Bon Echo Provincial Park: Abes & Essens Lake Trail (3 days / 17 km)

A tourist watching the beauty of Bon Echo Abes Essen Trail

The Abes and Essens Lake Trail is the only backpacking trail in Bon Echo Provincial Park and one of few in Eastern Ontario. A short drive from Kingston and Ottawa, this trail is a great option for local backpackers of all skill levels. 

The trail is made up of three interconnecting looped trails—Clutes (3.5 km), Essens Lake (9.6 km), and Abes (17 km) and is rated by Ontario Parks as moderate to difficult since day-hikers frequent the area. The first loop is clearly well-used as it is wide and well-groomed. Beyond this, many sections feel like bushwacking and are somewhat tricky to navigate, at least in the spring/early summer.

With 5 backcountry camping sites along the trail, it’s suitable for beginner backpackers with good fitness. In fact, this was my first ever backcountry camping trip! We took it slow, completing the trail as a 2-night trip. For more experienced backpackers, it’s totally doable with just one night of camping.

Trip Completed: June 2020

Trip Summary

Starting Point: Abes and Essens Trailhead Parking Lot

Ending Point: Abes and Essens Trailhead Parking Lot

Total Distance: 17 km

Elevation Gain: 282 m

Duration: 3 days / 2 nights. The trip could easily be completed in 2 days.

Difficulty: Beginner


The Abes & Essens Trail is located in Bon Echo Provincial Park in southeastern Ontario. Off Hwy 41, the nearest town is Cloyne—about an hour and a half from Kingston.

Traditional Territory: This route takes place on the traditional territory of Annishinabewaki and Omàmìwinìwag (Algonquin) (source). 

Maps & Resources

Guidebook: N/A

Map: Bon Echo Provincial Park and Area by Chrismar Mapping (Paper Map)

Campsite Reservations: Campsite bookings are made in advance through the Ontario Parks Online Reservation system. You reserve specific sites along the trail.

Permits: Upon arrival, permits are picked up at the entrance gate.

Outfitters & Shuttles

Outfitter: We didn...

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