridge Golf and Country Club’s 45 holes can be found on over 390 acres surrounded by ponds, mature forests and bentgrass fairways. This championship course holds two 18 hole regulation courses and an Executive Par 3 – featuring four sets of tee decks to cater to every level of golfer in your group. A number of packages are available for those who wish to make it a day and dine at the on premise Hawk’s Grill.
Bonaire Golf Course, located in the heart of cottage country in Coldwater just outside of Orillia, is a golfer’s true getaway; featuring 27 holes renowned for their quality greens, woodland landscape and interesting, yet challenging, layouts. Their signature hole, the Island Green – part of their Island course –has golfers test their drive and accuracy onto a green surrounded by water.
The family owned and operated Lake St.George Golf Club located in the town of Washago, features three par 36 courses each established between 1952 and 2002 featuring rolling fairways, pristine greens and artfully crafted sand traps. Though a staple to Washago golfers for over 60 years, the golf club does not believe in remaining rooted in the past. The course is constantly being updated to cater to the ever-evolving game – but their rates remain low and very affordable for all golfers.
Orillia Golf and Country Club’s natural rural setting and long, wide fairways provides a challenging game of golf for those playing the 18 hole course. Extensive work was done to improve the greens, fairways and sand traps in 2015, elevating the course to pristine levels – only to be matched by the surrounding landscape. Along with the course improvements, the club now offers a beverage cart on the course as well as food options inside the club house.
Paddling in Lake Country
Boasting some of the most captivating natural settings in Ontario, there is no better way to explore lake country than getting out on the water. Whether your vessel of choice is a single man kayak, traditional canoe, self-propelled paddle boat or a stand up paddle board, Orillia’s waterways provide the perfect backdrop for an adventure day spent outside.
Thanks to funding from Regional Tourism Organization 7 and Tourism Simcoe County, Ontario’s Lake Country was able to work with paddling guru Mike Bartlett of Swift Canoe and Kayak of Waubaushene to develop a paddling guidebook featuring 10 of the best paddling routes on various waterways in the region. The 32-page information guide features safety tips, information about local outfitters, special events, fishing spots and diverse paddling routes that range from five to 15 kilometres in length for every level of paddler. Each route in the guide includes an easy-to-follow map, launch details, a description of the area, points of interest, information about local outfitters, route distance, degree of difficulty and other pertinent information needed to kayak, canoe and paddle your way through the region.
This Paddling Guide can be obtained through OntariosLakeCountry.com
For those without a boat of their own, there are a number of cottage country retailers and boat rental agencies at your disposal. Renting all types of water vessel by the hour or by the day, there is no lack of option for those wishing to paddle the weekend away.
Muskoka Paddle Shack rents a variety of canoes, kayaks and SUP paddle boards by the day. Rentals vary according to the number of days the vessel is required for – starting at $35 dollars per day for one to four day excursions and decreasing in price once you surpass five days. Rentals include the boat, paddles, personal floating devices, safety kits and necessary tie downs.
Happy Paddling in Barrie offers equipment rentals as well as lessons and adventure packages for groups looking for a guided tour of the lakes. All lessons and tours are hosted by certified Paddle Canada and Ontario Recreational Canoe and Kayak Organization instructors. Varieties of leisurely tours are offered along Barrie’s waterfront and are paired with a quick tutorial on proper paddling techniques and strokes. All tours cater to groups of up to six for a more intimate experience.
Rental costs vary from $25 dollars for one hour in a solo kayak, $40 dollars for tandem kayak rental; one hour of Stand Up Paddle Boarding is $35 dollars; canoe rentals are $40 dollars per hour per vessel, with an extra $10 dollar charge if three people take part in a single canoe.
All rentals include paddles, safety kits, personal floatation devices and short tutorial on how to properly utilize the equipment.
Written By: Gabrielle Tieman