Rice Lake is one of the southernmost bodies of water in the series of lakes included in the Trent River system. It is also one of the most picturesque areas in the Kawarthas and a popular year-round destination for tourists and locals alike. It’s only an hour and a half from Toronto and less than 25 km from Peterborough, making it easily accessible to both day trippers and long-term holidaymakers.
The densely-treed shoreline of this beautiful lake provides a majestic backdrop against the vast expanse of sparkling clean water. Surrounded by farmland, Rice Lake and its adjoining lands have a fascinating geographical and cultural history in addition to the spectacular views.
Formed when a glacier receded from southern Ontario, the lake contains 20 islands, or “drumlins”, which are mounds of compacted boulder clay molded by the glacial action. On the north shore of the lake sits Serpent Mounds Park, an ancient burial ground owned by Hiawatha First Nation. As the name suggests, the lake once provided rice crops for the inhabitants and it was at Serpent Mounds that archaeologists found evidence of settlements by ancient Native peoples dating back to 58 B.C. The Aboriginal people harvested wild rice, camped, fished, hunted, and collected freshwater mussels at that site.
Rice Lake is a shallow lake with a maximum depth of 27 feet and is generally thought of as being Ontario’s #1 spot for fishing. Each year the Rice Lake Tourist Association hosts a Big Fish Contest for fun, and for serious anglers there are annual tournaments held on the lake as well. The lake boasts a variety of different species with an abundance of Bass, Walleye, Muskie, Bluegill, and Panfish.
In the 1800s a railway bridge was built across the lake, however, ice damage caused the bridge to be abandoned in 1862 after only 6 years of use. Sections of the railway bed are still clearly visible on the lake, offering a unique fishing experience. Rice Lake boasts numerous trailer parks, resorts, and campsites dotted up and down both sides of its shoreline and provides many opportunities for both relaxation and adventure. The surrounding area is also home to over 30 golf courses.
Art lovers will enjoy a visit to nearby Zim Art’s Rice Lake Gallery, featuring beautiful stone sculptures by Zimbabwean artists which are displayed outdoors overlooking the lake. Also fairly close to the lake is Lang Pioneer Village, the living history museum which hosts many exciting and educational events for the entire family year-round.
Elmhirst’s Resort provides sightseeing flights over the Kawartha Lakes offering an ideal vantage point from which to view the lake. Rent a boat from one of the many marinas on the lake or take a trek on horseback through the Ganaraska forest. Surrounding forests and provincial parks provide a network of trails for hiking and cycling.
Rich in opportunities for exploration by land, air, or water, Rice Lake is one of the true gems of the Kawarthas.