I bet you’re wondering, as I was, what spelunking means. Is it the noise you make when bellyflopping into too shallow a lake? Is it a super cool move all the hipster kids are doing these days? And Warsaw Caves? Is that in Poland?
I found out last month in Peterborough, Ontario that spelunking is just another word for caving (though why they needed another name for this activity, I’ll never know). Here’s a look at what it’s like exploring the underground labyrinth of Warsaw Caves, which is in Canada, BTW, not Poland.
Warsaw Caves Conservation Area
You’ll find the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area about a half hour drive away from Peterborough, Ontario. The best part about spelunking in this neck of the woods is that it’s not hyper legislated like you’d find at a provincial or national park. There’s no forms to sign, no mandatory equipment, you just don a headlamp and get going.
The rock formations in this region are rich in geographical history. The caves are made up of these massive slabs of limestone bedrock that collapsed on each other during the last ice age.
It’s a true underground jungle gym, filled with dozen upon dozens of nooks and crannies to wedge yourself through. “There’s a million different ways to try and get around in here,” says campground operator Aaron Manser.
He was totally right. Just when you think you’re at a dead end, you only need to look up or sideways to find another crevice to squeeze through.
The caverns are vast and surreal. You’ll get dirty from crawling on your belly and contorting yourself in unusual positions to glide through the rock, but there’s nothing icky dripping from the ceiling and no water on the ground.
Oh, and no bats or other creatures to freak you out. You might, however, find the occasional can of beer, confirming this spot’s status for the high school set.
Seven caves are open to the public to explore, plus sink holes and underground drainage channels. Besides caving err spelunking, there are also 16 hiking trails.
Hiking in the Kawarthas
When you’re hiking in the Kawarthas region, you’ll find pretty trails that ramble over roots and large rocks flanked by a cedar forest. There’s even a rushing river that disappears.
This “disappearing river” goes down into the caves then reappears 150 feet later. Natural kettles (holes in roles formed by eddying currents of water bearing stones) are a haven for kids to play in.
This region is ideal for letting kids lose in. Bears aren’t common, but there are turtles, deer and even wild turkeys afoot.
The are also these ginormous limestone boulders kids can scramble over and explore. No restrictions means you can fish for perch to your heart’s content.
Warsaw Caves info
- Warsaw Caves was named after the area’s first postmaster who happened to be from Warsaw, New York. Note: This dude was not Polish.
- $12/car camping, $42 for a serviced site
- Day trips are $4.50/adult, $2.75/child
- Canoes can be rented for $11/hour or for a flat daily rate of $42
Have you ever gone Spelunking? Where did you go and what was your experience like?