Hiking in Frontenac Provincial Park this weekend was awesome is the truest sense of the word. I was in awe and grinning so much that my cheeks hurt as much as my legs and that is the sign of pure joy in my books! Have you ever been to Frontenac Provincial Park in the spring? The wildlife is alive – I mean straight out of a children’s fairytale kind of alive…
(my ego also eat a piece of humble pie, so here we go…)
The low down
- Distance from Ottawa: 229 kms (roughly 2hr and 20mins) via the 416/401 or 192 kms (roughly 2hr and 29mins) if you take the country roads.
- Best route: Depending on your preference you can take hwy417 west to hwy 416 South Hwy 401 (towards Toronto) and exit Sydenham Rd. There’s also the choice to take the country roads (always my preferance) and mr google maps can direct you through Perth, Westport, and south to Frontenac. There is a section of dirt road using this route (on Canoe Lake Road). Both options have there benefits.
- Suggested stops: The historic town of Perth, cottage country haven of Westport, or stay the night in Kingston and explore.
- More information: The Ontario Parks website.
Frontenac Provincial Park
The Frontenac Provincial Park has several kms worth of trails to explore (ranging from easy to difficult, 1.5 to 21 kms) with an easy to read map that lays out the distances and amenities. Again, you have a lot of options to suit various interests and fitness levels!
- Highlights: Hands down the highlight was the wildlife. They also have interpretive trails, lookouts, and 13 clusters of camp sites available year round.
- Entrance fee: Approx 14$ day pass per vehicle.
- Dogs: Allowed on leash.
- Washrooms: Onsite.
- Season: Open year round.
The parks office is fantastic and a wealth of information, be sure to grab your free ‘2018 Frontenac Provincial Park’ guide from the main desk. I found the staff to be a pretty happy and healthy bunch – if you questions, they’re the experts to ask!
The Jinx of the Humble Brag
On Saturday my hiking buddy of the day and I walked into the main office to confirm the trails and get their advice. The parks staff was super helpful suggesting different routes and making sure we were well prepared. At this point, I completely jinxed the day by saying “we’re not first time hikers” with a smile. Oh, hello there ego, nice to meet ya! Ha ha. **rolling eyes** Completely deserving of a **facepalm**.
The irony is that I actually didn’t bring my hiking day pack with me. That thing has all my day hike essentials and normally is always in the car…except I switched cars and forgot to grab it.
All I had was my trusty Klean Kanteen water bottle. I would have failed boy scouts.
Dedication Trail South
We decided on the Dedication Trail South loop which is 9.8 kms total (plus 1.8kms to reach the trail start point). So off we went chatting away, taking the Corridor Trail up until reached up with the Dedication Trail.
Unbeknownst to us, this is where we took a wrong turn. Helloooo revenge of the humble brag! Ha ha. We were chatting so much that we ended up taking the Dedication Trail clockwise instead of counter clockwise as planned. Without noticing. All we really paid quasi attention to was the blue trail marks (the trails are very well marked). So imagine our surprise a good 4 kms in that we were the exact opposite spot then where we assumed!
It didn’t matter, this trail was magically. I mean straight out of Disney kind of magical.
Bring on the animal kingdom
First was the when we saw an animal running in the not so distant distance. We looked closer…was it a fox? An otter? Oh, hell no, that was a huge fluffy mother tucker fisher! I really wish it was an otter. I knew I should have brought my trusty day pack and bear spray…
As a kid, I remember playing with garter snakes, so when a little guy hissed at me on the trail I acted like it was no-big-thing-chicken-wing. Pfftt, I got this. **puffs out chest** I was searching to see where the snake was in the grass when my hiking buddy leaned on a tree and the branch brushed my hair. I shrieked and jumped like a champ. My ten year of self would be laughing at me. Ha ha. Ouff.
On a more magical note
Next we walked through part of the trail filled with old tall trees overlooking the lake…and the forest seemingly came alive. I mean truly alive. The birds were singing so loudly, and there were so many of them that we actually stopped in awe looking up at the trees!
Off in the distance we looked out on to the lake to see the handy work of beavers. I mean, this little construction workers are everywhere. So so many dams and chewed down trees. Our national animal was a little shy though, none to be seen but the evidence of there presence was in abundance.
The best moment of the whole hike, was when I heard my hiking buddy gasp in awe and I turned around to see her staring across the trail wide-eyed. I followed her stare to see a doe gently drinking from the stream in front of us. You have to understand, it was the most surreal and magical little moment in time. We were no more than 15 feet away from the doe, we were the only ones on the trail, the sun was shining down through the trees. The world fell away and we just watched. And then a few more deer appeared.
I assume this is why it’s called doe lake. 😉
13.4kms later we made it back to the parking lot, and decided not to let the main office know that us “experienced hikers” actually had no clue where we were for a solid part of the trail. Ha ha ha! (We were always on the clearly marked trail and the only thing at risk was my ego)
Doe Lake Trail
I decided to stay the night in Kingston and hit Doe Trail Sunday morning. I came back at 8:30am and yet again, was the only person on the trail. Does no one like hiking in the spring? I get it, the greenery is lacking, but the wildlife is alive and the views still gorgeous!
Doe Lake Trail is a 3km moderate hike that takes about an hour to complete, depending on your pace and how often you like to stop and take pictures (for me that’s about every 10 steps 😛 ). This is a pretty pretty hike, there’s one official look out listed but there is actually three spots with benches and a view.
Being on the trail early morning and alone was the perfect ‘walking mediation’. Complete joy. The birds were singing, the chipmunks were chasing each other, beaver dams were in abundance, the woodpeckers were out putting on a show, and it you stopped to listen to the lakes you’d hear them talking back to you (change in weather and the ice surface causes loud bubbling sounds – think witches cauldron 😉 ).
Make it an overnight trip
Admittedly Frontenac Provincial Park is further than my normal, and let’s be real, the trails are longer and there’s more to explore. So you might want to make this a two day event. If so, you can either camp onsite if any spots are available or stay in Kingston which is only 30kms away.
I decided to spend the night at the Courtyard by Marriott. My legs were jelllloooo after Saturdays hike and the Courtyard was close to the highway and affordable. The hotel has military and CAA discounts, don’t forget to ask! It turned out the be the perfect choice. There’s a (small) gym and indoor pool (with slide…I didn’t use said slide. Maybe.) on site. They also have a nice lounge with Starbucks coffee and outlets at every seat which puurrrrr-fect for my spirit animals out there!
The country drive home
Ok, we all know by now that I looooooooove country drives, the slower pace and beauty is appealing. Naturally I took the back roads home stopping in to Cottage Coffee in Westport to say hellos to the owner John and pick up my favourite ‘sugar bush cafe latte’ to go (delish – thank you!) and then I hopped over to see Donna over at Jake by the Lake…the only Life is Good store in Canada. Of course I picked up another tee.
The last stop of the day was at Coutts Coffee in Perth, enjoying my light lunch and typing this up. Frontenac Provincial Park was a win for the weekend. Life is good.