Are you looking for a fun and adventurous day trip with the family near Toronto? A little unknown place called Warsaw Caves is definitely a place to check out! Camping, canoeing, hiking and caving all in one spot about 25 minutes Northeast of Peterborough. I can’t believe it took me so long to discover this gem! And the absolute best part… THE CAVES!
Warsaw Caves: Canoeing
You can spend a whole day paddling down the placid Indian River with its beautiful scenery. On our first trip we leisurely canoed out to the village of Warsaw for a picnic lunch and then canoed back to the campground. It takes about 2 hours there and 2 hours back. For most of the trip we were completely alone. Occasionally we would pass another canoer and as we got closer to the village there are homes along the river, but if you are looking for quiet and solitude, this little trip definitely provided that for us.
If you don’t have a canoe there are rentals available per hour or per day at fair rates. I would recommend bringing your own life jackets if you have some though. Theirs were quite musty and stained.
Warsaw Caves: Hiking
We have not had a chance to check out the trails personally yet, but it is definitely on the list for this coming spring! Make sure you follow this post so you will be notified when I update with my expanded review. The description below has been pulled from the Warsaw Caves website.
“There’s more than caves for hikers to enjoy at Warsaw Caves. You’ll also find 15 km of trail that meanders through forests and across a limestone plain. Visit the lookout and enjoy a great view down the gorge of Indian River. There’s potholes and kettles and a disappearing river. Through the seasons you can see a wide variety of wildflowers and take in the colours of the fall.”
Download a copy of the trail map to guide you on your way to all the sights the park has to offer.
Warsaw Caves: Camping
There are 52 unserviced campsites available with access to flush toilets, showers, laundry and a dish washing station. The sites are well maintained and well forested so you are not camping out in the open. Camping is available from mid-may to Thanksgiving every year. Check out their campground map for more information.
Warsaw Caves: THE CAVES
If all of the reasons above weren’t enough convince you to check out this conservation area, then the caves will definitely change your mind! I can’t tell enough people about how amazing this experience is! Warsaw Caves boasts a series of 7 caves which were formed thousands of years ago at the end of the last ice age by the rushing melt waters of a glacier that covered Ontario.
These are not your grandma’s caves where you can walk in tall on a smooth dirt floor, look for a second and move on to the next. They are not exaggerating when they say you need a flashlight (or preferably a headlamp – which can be purchased at the gatehouse) and to wear durable clothes. You will be crawling on your knees, scrambling up rock, traversing cracks and slithering on your stomach (aka spelunking).
These are not your grandma’s caves!
We took our 4-year-old and 2-year-old and they absolutely loved it! We only crawled around the front cavities of each of the caves; we are saving the more in-depth exploring for later when the kids are a little older (yet another reason to come back!). Some of the caves are connected so it would be lots of fun trying to find new routes!
In an age where it seems that any adventurous activity requires one to be strapped from head to foot in pillows or other protective gear with someone telling you where you can and cannot go, it was refreshing to experience real caves without all the safety encumbrances and supervision normally forced on you. I’m not saying this activity is unsafe but it is your responsibility to be careful.
I often went in first and Mr. D would lower the kids in as I would help bring them the rest of the way. Once we were in, we took turns with the headlamp and I primarily used a flashlight app on my phone (definitely not ideal). We also brought our large day-pack with us. It was way too cumbersome while maneuvering in the cave. Next time I will leave it in the car as the parking lot is only a short 5 min walk from the caves.
Learn more about the caves and plan your adventure by downloading their Spelunkers Guide to the Caves.
According to Amanda… The verdict is:
I will be planning a camping trip here next summer! There is so much to do to easily fill up 3 or more days! But even if you aren’t able to spare that much time, Warsaw Caves is an amazing day-trip spot located not far outside of Toronto.