As the month of November arrives, we collectively look to and commemorate the memory of those whose combined courage, service and sacrifice secured the freedom and way of life that we enjoy today. [Read more…]
What a whirlwind month! When I was first approached to travel through The Great Waterway with the ‘On the Way’ team, I knew this would be a rare and unique opportunity. After 32 days of amazing moments, wonderful adventures and awesome food, I have no regrets, it was truly incredible.
For 32 days we hit the road and explored the regions of The Great Waterway, which include; The Bay of Quinte, Prince Edward County, Land O’Lakes, Rideau Heritage Route, Kingston 1000 Islands, Gananoque 1000 Islands, Brockville 1000 Islands, and Cornwall and the Counties. As a pretty seasoned traveller, if I’m not on an adventure, I’m planning one. For example, right before this trip, I was lucky enough to go to Iceland, then head to Vancouver for a few weeks. Now, after exploring The Great Waterway, I realize how much diversity we have right here in South Eastern Ontario. Now I don’t have to go far to discover tons of great things! I’m going to continue travelling through this part of Ontario, whether it’s hiking through Rock Dunder, taking a cruise through 1000 Islands, visiting breweries and vineyards; there’s so much to do and see right in our own backyard.
Here are some of my favourite stops along the Great Waterway:
Prince Edward County
Visiting Prince Edward County was a great way to kick off this campaign. This region is up and coming, with so many great things to see and do. A trip to The County can include everything from touring breweries and vineyards to seeing local artisans work to visiting quaint shops and so much more. With so many experiences to try, travellers are sure to find something that interests them, whether it’s adventure, relaxation or even a new hobby! While there, we were able to participate in many activities and one of my fondest memories was our visit to Parsons Brewing Company. The food was fantastic and the beer was delicious. We even had the incredible opportunity to talk with the owners about their inspiration behind the beer and brewery. Ever since visiting Parsons, I’ve been following them on Instagram and can’t wait to take a trip back.
Bay of Quinte
Admittedly, I had no idea how many things this region has to offer until stopping here – we had so much fun! First there was the incredible adrenaline rush that we had kayaking through in the region with Twiggy of Cruising Canoes and then wakeboarding for the first time at Trenchtown Wake Park. This region also had the cutest coffee shop called The Brake Room, which is also a bike shop. The coffee was great and the vibe was even better. While in Belleville, I had the best Indian food I’ve ever had in Ontario, at the Royal Haveli. The Bay of Quinte should definitely be a stop for any adventurer in South Eastern Ontario.
Ah, Land O’Lakes, our location where weather was not on our side. There were many stops on this trip that had to get rescheduled due to wet weather and unfortunately this happened a lot in this region. We were able to have a quick stop on Wolfe Island before the rain hit and I’m excited to go back to explore it more for myself. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. It’s one of my favourite breweries, so this was an incredible experience! While there we were able to see the farm and taste some of their delicious beer. Luckily, in September, we will be back in this region for the #OnTheWay campaign, so check in then to catch all the things we will be exploring!
Kingston 1000 Islands
My oh my, exploring Kingston was a real treat. As a resident of Kingston, I find that many people often take the beautiful architecture and history of Kingston for granted. Having the opportunity to travel through Kingston like a tourist opened my eyes to a lot that Kingston has to offer. We were able to visit the Kingston Pen, which has been on my list of places that I wanted to visit. The architecture and history is absolutely incredible. If you haven’t visited the Pen yet, drop everything you’re doing and book a tour now!
The Kingston Food Tour was also a great experience and allowed us to taste food at many different locations in Kingston. The food was great but what I really appreciated, was learning about how many restaurants in Kingston use local suppliers for food.
Gananoque 1000 Islands
In this stunning region, we were able to explore by land, water and sky. We started by touring the area from above with 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours – so amazing! Then we saw the region by kayaking on the water. 1000 Islands Kayaking Co. made sure we had everything we needed to have a fantastic time paddling. We also spent time exploring the waterfront and driving through the area. It was incredible to see how beautiful this region is from every angle. Many people travel to waterfront properties and beaches in different countries, but Ontarians should definitely be spending their time here instead. The 1000 Islands is one of the most beautiful places on earth and there are so many fun things to do!
Brockville 1000 Islands & Rockport
This is the region where we finally had the opportunity to visit Boldt Castle! After hearing so much about it and seeing it from the sky, it was amazing to finally be able to set foot in this majestic castle. The castle and the island have an interesting history that includes a love story that’s both tragic and beautiful, read about it here.
One of the most thrilling parts of our entire trip was being able to visit Skywood Eco Adventure Park. Here, we navigated through the treetops on a series of adventure courses that included ropes and zip lines. It was a fun challenge and I definitely want to go back to try the expert course one day!
In Brockville, we were able to get a sneak peek of the Railroad Tunnel, which is an incredible location and is now open to the public!
Rideau Heritage Route
The best way to describe this region of Ontario is by comparing it to a remote oasis. Filled with beautiful small towns and peaceful nature, it’s the perfect destination if you want to spend some time outside. Rock Dunder, which recently became a popular go-to spot because of numerous posts on Instagram, is a great spot to hike and see awesome water views. If you’re a fan of cliff jumping, there’s a great spot to do this at Rock Dunder.
Another great spot here is Jones Falls; I’m a huge fan of history, so I loved that local historical interpreters teach visitors about the area. There are many areas to explore in this region, making it a fun adventure for all ages!
And last, but certainly not least…
Cornwall and The Counties
I just need to start off by saying I dream about the poutine we had in Cornwall, I even wrote about it in the blog for that region. Needless to say, it was the best poutine I’ve ever had and totally worth a visit to Cornwall to try it at Sheep Head’s Bistro.
Being a penchant for history, I loved that we were able to visit the Historic Cornwall Jail. It was interesting to learn about the prisoners and executions that took place there. Another wonderful spot to visit and learn about history is Upper Canada Village. Plus it’s always a fun time for any age group!
So there you have it. 32 days travelling with someone who I didn’t know at all beforehand and it was a total blast! Now, I tell everyone how amazing this region is and I totally recommend traveling here. Before booking your next trip anywhere else, consider making this region your destination location. There’s so much to do, so many great people to meet, local food to taste, and so much more! Follow The Great Waterway on Instagram to see what all this region has to offer!
In the coming months, our full video adventure will be released. Be sure to check back soon!
South Eastern Ontario is a world famous destination for summer escapes. Places where you take your family, or friends to do away with the trifles of urban existence. You know what I’m talking about. That place where you can kick back, unwind, and be immersed in pure tranquillity. [Read more…]
Tents, sleeping bags, S’mores, and freaky ghost stories by a crackling fire. They’re all synonymous with a cultural phenomenon that has lasted centuries. Well, maybe it’s more like several millennia. [Read more…]
Go on, dig out those hiking shoes. The warmer temps are here to stay, and you’ve got more tracks than ever to choose from across The Great Waterway. Seriously, take your pick: easy strolls along old rail lines, moderate paths around big sand dunes, difficult routes up the Canadian Shield. Whether you’re an amateur stroller or pro hike head, there’s a trail for you out there. Here are 10 of the best, from west to east. (Photo: The Great Waterway)
1. Trans-Canada Trail: Corbyville to Stirling
Length: 25 km (or less)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
The Grand Junction Railway once ran from Belleville to Peterborough, but now it’s part of the multi-use Trans-Canada Trail. This stretch begins in Corbyville, a hamlet just north of Belleville that was once a booming distillery town. From the path, you can still see remnants of Corby Distilleries in old water towers, cement buildings, and rusted pipes and equipment. After Corbyville, the trail heads northwest for 15 km, mostly through farmlands, until Madoc Junction, where it splits and goes 25 km northeast to Madoc or 10 km west to Stirling. Since the trail is on a rail line, it’s easy on the body. tctontario.ca; thetrail.ca (Photo: Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance)
2. Sandbanks Provincial Park: Dunes Trail
Length: 2.5 km
Get up close to the world’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation at Prince Edward County’s renowned provincial park. On this short loop, you’ll travel through a rare and fragile dune habitat and along the edge of several small wetlands. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for some of the 240 bird species that have been observed here, including woodpeckers, orioles, black turns and blue jays. Watch out for reptiles and amphibians, too, like several harmless types of snakes and the rare musk turtle. Want the most informed adventure through the Dunes Trail? Consider a guided hike from a naturalist in the summer. ontarioparks.com (Photo: Eric Parker/FlickrCC)
3. Frontenac Provincial Park: Slide Lake Loop
Length: 21 km
This rugged hike in the most remote area of Frontenac Park isn’t for the faint-hearted, but the rewards for the willing speak for themselves: a series of waterfalls dropping 16 metres, barren rock ridges overlooking the surrounding landscape, a gorge crossing, and multiple lakes almost all to yourself. The trail also passes through forests, by marshes, and up and around Canadian Shield granite as it follows Buck Lake, Slide Lake, Doe Lake and Big Salmon Lake. Stop for panoramic views and pics of Mink and Camel Lakes, but remember that there’s only so much daylight: give yourself 7 to 9 hours to enjoy this challenge. frontenacpark.ca (Photo: Bobcat North/Flickr CC)
4. Hell Holes Nature Trails & Caves
Length: 3.2 km
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Millions of years ago, the Salmon River flowed through this area about a half hour from Kingston, carving the limestone into overhanging ledges, mushroom-shaped rocks, caves, gullies, potholes and sinkholes. It’s one of the most unique geological areas in Eastern Ontario, and because it’s now empty of water, you can hike it. Your journey will take you over a natural stone bridge, through a mini rainforest, across a gorge and, for the truly adventurous, down into “Hell Hole Cave,” which requires a 7.5-metre descent and a flashlight. When you’re done, play a round of mini golf or fuel up in the Log Cabin Snack Bar. ruralroutes.com/hellholes (Photo: The Great Waterway)
5. Cataraqui Trail
Length: 104 km (or less)
With 48 access points along a former Canadian National Railway line between Strathcona and Smiths Falls, the Cat Trail gives hikers the most diverse cross-section of The Great Waterway’s natural environment. From Smiths Falls to Chaffey’s Lock (42 km), it’s flat farmland and woods, but after, near Sydenham Lake, it passes along the Frontenac Axis of the Canadian Shield. The trail then goes through or around big lakes, swamps, hilly forests, and pink granite. Like it started, the last 40 kilometres are flat farmland, an area called the Napanee Plain. The terrain rarely gets very steep, and for most of the 100-plus kilometres the path has a gravel surface. cataraquitrail.ca (Photo: The Great Waterway)
6. K&P Trail
Length: 15 km
Once part of a rail line for steam trains, this track is now for non-motorized travellers. Hop on and off at six different access points, all within Kingston’s city limits. At one end is Little Catarqui Creek Conservation Area; at the other are vistas of the Glenvale Creek Wetland. In between, you’ll pass through meadows, farmlands, forests, rock cuts, marshes and plenty of stops of interest, including the site of the old Glenvale train station on the K&P line. Pack a lunch, and do the whole 15 kilometres in a day. Just keep in mind that this isn’t a looped trail, so have a ride waiting when you get to the end. cityofkingston.ca (Photo: Jordan Whitehouse)
7. Rideau Trail
Length: 327 km (or less)
Difficulty: Easy to difficult
This Ontari-famous hikers’ haven runs along the Rideau Canal and its tributaries from Kingston in the south to Ottawa in the north. Most complete the trail in sections (access points are dotted all along), but some do it all in about 9 to 16 days. Either way, you’ll be treated to the full range of the Rideau’s ecosystem, complete with farmlands, quaint villages and, of course, the hum of that historic waterway never far away. The elevation gain is only about 600 metres (2000 feet), and although some sections are flat and easy, parts of the trail are difficult, some may even requiring bushwhacking. rideautrail.org (Photo: Gordon Bell/FlickrCC)
8. Rock Dunder: Summit Loop
Length: 3.9 km
Pink granite formations like Rock Dunder are what remain from the Grenville Mountains, which towered over this area just south of Morton about a billion years ago. Rising 275 feet from Morton Creek, all of Rock Dunder’s 230 acres were once a wilderness Boy Scout camp. Now the area is open to the public and has three trails: one easy (1.3 km), one moderate (2 km), one more difficult. Take the last, the Summit Loop, if you can handle a short, steep climb. The trail runs alongside Dean’s Island, through thick forest and offers sneak peaks of the grand finale: a summit atop rocky cliffs overlooking the Rideau and beyond. rwlt.org (Photo: Frontenac Arch Biosphere)
9. Thousand Islands National Park: Jones Creek Trails
Length: 12 km
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
It’s those ecologically stunning islands that get most of the attention in the Thousand Islands region, of course, but don’t forget about the thick forests and all of that diverse wildlife on the nearby mainland. Get a glimpse at this 12-kilometre trail network within Thousand Islands National park, established in 1904 as the first national park east of the Rockies. There are nine different trails here, each between 0.7 km and 3.9 km in length. You’ll be taken from pine ridges to birch lowlands, and from creeks and wetland boardwalks to forests dramatically changed by beavers. Keep your eye out for rare species like the Black Rat snake and the Least Bittern bird. pc.gc.ca (Photo: Seyemon/FlickrCC)
10. Glengarry Trails
Length: 15 km
The four trails that make up this network and bird-waters’ refuge are found just east of Alexandria on the Gary River watershed. The 3 km Red Trail starts at Island Park and features hardwood and cedar forests, along with chickadees you can feed in the winter. Between it and the 3 km Orange and 2 km Purple loops is the Green Trail, a 5 km straight line that passes through wetlands and forests. Throughout the property are boardwalks, small bridges and interpretive signs, all built by The Friends of Glengarry Trails Association. glengarrytrails.com (Photo: Friends of Glengarry Trails Association)