It was November and a group of us were headed to Frontenac Provincial Park just north of Kingston, Ontario for a few days of hiking.
Cottage on the Frontenac Arch
We were staying at “Cottage on the Frontenac Arch” owned by John & Elizabeth Sherk but more like a family home overlooking a quaint lake not too far from the town of Verona. This property for up to 8 people can be booked on Air B & B and John has even laid out a numerous of hiking trails around the lake.
The park offers over 120 km of hiking and backpacking trails with interior campsites but for our first one we had decided on the reasonably length Arkon, perfect for a day outing.
We drove to the park office to obtain our day use permit and park our cars. A number of trails radiate from here, most accessed from the Corridor Trail. This one is listed at a 5 km linear trail for 1 ½ hours ending at the south shore of Big Salmon Lake.
We didn’t go quite that far accessing the Arkon Lake Loop after about 3 or 4 km. The Arkon is listed as an 11 km, 3 to 4 ½ hour moderate trail, but you can catch a section of the Bufflehead Trail reducing the distance by about 3 km.
We found the Arkon Trail to have continuous short up and downs with plenty of roots and rocks to watch out for. In addition, at this time of November there were many muddy sections to navigate. The absence of leaves of the trees meant you often saw nearby lakes that may not have been visible in the summer months.
The blue blazes are easy to follow whether in the forest of over rocky terrain but there was no really difficult sections. After completing the loop you return back to the Park Office via the Corridor Trail or you can cheat a little by walking along the Big Salmon Road.
Our total hike came to about 15 km and we were fortunate to see a pair of deer along the way. Although not difficult because of the roots and rocks you do have to watch where you walk.
Located in the north end of the park with the parking lot near Kingsford Dam and is listed as 10 km but we added another loop to a lookout point so it was about 13 km. You can also access the trail from the Big Salmon Road which adds another 3 or 4 hours each way.
The parks people say it is a fairly rugged loop in a mature deciduous brush but I did not find it too rough, actually it was easier than the Arkon loop as although the ascents and descends were higher they were more gradual and with far less roots and rocks to stumble over.
After crossing the bridge next to the Kingsford Dam and a walk in the woods we came across an abandoned mica mine with information plaque and mica littered about. One thing that made this hike so interesting was that there was almost always a stream or lake in view.
The blazes make this route easy to follow and there are direction signs at every intersection. At this time in November we only came across 2 other hikers whom we later saw at one of the lakeside campsites. We passed several campsites, all with picnic tables, metal food lock box and a small wooden toilet.
We saw beaver lodges and a few trees they were still working on and although we did not see a beaver we did see a mink and later some woodpeckers. In one short section there was a rope to assist climbing down a rocky wall, but it really wasn’t that bad. All the streams we crossed (and there were plenty) featured a bridge, 2 planks or some rock stepping stones.
The parks people stated we crossed the north end of the Moulton Gorge and I am not sure where that was as we saw numerous gorges.
At one point we took a 2.6 km (return) side trail up a hill to a lookout point over the park and a nearby lake. It was worth the detour.
This was my favorite hike in the park and I intend to return again during another season to tackle it again.
What you need to know
- Frontenac Provincial Park is located near Verona, Ontario about 30 km north of Kingston
- You will need a permit for day hiking and/or camping at the interior sites
- Be sure to obtain a park map because the directional signs only indicate which way to go with no distances indicated and many are loop trails
- There are ticks in the park so make sure you are covered when hiking
- For more information check out the park website
This is a lovely park on the Canadian Shield with numerous streams and lakes and is perfect for a hiking holiday.
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