Haliburton Highlands, also known as Haliburton County, is a municipality of about 21,000 people (2021) in Central Ontario. It offers more than 600 pristine lakes, and thousands of hectares of virgin forest and wilderness on one of the highest parts of the Canadian Shield. The county includes Algonquin Provincial Park's "panhandle" in its north east corner.
The Highlands are only a few hours from centres such as Ottawa, Toronto, and Barrie, yet the area has preserved its natural and wild setting. Nestled between the increasingly developed and expensive Muskoka Region and the unspoilt and vast Algonquin Provincial Park, the Haliburton Highlands are a great place for a relaxed, cultured, and beautiful vacation amongst the peaks and lakes.
As a large rural county, Haliburton is made up of a number of smaller towns and communities. Place names, directions, and everyday conversations with locals may refer to the old townships, villages, lakes or rivers:
- The village of 1 Haliburton is the primary community in the United Townships of Dysart et al, on Head Lake and the Drag River. Note that Haliburton Lake is some distance away, near the tiny community of Fort Irwin. The town is roughly in the center of the county, on Highway 118.
- The town of 2 Minden is in the township of Minden Hills, on the Gull River and Highway 35. It is also known for being the county seat for the entire Haliburton County. Visitors will pass Minden arriving from the Kawarthas.
- The community of 3 Cardiff is on the eastern edge of the county, in Highlands East. A group of towns and hamlets around Cardiff call themselves the Geocaching Capital of Canada. Visitors will pass through Cardiff on Highway 118, arriving from Bancroft.
- At the County's far north west corner 4 Oxtongue Lake is cut off from the provincial highways in the rest of the county. Instead, it's on Highway 60 which connects Huntsville with Algonquin Park. It's the last settlement on the highway before entering Algonquin Park, but it's mostly known as a hub for cottage rentals.
Its economy is dominated by tourism. The ratio of properties occupied in the summer months to properties occupied year-round is about 3 to 1. Employment primarily caters to the needs of this seasonal cottage country population, including residential construction, resorts, services and retail.
It was named after Thomas Chandler Haliburton, author, statesman, and the first chairman of the Canadian Land and Emigration Company.
- Haliburton Highlands Tourism
- Destination Ontario: Haliburton Highlands
- 1 Haliburton Welcome Centre, 7 York St (Haliburton Village), ☏ . Jun-Sep 10AM-5PM, Oct-May 10AM-4PM.
Most people enter Haliburton by car. While Haliburton residents have refined countless personal routes into the County, most visitors stick to the main highways. However, traffic congestion on weekends from May to August can try anyone's patience, and visitors should "be inventive" when planning their trip.
- From the south: Provincial Highways 35 from Toronto and 28 from Peterborough are the two main arteries from Southern Ontario
- From the west: Provincial Highway 118 from Bracebridge
- From the north: Algonquin Park's southern boundary obstructs direct road access from the north, and most visitors entering the County from this direction take the eastern or western routes.
- From the east: Provincial Highway 28 is the most common route from Ottawa and Eastern Ontario
- The Haliburton Highlands have more than 600 freshwater lakes, many of which are suitable for pontoon plane landings and take-offs
- There is also the centrally located Haliburton/Stanhope Municipal Airport for general aviation; there are no scheduled services.
At its widest and tallest, Haliburton County is about 70 km (43 mi) by 70 km, and the distance from Cardiff in the south east to Oxtongue Lake in the north west is about 130 km (81 mi). Having access to a car lets you experience the variety of wilderness that the county is known for.
Although the highways are only two-lanes wide (one in each direction) and twisty due to the rocky, swampy landscape, navigating the county is fairly simple if you know the few key routes. Highway 35 runs generally north-south, entering the county in the south near Kinmount, passing through Minden Village, Carnarvon, St. Nora Lake, and Dorset, before leaving the county in the north, toward Dwight and Highway 60. Highway 118 runs generally east-west, entering the county in the east at Paudash, near Bancroft. It passes through Cardiff, Haliburton, Stanhope, Carnarvon, and Big East Lake, continuing west out of the county to Bracebridge.
Highway 60 passes through the county from Dwight to the west gate of Algonquin Park, serving Oxtongue Lake along the way. County Road 21 links the villages of Minden and Haliburton.
If you've arrived without a car, taxi services are available in Minden and Haliburton Villages. Car rental is available only in Haliburton.
By ATV or snowmobile (with the appropriate permit, as conditions allow), the Haliburton Rail Trail can take you about 35 km (22 mi) from Kinmount to Haliburton. Sturdy bicycles can also use the rail trail, as well as a network of other roadways, gravel pathways or service roads, but riders should be aware of rough surfaces, steep hills, and highway traffic.
- 1 Agnes Jamieson Gallery, 176 Bobcaygeon Rd (Minden Village). Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM. Minden's public art gallery, featuring works by local artists. By donation.
- 2 Haliburton Highlands Museum, 66 Museum Rd (Haliburton Village). Summer: Tu-Su & holiday Mondays 10AM-5PM; spring & fall: Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM; winter Sa Su 10AM-5PM. The main museum and its galleries are wheelchair accessible. Accessible washrooms are available on the second floor. by donation.
- 3 Haliburton Highlands Outdoor Association Fish Hatchery, 6712 Country Rd 1 (Gelert Rd) (Near Haliburton Village), ☏ . Tu Th 10AM-2PM. Haliburton Gold Lake Trout is a genetically unique species of fish only found in some of the lakes of the Haliburton Highlands, descending from a trout population that became isolated from other trout when glaciers retreated thousands of years ago. Volunteers at the hatchery raise tens of thousands of fish for 18 months before releasing them into local lakes in support of the local fishing industry. The hatchery runs tours on some Saturdays, and holds other events throughout the year.
- 4 Haliburton Sculpture Forest (in Glebe Park near Haliburton Village). Dawn to dusk. A unique outdoor collection of sculptures by Canadian and international artists. Free tour every Tuesday at 10AM and Wednesday at 12:10PM in July and August. By donation. In the winter, you must have a valid ski trail pass.
- 5 Minden Hills Museum and Heritage Village, 176 Bobcaygeon Rd (Minden Village). May-Oct Tu-Sa, 10AM-4PM. 6 historic buildings preserved from throughout the region demonstrate what life was like in the late 1800s, including a school house, log cabin, and bank. By donation.
- Scenic look-outs and vistas on top of rocky cliffs and hills provides views of surrounding peaks and lakes. The views are especially spectacular in fall, as leaves turn to bright red and orange.
- 6 Circuit of Five View Points (Algonquin Highlands). A 5 km (3.1 mi) look over mixed terrain, providing several (but fewer than 5) different viewpoints.
- 7 Crests of Kennisis (Algonquin Highlands). A 6 km (3.7 mi) hiking trail with cliff-top views
- 8 James Cooper Lookout, 1242 North Shore Rd (Near Carnarvon). Accessed by a gentle slope, or a quick, steep hike.
- 9 Panorama Park, 1090 Panorama Park Rd (Minden Village). Picnic site and lookout above the town of Minden, accessible by car.
- 10 Skyline Park (Haliburton Village). A small park overlooking Haliburton and Head Lake. Accessible by car.
- 11 Stanhope Heritage Museum, Log Chute and Lookout, 1123 North Shore Rd, Carnarvon (Hwy 35 (Algonquin Highlands)). Mid-Jun to Sep: W-Sa 11AM-2PM; Sep to Jun, Sa 11AM-2PM. Specializes in local pioneer history and is home to the historic Hawk Lake Log Chute. Hawk Lake Log Chute is the only remaining log chute of its kind in Ontario. The log chute has been painstakingly repaired and reconstructed. There is an expansive view of Maple, Beech, Boshkung, and 12 Mile Lake from the Stanhope Lookout, beside the Stanhope museum. By donation.
- Several waterfalls are easy to access:
- The mysterious Harburn Wells, deep shafts in the Canadian shield developed during the last ice age.
- 1 Dorset Lookout Tower, 1191 Dorset Scenic Tower Rd (located off Hwy. 35, just north of the village of Dorset). Late May to mid-Oct: daily 9AM-6PM, and F-Su through to mid-Nov depending on the weather for fall colours viewing. Viewing platform 142 m (466 ft)) above Lake of Bays. Facilities include picnic sites, restrooms, a tourist information kiosk, a gift shop and a hiking trail. Car $7-9, camper/RV $20-25.
- 2 Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve, 1095 Redkenn Rd (Haliburton), ☏ . It is a research facility, an education centre, and a sustainably managed forest. It is operated by a private company with two businesses: tourism & recreation, and forest products. Activities year-round: hiking, canopy tours, lake trout fishing, ice-fishing and dog-sledding in winter. There is a resident wolf pack and a wolf education centre. Camping and cottage rentals are avaialble.
- Yours Outdoors. Provides guided wilderness tours to see wildlife, plants, or to demonstrate other activities in the forest, such as climbing, stargazing, or fire building. Also operates the canopy tour in the forest, 500 m (1,600 ft) long tree-top boardwalk, up to 20 m (66 ft) off the ground.
- Haliburton Highlands Water Trails, 20130 Highway # 35 North, Haliburton, ☏ . Backcountry camping, canoeing and portaging through 28,000 hectares (69,000 acres) of provincial and municipal public lands comprised of countless lakes, rivers, trails, conservation areas and continuous forest. Canoe rentals are available. A wide range of itineraries can be planned, from 1-2 night weekend trips for beginners or families, to longer adventures that require more skill. Routes are organized into two areas: Frost Centre and Poker Lakes. Reservations are required. Although most trips will only take you a few days from the highway, all campsites are back country; there are no facilities or services inside the park. Adults $12, seniors (age 60+) $9, youth (age 6-17) $5, disabled 50% of rate, children (age 5 and younger) free.
- 3 Frost Centre Area. The larger area, with 171 campsites accessed from the water, and 11 choices of access point. A small number of sites are accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles.
- 4 Poker Lake Area. Offers fewer campsites, but a quieter and more private experience one you've paddled away from the access point- some lakes and bays have only one campsite. Base camping is popular on Big East Lake.
- Haliburton Nordic Trails, ☏ . 3 ski areas with 36 km of ski trails, and another 16 km of trails at YMCA Wanakita. Permits are required. Adults $13, students (under 22, w/ID) $8, youth (7-18) $8, children (6 and under) free, family day pass $40.
- 5 Glebe Park: 13 km of classic & skate trails. 1.5-km lit loop for night skiing. intermediate to difficult. In the Village of Haliburton on Fleming College Drive.
- 6 Moosewoods: 13 km of classic & skate trails – easy to intermediate through picturesque forest terrain – large warming hut – on County Road #14 on the way to Eagle Lake.
- 7 Twin Lakes: 5 km of classic & skate trails – easy to intermediate – dog friendly. 4.25 km of snowshoe trails. 12 Mile Lake Road at Taylor Lake Rd off of Hwy #35, 5 km south of Carnarvon, 5 km north of Minden.
- YMCA Camp Wanakita: 16 km of intermediate, classic-only skiing.
- Haliburton Rail Trail. 36 km multi-use trail for bicycling, walking, snowmobiling between Kinmount and Haliburton. Trail surface: Gravel and cinders. Washrooms at 8 Donald and 9 Kinmount. Ritchie Falls is midway along the trail, along with a long trestle bridge appreciated by railway heritage enthusiasts. Only snowmobiling is allowed Dec-Mar (with a permit).
- 10 Silent Lake Provincial Park, 1589 Silent Lake Park Rd (Cardiff), ☏ , toll-free: . In the southeast corner of the county, Silent Lake focuses on outdoor sports and recreation in addition to car camping. The park is open year-round, with some headed cabin-style lodging, or winter tent camping for the seasoned adventurer. In summer, mountain biking trails are available (a moderately difficult 11 km (6.8 mi) loop, and a difficult 17 km (11 mi) loop), hiking trails range from short leisurely strolls, to a 15 km (9.3 mi) rugged trek through meadows, swamps and forest up to a scenic lookout. Canoes and kayaks can be rented from the park office, and launched from several points along the lake. Two sandy beaches provide swimming and picnic areas. In winter, several trails are groomed for cross-country skiing; the longest trail is 16.5 km (10.3 mi), and rated difficult. Snowshoes are permitted on some of the shorter trails and can be rented on-site. Warming huts and washrooms are available.
- 11 Minden Wild Water Preserve, 1870 Horseshoe Lake Rd, Minden Hills (7 km northeast of Minden on the Gull River via Horseshoe Lake Rd.). A natural canoeing and kayaking slalom facility in Minden that was used for the 2015 Pan American Games canoe slalom events. A 100-acre park with trails adjacent to whitewater rapids for kayaking and canoeing. 30 campsites with picnic tables and fire pits.
- 1 Robinson's General Store (Dorset General Store), 1061 Main St, Dorset (by the bridge on Main St), ☏ . Open daily. Hours vary by season. Includes a Home Hardware, Foodland Supermarket, the Drygoods gift shop, and the Red Onion boutique. The footwear section specializes in moccasins.
- 1 Kozy Korner Restaurant (Kozy's), 166 Highland St (Haliburton), ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-3PM, Su 7AM-3PM. Since 1935. Good food at good prices. Sandwiches $13.50-15.50, mains $13-34.
- 2 Mill Pond Restaurant, 15526 Hwy 35 (Carnarvon, Hwy 35, just north of Hwy 118), ☏ . W Th 8AM-3PM, F Sa Su 8AM-7PM. Known for their Mill burger and prime rib, homemade pies and tarts and breakfasts served late. Sandwiches from $5, Lunch from $12, Dinner from $18.
- 3 Pizza on Earth, 1009 Clan McKay Dr (south of Dorset, about 40 km east of Huntsville), ☏ . Summer: 11AM-8PM daily, May to September. An authentic thin crust Italian pizza baked in a traditional wood-fired brick oven while you watch. One can eat in a small, but beautiful garden. Seasonal. $15-19 (14", 8 slice takeaway pizza).
- 4 Rhubarb, 9201 Highway 118, (Carnarvon), ☏ . W-Su noon-8PM (dine-in after 5PM). Upscale casual dining in cottage country on the shores of Mirror Lake. Boshkung Brewing onsite. Mains from $22.
- 5 The Little Tart, 1035 Koshlong Lake Rd (Donald, 8 km south of Haliburton). Apr-May Sep-Oct: F Sa Su 10AM-4PM, Jun-Aug: W-Su 10AM-4PM (or until sold out). A tiny pastry shop in the town of Donald offering baked goods from "Ooey Gooey Butter Tarts" to Thanksgiving pumpkin pies. All of the baking is by hand, from scratch, on site.
- 6 Wintergreen Maple Syrup and Pancake Barn, 3325 Gelert Rd (Minden Hills), ☏ . March and April: Sa Su 9AM-4PM; M-F by phone appointment. A timber-framed barn selling foods and preserves produced on site. View the maple syrup operation through the glass wall of the La Sucrerie Restaurant which has a French Canadian menu inside a restored timber-framed barn. Offers tours of the sugar bush, and taffy-on-snow. Opens for various other weekends throughout the year for seasonal products and BBQs.
- 1 Boshkung Brewing Co, 9201 Hwy 118 (Carnarvon), ☏ . Th noon-6PM, F Sa noon-7PM, Su noon-5PM. Small brewery, with tasting room, growlers, and mini-kegs. Pizza and sharing plates.
- 2 Boshkung Social, 20 Water St (Downtown Minden), ☏ . Tu-Th noon-7PM, F Sa noon-8PM, Su noon-5PM. They also operate a pub with a large patio.
- 3 McKeck's Tap & Grill, 207 Highlands St (Haliburton), ☏ . Su 11:30AM-3PM, M-Th 11:30AM- 7:30PM, F Sa 11:30AM- 9PM. Nine draught taps, featuring local craft beer, an ample selection of wines and spirits, plus fresh-ingredient cocktails. Sandwiches and burgers $16-19, mains $22-26.
Many cottages, cabins, and small resorts are found throughout the county; some are right along the Highway 35 and 118 corridors, others are tucked further away from the beaten path on quiet old roads, closer to a lake or river. Oxtongue Lake is a popular spot for cottages, close to Highway 35, Algonquin Park, and towns in Muskoka. There are also a few small hotels/motels in the towns of Minden and Haliburton, for visitors who prefer having a few 'main street' amenities in walking distance.
- 1 Dominion Hotel, 113 Main St (Minden), ☏ . Small hotel with a few rooms above a bar and restaurant. Free Wi-Fi.
- 2 Firehouse Lodge, 1019 Nordic Inn Rd (Dorset), ☏ , email@example.com. Lodge with 10 rooms on a large property with recreation and BBQ areas.
- 3 Lakeview Motel, 4951 County Rd 21 (Haliburton), toll-free: . 14 guest rooms. Licensed dining room. Free wireless internet. Direct access to trails. Heated outdoor pool & hot tubs. Outdoor patio space & BBQs. Horseshoe pits. From $180.
- 4 Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre, 4252 County Rd 21, ☏ . 101 rooms, suites, villas and chalets; the Wind in the Willows Spa, and 18 holes of championship-level golf at Pinestone Golf Course. From $125.
- 5 Silver Maple Motel, 48 Highland St (Dysart et al), ☏ . Air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi, some rooms with lake views.
The Haliburton County Public Library provides free public Wi-Fi and computer access at 7 branches, including in Cardiff, Haliburton village, Minden, and Stanhope. Wi-Fi signal is typically available outside the buildings after hours.
- Kawarthas - A cottage country region that includes several towns along the Trent-Severn Waterway, including Peterborough, Bobcaygeon, and Fenelon Falls.
- Muskoka - Known as a somewhat busier cottage destination. Huntsville is in the north part of the region, west of Oxtongue Lake. Bracebridge is at the end Highway 118 further south, with waterfalls and a unique popular theme park. Lake of Bays is a community centered around one of Muskoka's larger lakes, near Dorset.
- Bancroft - the "mineral capital of Canada", east of Cardiff in the Ottawa Valley
|Routes through Haliburton Highlands|
|ENDS at ← Lake of Bays ←||N S||→ Fenelon Falls → Clarington|