Deacon Escarpment in Golden Lake: Exploration Guide

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Stop. The. Presses.

If you’re looking for a mini getaway, staying at the rustic-yet-modern cabins at Deacon Escarpment might be for you.  I say ‘might’ but really I mean are-you-insane-why-haven’t-you-booked-already?! They have 30 kms of trails, more wildlife that I could identify paw prints, and views that leave you full of gratitude.  All in less than 1.5hrs from the hustle and bustle of Ottawa. Kinda perfect right? Well it gets better…

The Low Down

  • Distance: An easy 169 kms (roughly 1hr 45mins) drive from downtown Ottawa.
  • Address: 12560 Highway 60, North Algona Wiberforce, ON K0J 1X0
  • Directions: Take the 417 West, continuing on the 17 West.  Take Highway 60 towards Renfrew. Continue following highway 60 through Douglas, Kelly’s Corner, and Eganville.  Drive past the town of Golden Lake until you see the sign for Deacon Escarpment on the right (heritage type barn and farm house).
  • Cellphone Range: Yes. In fact there is excellent reception.
  • Trail Distance: Up to 30kms to explore.
  • Elevation Gain: Unknown, there are steady inclines/declines throughout the trails.
  • Duration: Various trails offer various distances and time to explore.
  • Dogs: Check with owner directly.
  • Crowds: Privacy at it’s best with low to no interaction.
  • Washrooms: Outhouse at the parking lot, and options depending on which cabin is booked.
  • Entrance Fee: A day pass for hiking, snowshoeing, trail running is possible!
  • Season: Open year round.
  • More Information:  Visit Deacon Escarpment for trail map and booking options.
deacon escarpment

In Good Company

Somehow one of my favourite hiking buddies and I ended up with the same free weekend! Which rarely happens. Oh the “busy” lives us city folks have! Of course that’s a rant for another day and really, neither Davianna nor I are much for the city. We love the outdoors which is what made us fast friends in nursing school! We’ve already hiked Lauriault trail and Oiseau Rock together and bigger adventures are on the horizon. So seizing the opportunity but having no real idea on where to go next, I stumbled on Deacon Escarpment. Huh, this place looks cool. And there’s hiking. So ya, I booked!

After experiencing Deacon escarpment with Davianna, we traveled to Norway together on an epic trip.

Aaaaand I’ve returned to Deacon Escarpment a few times, including with Carolyn from Wander. Ramble. Roam. Carolyn is the new up and coming travel site. She had a ton of international travel and international living experience and a love for travel planning. WANDER RAMBLE ROAM is focusing on weekend getaways locally right now, and develops itineraries to help guide your travels!⁠

What to bring

Besides the 10 essentials and what I would normally suggest for hikes, here are the highlights for this particular outdoor adventure:

  • Water: All the drinking water you’ll need and extra snacks on top of your meals.
  • Poles and/or microspikes: The winter trail gets packed and slippery at spots, highly recommend micro spikes and/or poles for grip and balance. Snowshoes during the winter months and going into April.
  • Slippers, crocks, or fuzzy socks: Don’t laugh, it’s nice to have warm dry feet while in the cabin or even to enjoy watching the sunset from the deck.
deacon escarpment

Deacon Escarpment Trails

The 30 kms worth of trails are colour coded and a lamented map is available either at the entrance (main parking lot) or in your cabin.  It is worth noting that the trails are well marked, but from one direction only. The main trails are well maintained as they’re the same trails that the shuttle uses. The smaller trails are still well marked, just more appropriately narrow.

Most of the trails have some good inclines to them, so if you’re looking for a good workout this is your chance. If not, slow and steady wins the race. I certainly enjoyed having poles for the trek in from the parking to the cabin (carrying my own gear), since it was a steady incline. The goods news? a) there were tons of animal tracks along the trail to spark curious minds and b) a steady incline to the cabin meant that going home on Sunday was an easy stroll down!

Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Always bring a day pack with first kit, cellphone (excellent reception), snacks, and water at a minimum.
  • Bring the map. 🙂
  • The owners were extremely quick to thoroughly reply to our emails, so if you have questions about hiking these trails – just ask.

Deacon Escarpment Lookout

There is a lookout (I mean, each cabin has it’s own great view really) right between the trackers Cabin and the Sarah Leslie Cabin. It offers up a full view of the valley and golden lake, and a picnic table to rest and enjoy the view from.

There is also Rattray’s Lake and you can get there by either following the red or grey trails.  We chose the grey, and apparently in April you should bring snowshoes for these lesser trafficked trails because it was deep! Like up-to-our-knees deep. Made for some hilarious moments during our hike and a lot of unintentional pistol squats while trying get up. I mean really, how do crossfitters do it?! My legs are jello.

Deacon Escarpment Cabins

Dear Zac and Steph, can we be BFFs?! As owner’s of Deacon Escarpment, Zac and Steph have seemingly thought of everything. The cabins are rustic in nature (eco friendly, solar powered, outhouses) yet incredibly modern (lights, fireplace, charging station, stylish).  Then you have the twinkle lights, map of the stars, and binoculars…it’s all the little things that really add up to make this one of the best accommodation experiences I’ve had in a long while.

When you go through the booking online, there are the options of cookware/dishes, firewood, and having your bags/equipment shuttled up for you. In the winter, parking is at the main lot and you hike the 1.3 to 1.7 kms to your cabin. In the summer, there’s the option of driving to a nearer lot (600m min from cabins).

There are grills by the fire pit for cooking and a BBQ on the cabin deck which worked out well for us, although we did most of the cooking over the fire having the side element on the BBQ was great for boiling the kettle for much beloved coffee.  Speaking of coffee, there was a sweet welcome package waiting for us on arrival! It had Maple Roast Madawaska Coffee and two homemade butter tarts by the Cottage Cup (located in Golden lake).  Well then, keep that up and we’ll return often!

Nearby Hikes and Points of Interest

Deacon Escarpment is conveniently located at the heart of all our favourite things. Historical points of interest, beaches, hiking trails, waterfalls, caves, and shops.

Here are a few…

Ryan’s Mountain: aka the old CFS Foymont with has long been abadonned by the military. The building are mostly in ruin, yet a few remain in operation. It it the highest populated point in Ontario, and often mistaken as the highest point period. However that bragging right belongs to Ishpatina Ridge near Sudbury at 653m.

LetterKenny Road: For all you LetterKenny fans out there, there’s a road with the same name to snap a picture with. There’s also a nice little beach at Gorman Lake to enjoy a swim.

Fourth Chute Falls: co-located with Bonnechere caves, fourth chute falls is the perfect spot to stop for a picnic. There is a parklot at the top of the falls, but if you cross the road (same side of the road as bonnechere caves) and head down the trail, you’ll be bless with an impressive view.

Shaw Woods Education Centre: has multiple trails to explore along with one nicely built lookout over the lake on the east side trails. Although there are multiple trails, they are relatively short and easier to hike.

Bonnechere Provincial Park: take a drive up to hike Bonnechere PP, where they have the popular Egg Rock lookout.

I Love You a Latte

Fifth Chute Coffee

I’m not quite sure what voodoo they use to make their daily delicious-out-of-this-world hand pies, but dear Fifth Chute Coffee you do it right! This new (very insta worthy) coffee shop is in Eganville, and a great stop on your way in to Deacon Escarpment.

More #winning – they are coffee snobs my darlings, serving only the best of the best that the area has to offer including Ottawa’s own Little Victories.  We had a latte, and loved it a latte.

Thanks to the incredible owner, Hilary, hard copies the ‘A 2020 Guide to Hiking Trails in Ottawa & Region’ are being sold at Fifth Chute!

The Cottage Cup

I distinctly remember biting into a The Cottage Cup butter tart and thinking, that’s it, I’ll have a dozen to go please. They are that. good. Again, what is with the food in this area, everything just tastes better!

The Cottage Cup it right off Hwy 60 in the centre of Golden Lake. You can’t miss it with it’s bright red roof acting a a beacon from down the road. They have great coffee, large tea selection, prepped food to take out, a full range of Hatley clothing and gifts, and a chip truck and icecream selection that has us all coming back.

Be forewarned, a small fry order is actually pretty big and shareable! I mean, if you’re into sharing. If not, carry on… 🙂

The owner Amanda, is as kind as they come! Even listening to me ramble on about seeing a black cougar in the area, how enjoyable Deacon Escarpment is, and local hiking adventures.

Wrapping It Up

This weekend was a bit of a surprise in the best of ways.  The weather was great, the accommodations spot on, and we hiked so much on Saturday and I had a hard time driving home today between my legs shaking and the need for naps. #freshairdoesthebodygood  No rest for the wicked though, camping gear is already away, laundry done, and this post written so that great valley finds can be shared!

Whether you are looking to hone your camping skills (there are camp sites available), need a romantic weekend, or looking for the perfect getaway with friends, this very affordable and close to home option would be my first recommendation. Have a wonderful week, be gracious and stay wild.

Victoria xo

Author’s note: This post was originally published in April 2019 and then updated in June 2020.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Glenn Robinson

    Just discovered your blog. Really great. I am always looking for new trails, near and far, as well as lakes to put in my kayak. I might even have a few suggestions for you! I ordered the book too. A friend , who I hike with, has a cottage near Round Lake, so I have passed the Deacon Trails many times…but without stopping. Next time, I will stop. Thank you.

    1. GirlGoneGood

      Glenn! Thank you for the kind compliment, it’s appreciated. You’ll have plenty of trails to explore with the new guide and Deacon Escarpment is certainly a favourite. You can even hike done to the private lake and enjoy a canoe (provided). And then there are other nearby gems, and don’t forgot to fuel up at Cottage Coffee! Waterways for canoe/kayak/SUP will be added to next years addition thanks to everyone’s feedback. I’d love to hear your suggestions, please email me at victoria@girlgonegood.com

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