McCrae Lake is one of my favourite getaway spots that doesn't require a 4-hour drive to get to. This hidden gem is about 45 minutes North of Barrie and is right off Hwy 400. I have included directions at the bottom of this post for those interested
McCrae Lake is host to amazing scenery, perfect swimming, good fishing (both pike and bass), and cliff jumping! There is lots to keep you busy for the weekend! I have highlighted some of the key features in the following video!
Launching your boat from McDonald Lake, there is a 10-minute paddle to get to the only portage which takes you into McCrae Lake. Portage is only about 350m but it is all uphill and downhill and can be a little slippery with lots of rain. It is not overly difficult, it’s just not your nice "flat and easy" portage.
It is good to know that if you are meeting friends who are already in McCrae Lake, you can actually take a path directly from the parking lot, to this first portage and meet them there (saves them the portage to come get you). You will see the trail on the left side of the parking lot when you are driving in and you will know you are at the portage when you get to the bridge.
The portage goes up and around a set of rapids and brings you into McCrae Lake. After a short (but very nice) paddle down a river you will get into the main part of the lake. There are many campsites on McCrae lake (although I have never actually counted) and they are all part of Ontario's crown land, meaning there is no reservation (or fees) required to stay here. Just show up! Only risk is that on long weekends this place can get pretty busy and your campsite selection may be limited. It is also good to know that there are also campsites on McDonald Lake, and I know some people choose to camp on the first portage.
Hwy 400 - Exit at Georgian Bay Rd - Loop around under the bridge and take the on-ramp to Hwy-400 South - Just on the left hand side of this on-ramp you will see an entrance to the parking lot
You can now find McCrae Lake Parking on google maps!