Paddling And Hiking In Ontario: Discover the Frontenac Arch Biosphere

A woman Paddling & Hiking In Ontario. Top view of a two people paddling on a lake.

Looking for paddling and hiking In Ontario? We have a great destination for you. And better yet, it’s not going to involve long hours of driving, crowds of people, or hidden fees and permits. Introducing the Frontenac Arch Biosphere. Here, you will find a provincial park with hundreds of lakes, and thousands of islands. The Frontenac Arch Biosphere is an amazing destination for outdoor junkies like you!

In this blog, we will introduce you to the beautiful, unique and ecologically significant region that makes up the Frontenac Arch Biosphere. We will also share how you can go paddling and Hiking In Ontario. We will also share a free planning tool you can use to make the most of your trip.

Welcome to The Frontenac Arch Biosphere: Paddling And Hiking In Ontario

The Frontenac Arch Biosphere encompasses an area of 2700 square kilometers. This area stretches from Gananoque to Brockville, and from the St Lawrence River to the Rideau Lakes in the north. The Frontenac Arch is an ancient granite land bridge that stretches from the northern Canadian Shield to the Adirondack Mountains. The land is rocky and rugged, with lakes and islands dotting the landscape. To the south, you can find the Thousand Islands and the intersection between the land bridge and the St Lawrence River. This is an area filled with forests and abundant in wildlife.

Even though this area was designated a Biosphere Region by UNESCO, it is not protected from development. This is why the community, its leaders and the FAB Network work hard to raise awareness and protect it.

Women's hands hugging a tree in the forest.

Go Paddling And Hiking In Ontario With FAB Experiences

The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network has introduced a free tool for planning day trips and weekend trips to the biosphere. FABExperiences provides interactive maps to help locals and visitors plan their trip from start to finish. To promote sustainability, FABExperiences features local businesses and pre-made experiences throughout the region.

Moreover, If you’re specifically looking for paddling and hiking in Ontario, here is a dedicated map. You can click on any icon or trail/park name for more information.

Paddling and Hiking in Ontario Map. FABExperiences Platform interactive map.

One of the best parts of this platform, are the “Story Maps“. These are interactive maps with highlighted points of interest – hiking trails, paddling routes, local businesses, lookout points, historical sites and more. Such points of interest are usually grouped together by geography into a single Story. This way, you can easily plan a full day or weekend trip.

Take the Story Map for Leeds & The Thousand Islands Paddling Experiences as an example. As you scroll down, you will find different destinations with photos, information and a link to the website.

Paddling and Hiking in Ontario FABExperiences Platform interactive map.

Day Trips For Paddling and Hiking in Ontario

1. Leeds & The Thousand Islands Paddling Experiences

The town of Seeley’s is one of the best day trips in Ontario, near Kingston. This is a great choice if you’re looking for some paddling and hiking near Kingston. Sitting on the shores of Seeley Bay and Broad Bay, Seeley’s is about 35 minutes (38 km) from Kingston. You can start your day with a cup of tea or coffee from SHaBean Coffee Roastery, with in-house roasted coffee beans. Once you’ve enjoyed your drink, go to the public boat dock to get your canoe or kayak in the water. If you don’t own a boat or kayak, you can rent one from Sunny Acres Resort and Marina.

Two people kayaking in Ontario Lake.

A place to paddle from Seeley includes Morton Bay (#3) about 7 km away. Morton Bay will take you through north Murphy’s Narrows toward Whitefish Lake. The bay contains rocky granite outcrops and has access to Rock Dunder Lookout. We recommend looking for a landing between Rock Dunder peak and Floods Island. From there, walk until you intersect the Rock Dunder Summit Trail. This view from the top is amazing – this is one of the best hiking trails near Kingston!

Woman sitting at the edge of Rock Dunder Peak

Once you finish your paddling and head back to Seeley, make sure you enjoy an ice cream cone from Konez Ice Cream (#8). These are delicious one-of-a-kind sundaes containing your favorite toppings.

Ice Cream Cones from Konez Ice Cream. Explore Ontario.

2. Frontenac Provincial Park & Sydenham Experiences

On your way to the Frontenac Provincial Park, have a wonderful day trip by stopping in Sydenham. This is a quaint town just 30 minutes (28 km) north of Kingston, where you can find lots of unique, local businesses. On your way to Frontenac, make sure to stop at Grains & Goods Bakery (#10 on the Story Map), a farmstead that gorws Red Fyfe wheat and rye. This business produces incredible loaves of bread and traditional pastries. Don’t forget to buy a loaf to prepare sandwiches for your afternoon hike! Make sure you are familiar with the businesses hours of operation – on weekends, it is open 10 am to 1 pm.

Additionally, while you’re in Sydenham, make sure you check out the Cataraqui Trail (#7 on the Story Map). This trail is 104 km, 7 km of which passes through Sydenham. This trail is a great option for anyone looking for urban biking and hiking trails in Ontario.

For some great hiking in Ontario, visit the Arkon Lake Loop Trail (#2 on the Story Map). This is an 11 km hike that passes through the lush forest of Frontenac Provincial Park, here you could see dozens of species of trees, wildflowers, and wildlife like deer, painted turtles, loons and herons.

3. Frontenac Provincial Park

Lastly, we have the Frontenac Provincial Park. Even though the park is only about 50 sqkm, you can find more than 100 km worth of hiking trails, which makes it a premier destination for hiking in Ontario. Since the park is only a 45-minute drive north, this means there is a nice set of trails for hiking near Kingston for you to discover.

In the FABExperiences platform, you can find pictures and descriptions for the three primary day hiking trails, plus a downloadable map of the park’s trail system.

Some of the most common day hikes include the Tetsmine Loop and the Corridor Trail, both about 11 km in length and take about 2.5 hours to complete. Tetsmine Loop passes by several mica mines, and it is safe to say that it is a unique trail in southern Ontario. Both trails could be hiked in a single day and would show the versatility of Frontenac Provincial Park.

The longest of the trails is Slide Lake Loop, a 26.6 km loop in the southeastern corner of the park. This route takes almost 6 hours to complete. It can also be hiked as an overnight trip, and permits can be booked through Ontario Parks Reservations.\

Turn your day trip in Frontenac Provincial Park into a weekend! You could camp in the park, or you could stay at the Snug Harbour Resort. The resort hosts 12 charming and rustic cottages with a beautiful view of Desert Lake. From Snug Harbour, you are down the road from Frontenac Outfitters, and you’ll find yourself close to three of the four trailheads.

Other Experiences In Ontario, Near Kingston

If you are a hiker, paddler and backcountry camper, those are experiences within the Frontenac Arch Biosphere that you definitely should check out. You can also take a self-guided wildlife photography tour, hiking at Charleston Provincial Park on the lookout for deer, turtles, osprey and other native animals. Don’t forget to also take a detour to the nearby Wildlife Museum, and the Maple Leaf Restaurant in Gananoque.

spend a weekend in Leeds exploring historical sites like the Old Stone Mill and the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario. If you’re thirsty for more hiking ideas, Leeds is nearby to a different section of the Cataraqui Trail and Threshold Forest, a private 25 acre forest is open for hikers.

Ready to Explore Ontario?

We hope this blog post has you excited about the many outdoor activities that are possible in Ontario at the Frontenac Arch Biosphere. It’s a truly beautiful region and it is worth exploring. Head over to FABExperiences and check out their Story Maps and interactive maps to help plan your trip. And remember, if you’ll be exploring the region, don’t forget to Leave No Trace (stay on established trails, pack out garbage) and make sure to visit a local business once you’re there.

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