Petroglyphs Provincial Park – the complete travel guide

This sacred spiritual location has the largest collection of petroglyphs in North America


Petroglyphs Provincial Park is a unique place of significant historical importance, especially to aboriginal peoples as it contains the largest collection of ancient rock carvings (petroglyphs) not only in the province but in all of North America.

Located deep in the thick forest Ancient First Nations people carved the roughly 900 depictions in a single large white marble outcropping between an estimated 600 to 3500 years ago. Forgotten for centuries they were rediscovered accidently by miners in 1954 and have once again become a sacred and spiritual pilgrimage site for the local Ojibwe inhabitants.

Proclaimed a National Historic Site of Canada in 1976, local aboriginals believe that this is an entrance into the spirit world and that the Spirits actually speak to them from this location. They call it “Kinoomaagewaapkong” which translates to “the rocks that teach”.

The rock art depicts various objects and creatures such as: turtles, snakes, boats, birds and humans depicted doing everyday activities. The main collection of petroglyphs has been enclosed by a glass structure to prevent further degradation from the elements such as acid rain and frost to ensure their continued survival.

Cared for by the local Curve Lake First Nation they take great pride in maintaining the park and it has become a very significant part of their spiritual beliefs. The sounds emitted by the wind and rain as it passes though the rocks is interpreted as the Spirits speaking.


Location of Petroglyphs Provincial Park

Getting to the park:

The only option of reaching the park is by car as there is no plane, train transport options available. Public transport is limited to the following:

By Bus:

There is no direct bus service to Petroglyphs Provincial Park but you can get very close. Three of the largest bus services have regular scheduled routes to the nearby City of Peterborough.

Once in Peterborough Greyhound Canada does provide limited service to the small community of Woodview just outside the park. Once there you can complete the journey with a short hike. I would contact Greyhound Canada for further information.

By Rail

Rail travel to Petroglyphs Provincial Park is not an option.

By Air:

Air travel to Petroglyphs Provincial Park is not really an option.

By Car:

Depending upon where your starting point is the following routes are available:

Coming from Northern Ontario:

  • Navigate to Huntsville then take Highway #35 South towards Lindsay
  • Follow until reaching Highway #118 East towards Bancroft
  • Turn right on County Road #48 (Dyno Road), at Highway # 28 continue south towards Woodview
  • In Woodview take Regional Road #56 (Northeys Bay Road) to the parks entrance

From Eastern Ontario:

  • Take Highway 401 West towards Toronto. At Belleville take Highway #62 towards Marmora
  • In Foxboro take County Road #14 (Foxboro Stirling Road) towards Marmora
  • In Marmora take Highway #7 West towards Havelock. In Havelock turn right onto County Road 44/46
  • The road splits north of Havelock so continue on County Road # 44 and it eventually turns into Regional Road #56 (Northeys Bay Road) just before the parks entrance

From Southern Ontario:

  • Take Highway 401 East
  • At Clarington take Highway #35/115 North towards Peterborough
  • Continue on Highway #115 and in Peterborough turn right onto Highway #7 East towards Ottawa
  • Turn left onto Highway #28 towards Bancroft. Turn right on Regional Road #56 (Northeys Bay Road) to the parks entrance

Activities at Petroglyphs Provincial Park:

As the park has been designated a historical park and is limited to day use only the limited additional activities are mainly wildlife viewing and hiking. Its location at the edge of the Canadian Shield and bordering the Peterborough Crown Game Reserve provides for some dramatic scenery and includes large populations of indigenous animals such as:

  • Beaver
  • Otter
  • White-tailed deer
  • Chipmunks
  • Squirrels
  • Fishers
  • Wolves (rare)

Many species of birds are to be spotted including:

  • Woodpeckers
  • Grey Jays
  • Wild Turkeys
  • Hawks
  • Warblers
  • Northern Flickers
  • Ruffled Grouse
  • Bald and Golden Eagles can sometimes be spotted in the winter months


Well-marked hiking trails traverse their way through forests, wetlands and past rocky ridges. Each trail provides for some beautiful visuals of the rugged Canadian Shield and make for a good outing. The following are the hiking trails located in Petroglyphs Provincial Park:

Nanabush Trail

At 5.5 kilometres (3.3 miles) in length this is the longest trail in the park but it is very easy to complete and passes through a variety of terrains. Expected completion time: 90 minutes.

Ratarat Trail

The shortest trail in the park it is also probably the most well used due to its convenient location near the picnic area. At only 1 kilometre (.6 miles) in length it is of moderate difficulty and takes very little time to complete but it does pass through some dense forest and skirts the shores of beautiful McGinnis Lake. The picnic area makes for a great place to take a break and enjoy a relaxing lunch among the sereneness of the Canadian wilderness.

Marsh Trail:

The longest trail in the park at 7 kilometres (4.2 miles) it is of moderate difficulty as it does include some fairly steep sections as it winds its way through forests, uplands and as the name entails, marshy wetlands. For those with plenty of time and wishing to see the beauty of the rugged Canadian Shield and hopefully catch a glimpse of the many species of wildlife to be found in the area. Expect to take 2 -3 hours to complete.

West Day-Use Trail:

Another trail displaying the beauty of Canada’s near north it is 5 kilometers (3 miles in length and is of moderate difficulty. Passing through dense forests of oak, birch and pine it makes for a great location for spotting the various wildlife to be found within the park’s borders and takes approximately 90 minutes to complete.


Cycling is a limited activity as bikes are allowed on the park roads but not on the hiking trails (this includes mountain bikes).


Petroglyphs Provincial Park is located 55 kilometres (33 miles) northeast of Peterborough just outside the small hamlet of Woodview at 2249 Northey’s Bay Road and is a very short distance from the nearby Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park. It is open until Thanksgiving daily from 10 a.m. to 5pm except for Mondays and Tuesdays in the spring and fall.

It is a little known park both internationally and also among Canadians and Ontarians themselves and is a quiet and little visited destination somewhat befitting its status as a sacred spot amongst the local First Nations tribes yet the petroglyphs themselves are historically significant and unique within Ontario’s borders.

The parks location in the heart of the Kawartha’s, one on the province’ premier tourist destinations, makes it easily accessible and in time I believe its significance will increase its popularity. A trip through the park should take no longer than half a day or so and it makes for a great stop for those on their way to one of the more popular destinations in the area or for those spending a little more time in the Peterborough region.

Please note however that you must arrive before 3:30 PM or you will not have enough time to reach the petroglyphs due to the distance of the site from the entrance.

Please note that photography of the rocks is not permitted, as they are considered quite sacred.

For more information on Petroglyphs Provincial Park such as opening times and entrance fees visit its official site at: Petroglyphs


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