I Do Love The County

For those that don’t know, Prince Edward County or The County is an island, just a short hop, skip and a jump from our house. The main towns are Picton, Wellington and Bloomfield with assorted other little villages along the way. It’s a very popular destination if you live in Ontario or Quebec, hugely popular. Why you might ask? Well they have the Sandbanks Provincial Park (includes the World’s World’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation), tons of wineries, breweries, cute shops and boutiques, bakeries (Wellington Bakery is our favourite) and some of the finest restaurants I have ever been to. And there is lots more including outdoor activities, parks, festivals, events and so on and so on. There is a great article in the NY Times about The County.

But I digress, a few days ago, we went for the day as the weather was great and we wanted to get out of our house. We headed to Beaver Meadows Conservation Area for a hike. We hadn’t been here for a long time and I honestly didn’t remember it. There are a couple of short hiking trails and some old ruins and wetlands. It’s not very big and doesn’t take long to go around.

The ruins were kind of cool, I love ruins. There was no signage to say what this was but I am thinking maybe a farm, but I don’t know for sure.

The trails were nice but not very long and there were a couple of spots to look out over the wetlands.

We left there and headed over to Gillinghams Brewery for an outdoor beverage. But first we stopped at Carson’s a really cute store which is just down the road from the brewery.

I don’t know why but we had never been inside before

And then to the Brewery…………Gillingham Brewing Company

When you go to the back they have several picnic tables with overhead heaters and a couple of tables with fireplaces inset into the table. They also have an outdoor firepit with Adirondack chairs all around. Quite a cute spot to have a beverage in the winter without going inside.

So another fun day, a little of this and a little of that……….Stay Safe!

A Cold Morning in Presquile Provincial Park

Our weather has been pretty good so far. Tuesday (15 December) was supposed to be a nice sunny day albeit cold so we decided to head out early in the morning to Presquile Provincial Park which is about a 30-40 minute drive for us. The park is right on Lake Ontario (part of the Great Lakes) and therefore a lot colder than the temperatures indicated, good thing we were bundled up. We were in the Park by 730 and right away saw a small herd of turkeys! I do love wild turkeys and not to eat. They are pretty awesome and honestly quite big.

There was probably 8-9 turkeys in their little herd. They were running around a field, probably trying to get warm.

As we continued on we spotted a couple of deer including a fawn. He was getting big but you could still see the size difference. Here are a couple of photos of the deer that we saw.

I took this photo in colour and when I got home, I did a copy in Black and White. I don’t think I am as fond of animals done in Black & White (unless it’s a zebra lol) as I am of landscapes and old buildings done in Black and White. But here goes…………..

We did do a hike, not long, couple of kilometres. It was a nice trail and we were on a hunt for an owl but we didn’t see him. It wasn’t as cold in the forest but walking was interesting as the ground was all frozen and crunchy.

Trail

All in all a nice morning and as we go there quite a bit, I know we will head back again.

Lake Ontario early in the morning

Stay Safe Everyone

Algonquin Park, Mew Lake – September/October 2020; Part Two

So here we are again, still in Algonquin Provincial Park. We like to hike and there are so many great places to hike in Algonquin Park.

Below are some photos of a trail by Cache Lake.

Some spots along Arowhon Road and the old railroad line.

March Hare Lake

Canisbay Campground and Trum out for an adventure.

It’s interesting some of the things you see when walking a trail. We spotted some cool mushrooms and an old abandoned? canoe on one trail.

Another trail we took started out as an old road and then turned into a trail in the forest. At one spot, we saw some turtle nests. The nests were old and had been trashed by another animal. Most likely a fox or raccoon. We could see the egg shells scattered around.

This guy was on the wall at the Canoe Lake restaurant. Cute.

We like to do different trails throughout the Park, but there are some we don’t do as they are way too busy. Here is a view of the highway leading up to the Track and Tower trail. Crazy busy. This was during the Thanksgiving weekend. It normally doesn’t look this bad.

Below are some random photos of some of the hikes we do and some other parts of Algonquin Park. The photo below is described on maps as “Pond”, Clint and I named it Monkey Lake, one of my favourite spots.






Monkey Lake

We came across this sight while out walking. I guess it’s where firepits come to die.

I love Kearney Lake, we weren’t able to canoe there this trip but it’s a cute lake. And we saw a snake while walking around.

Some random mushrooms and pods. Mushrooms are so amazing, I can’t believe all the different styles and colours.

Source Lake Road is a pretty road in the fall to drive down.

Some of the trails we hiked needed some cleaning up. Sometimes you have to go under, over, around or through!

So that about wraps it up, just a few more random shots. Hope you enjoyed the photos.

Well another trip come and gone. But there is always next year.

Stay safe Everyone.

Algonquin Park, Mew Lake – September/October 2020; Part One

And…………..back to my favourite Ontario Provincial Park………..Algonquin !

I got a little behind in editing my photos and writing my Blogs, by the time this will be published, I will already have published another post on a day trip we took to Algonquin in November, Sorry about that! This is a trip that started 13 September, we stayed in Mew Lake campground and left for home on 13 October, so 2 1/2 weeks total.

We had a nice site, lots of room. We liked to play backgammon and have a beer at the end of the day, and eat peanuts, and we kept having Blue Jays drop by, literally on to the table. Little Bandits they are. For a few days, it rained so much that our site had a little lake, what are you going to do? So we made up a sign that said Boat Launch and stuck it in the water. People walking by laughed about that.

Algonquin is 772300 hectares compared to Sharbot Lake which is 80 hectares, so Algonquin is a fair size. I have written about Algonquin Park before, in detail, so I won’t do it again; suffice to say, there are about 12 campgrounds, back country camping, 14 hiking trails, biking trails and over 1,500 lakes and 1,200 kms of streams. Quite the place.

The colours in Algonquin Park were not the best this year, they peaked early. I think the high point was around the 20-22 September. We arrived 26 September and by then there were a lot of leafless trees and hardly any red trees. Majority of the trees were already looking dry and had that yellowy-brown colour.

We drove one day to Dorset, a small town that I just love. My parents owned a cottage near Dorset when I was growing up and we spent every summer in this area.

We then drove up past Minden and up to the Bracebridge and Gravenhurst area. The leaves were quite different in this area, more reds and oranges and the colours were overall much better and the trees were full of leaves. Quite a difference. We did stop at three breweries to pick up some craft beer. Muskoka Brewery, Boshkung Brewery and Sawdust Brewing Company. We really like Sawdust Brewery and Muskoka is okay. It was our first time buying Boshkung beer and it was so-so. We also spotted an old barn down a side road so we stopped for photos, I love old barns and in fact I love any old buildings.

We drove into Whitney a couple of times, mostly for gas, but one day we drove around the area. We followed the Madawaska Road which follows the river and a few other roads leading us here and there.

We always go to Oxtongue Rapids, a really lovely spot. This site is west of Algonquin, outside the park. We stopped at one area that we like, cute little bridge and then further on we stopped at the Rapids.

We did a lot of hiking this trip, not so much canoeing. In fact, I think in 2 1/2 weeks we only paddled once. It was pretty rainy almost every day and windy and cold ! The day we went paddling it was 4 Celsius.

I love moose and sadly this trip we saw only two. The first time I saw a moose I was about 6-7 years old. My parents, sister and I were hiking in Algonquin Park and I was running ahead of my family. A cow and calf ran across the path in front of me and I don’t know who was more startled, them or me! My husband, Clint and I have been together 20 years and since we met, we have been going to Algonquin every year, in all seasons, spending anywhere from 2-3 weeks up to 8 weeks a year in Algonquin. We do trailer camping but we also do back country camping and quite often we drive up for the day. It’s about a 3 hour drive each way for us.

On all the trails we hiked, well most of them, we saw lots of moose tracks and scat, and yet we only saw two moose and they were on the side of the highway. One dirt road we walked down, we followed the tracks of an adult and young one and they were somewhat fresh tracks. I would love to have seen them ! We have never come here and NOT seen moose.

I do wildlife photography and this trip was pretty slim pickings for us. Now I have always said, as have many people, wildlife photography is “Right Place, Right Time”. We know Algonquin Park very well and we know the areas to go where you will have a better chance to see wildlife but no guarantees. On this trip, we did see a bull moose, a cow (female moose), beaver, herons, wood ducks, pine marten, mink, loons, otters, ducks, grouse and assorted birds. Having said that, it sounds like a good haul, so to speak, but a lot of them I was not able to get photos of. For example, the otter I saw was way faster swimming away than me grabbing my camera ! The mink was also very quick, I did manage to get off one photo but he is behind branches on a rock and therefore not a very good picture.

Some photos on Opeongo Road, east end of the park.

Some other photos from the same area.

Years ago, it was normal to drive the highway through the park and see 10-12-14 moose in one day! Not so much anymore. We were told by a friend that lives up that way that the moose population has declined significantly and I believe that. Also we normally see bears, probably 3 out of 5 visits, but none this visit. But there is always the next time.

Whitefish Lake is a great lake and Centennial Ridges Trail looks over the lake.

East Beach is a nice spot and we like to put our canoe in here and paddle. The Park’s Amphitheatre is on the way to the beach. When you get to the launch to put your canoe in, you can paddle to the right to Lake of Two Rivers or go to the left down a little river and into Pog Lake and you can go further into Whitefish Lake.

This Blog Post is getting kind of long so I am going to break it into two parts.

Stay tuned for Part Two where I’ll have more photos of the park and some of the trails.

Silent Lake Provincial Park – September 2020

This is an extremely hilly park, they even have signs in certain spots stating No Trailers Allowed ! Silent Lake is not a very big park, maybe 1610 hectares and has only two campgrounds. They also have some walk-in sites. Our site was okay but none of them look to very level and no privacy really if you want that.

The main gate which is also where the Sanitation Station is, kinda odd………

We spent a few hours paddling around Silent Lake, not a big lake maybe 2.5 km in length and no motor boats allowed, which I like. The fall colours on this lake were really nice, lots of reds and oranges.

Silent Lake

We saw another Loon with a young one, I feel like the Loons had their young very late this year.

You used to be able to access two other lakes by portage (Quiet and Soft Lakes) but when we went this year, the Warden told me that you aren’t allowed to canoe in either of these lakes anymore. She said something about sensitive environments. But Silent Lake is nice to paddle so that’s okay with us.

They only have three trails, we did two of them. We did the 1.5 km Lakehead Loop Trail following the lakeshore and Bonnie’s Pond Trail, a 3 km walk through a forest and past a large beaver pond. Bonnie’s Pond was named after a workhorse who drowned while dragging logs over the ice on the pond. Kinda sad.

Their last trail, Lakeshore Trail, is 15 km and takes you around the perimeter of Silent Lake. Had we stayed one more night we probably would have done it.

They also have a Bike Trail, which we didn’t do, they have a two loop trails – 11 km and 17 km; the 11 km is moderately difficult and the 17 km is difficult.

All in all, it was a nice park, not much to do but we still enjoyed it and really enjoyed the canoeing. We may be back.

Off to Algonquin for 2 1/2 weeks now !


Bon Echo Provincial Park – September 2020

Bon Echo is up there in my top 10 favourite Ontario Parks. They have two large campgrounds and back country camping. Mazinaw Campground has 3 loops; Midway, Fairway and Sawmill Bay. The second campground is Hardwood which is on the other side of the park and is a semi-wilderness spot for tents and tent trailers.

We have been to Bon Echo a number of times and also just for day trips. They have quite a lot to do here, more than many other Ontario Parks.

Trum entertaining the chipmunks. My husband says this is #alcoholinducedfun

I love campfires and even if it’s cold, I bundle up and keep a blanket handy.

We like to canoe in Mazinaw Lake and Bon Echo Lake and you can also drive to the other end of the park and do a 500 m portage to paddle in Joeperry Lake and Pearson Lake. The trail to the lake from the parking lot is a nice trail. Clint takes his camera gear and canoe and I take the rest.

Map of the lakes

A nice canoe launch awaits at the end of the trail at Joeperry Lake, paddle north and around the point then head south and you can get into Pearson Lake, depending on water levels.

We saw some loons, a mom feeding her young one.

Adult Loon
And they are off to find a new feeding ground

Young Loon

We also spotted a heron on the shores of JoePerry Lake. I love watching the herons.

Some views of JoePerry and Pearson Lakes.

Just some information for those that they be interested…………they have one big canoe route, Kishkebus Canoe route which is about 21 kms as well as a few portages, one of them being 1.5 km. We did not do that trip this time.

Bon Echo Lake is a cute little lake to paddle and there are a few cabins there for rent also. The cabins seem pretty nice, probably pretty pricey to rent.

We parked the truck and put our canoe in, just to the left of the put in was a small river going behind us to a small pond.

We did spot a heron in the pond, which you can walk to from where we parked, but he was pretty far away.

It’s a really nice little lake to paddle, picturesque. Below is Bon Echo Lake.

They have some trails and we have, over the years, done all except for the two longest Abes and Essens Trails. There are walk in sites on the longer loops of this trail. The loops are 3.5 km, 9.6 km and 17 kms. We normally take our time, we are looking at things, taking photos, enjoying nature. Near the end of the trail, I could feel somebody right behind me, it startled me When I turned around it was a young guy and I said “Oh you should have said something, I didn’t know you were there” I let him pass and we heard him say ” Well you people walk so slow” hahaha yes but we probably see things you don’t is what I was thinking!

It was a pretty nice trail but lots of steep hills. A guy and his son were portaging their canoe and fishing equipment as they heard there was good fishing on a lake on the trail. He’s a brave one, he had an old heavy canoe probably weighing 80+ pounds. Our canoe is an Ultra Light and weighs 44 pounds. We didn’t envy him. As you can see below, quite a bumpy trail!

Clint enjoyed the walk and there was lots to see.

Bon Echo Creek Trail is only about a 1 km and follows along Bon Echo Creek; High Pines Trail is a little less than 2 kms through the forest; Shield Trail is about 4.8 km through the forest and past a beaver swamp; Pet Exercise Trail is an off leash 1.4 km trail. They also have a terrific Dog Beach for your furry family members.

Bon Echo Creek Trail follows the river. You can paddle this, it’s quite nice.

River

Dog Beach was pretty great, one of the better dog beaches we have seen in Ontario Parks. We sat for a bit and watched the dogs playing.

Dog Beach

High Pines Trail was not too long and we saw a snake !

The trail was pretty open which is kind of cool, you can see so far.

The other trail is the Cliff Top Trail which is about 1.5 km and you have to paddle or take a ferry service (called the Mugwump) across the lake to get to it. You take a pathway and stairs to the top of Mazinaw Rock overlooking the lake. It’s hard to spot but right above the kind of reddish tree in the middle of the photo below you can sort of spot a small wooden structure. That is the viewpoint spot. I took this shot from the lagoon.

The lagoon is where you can rent canoes, paddleboards etc and catch the Mugwump Ferry when it is working. It was closed this summer due to COVID.

Just a few miscellaneous photos I took around the park plus another view of Mazinaw Rock.

Woodpecker

I love this wasp on the yellow flowers.

Wasp having lunch
Another view of Mazinaw Rock

There are other things to do in this area if you run out of things to do in the Park. We drove to the Lower Madawaska Provincial Park Reserve about 40 kms from Bon Echo. There are some really bumpy side roads here and you can drive so far and then have to park and walk to different areas. We went to Crooked Rapids, Slate Falls, Buck Bay and Aumonds Bay. Some really nice spots and we love to explore new places. I think they have about 36 back country sites for camping. This is a really pretty area.

We made a stop at the Irvin Lake airstrip, pretty cool, no buildings left just the old runway. The road to get there was pretty bad but we have an off road truck so no problem for us. This is Crown Land so you can camp here if you want.

Old Airstrip

It’s funny the things you find in the middle of nowhere. We spotted this hanging off a tree, Clint spent an hour looking for the owner, he said it was his civic duty. lol

We drove to the Skootamatta Dam which was a long drive down a back road and hydro access road but we couldn’t get access to the dam. Then we tried to get to Sheldrake Lake Dam Road but couldn’t get there either! Usually these roads are gated up. We did stop at Skootamatta Lake and it was very pretty with little islands all along the shoreline.

Marble Rapids was also pretty and if you are doing the big Kishkebus Canoe route, one of the portages is here. On to Semi Circle Lake for a look and this is also part of this portage.

So to wrap up, this is a park I would recommend, we will definitely, at some point, return to this one. As I mentioned, it is not a long drive to do day trips from where we live so we may get there again in the next couple of months.

Off to Silent Lake Provincial Park now……………….