Ontario Parks is the largest provider of outdoor recreational opportunities in the province. Its provincial parks and conservations reserves:

  • have more than 12 million visits annually
  • provide significant spin-off benefits to local communities and the wider Ontario economy
  • are important protected natural areas that promote the importance of healthy, natural spaces
  • provide Ontarians with more ways to get outside and enjoy more time in nature

We are proposing to create the first new full-service, operating provincial park in 40 years at Bigwind Lake Provincial Park. This would provide new opportunities for recreational activities, camping, and tourism benefits to nearby communities.

Bigwind Lake Provincial Park

Bigwind Lake Provincial Park is a 4,860-acre (1,967-hectare) natural environment class park located approximately 20 km east of Bracebridge.

Photo of arerial shot of Crosson Lake

Aerial picture of Crosson Lake, one of five named lakes in Bigwind Lake Provincial Park.

The park protects:

  • upland forests of sugar maple, hemlock and yellow birch
  • low-lying swamps, marshes and meadows

The park is currently non-operating. This means it offers low-intensity, self-guided recreational opportunities such as nature appreciation and paddling. It does not have staffing or maintained facilities.

Management planning

To make the park operational, we are proposing to develop a new management plan for Bigwind Lake Provincial Park. The new management plan would:

The proposed management plan would include:

  • the creation of a purpose and vision for the park
  • zoning options to determine the location of facilities that support recreational activities, including overnight camping, hiking, paddling and cross-country skiing
  • direction for the development of:
    • a campground with approximately 250 campsites
    • up to 25 roofed accommodations (camp cabins)
    • up to 25 backcountry campsites
    • a visitor services hub to serve as a centre for day-use and recreational activities
    • a recreational trail system
    • support facilities such as an access road, comfort stations, water and waste treatment facilities and maintenance facilities
  • updates to park policies to protect important natural and cultural values, including species at risk and their habitats

If the proposed facilities are developed, the park would become operational. An operating park designation means that visitors will need permits to enter the park.

Photo of two female canoeist

Two canoeists enjoying at paddle in Bigwind Lake Provincial Park.

Boundary expansion

We are also proposing to expand the boundary of Bigwind Lake Provincial Park by approximately 775 acres (314 hectares), which would provide long-term protection and enhanced opportunities for recreational activities, such as hiking and backcountry camping. This proposed expansion would increase the size of the park by more than 15%.

Opportunities to provide feedback

We have engaged with Ontarians to hear what facilities and services are important to you, through an invitation to comment on the proposal on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, and an online survey.

The feedback we received helped Ontario Parks develop a preliminary management plan, which has been posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario for review and comment until May 4, 2024.

Our final management plan, which will guide park management over the next 20 years, will be refined to incorporate your input and new information as it becomes available. This will ensure that your input and evolving insights continue to shape the park's design and management.

The proposed boundary expansion is available on the Environmental Registry of Ontario for review and comment until May 4, 2024

If you are interested in receiving notices about the Bigwind Lake Provincial Park proposal, send an email to bigwindlakeprovincialpark@ontario.ca to be added to our mailing list.