Distance hiked: 16 km // 10 miles
Steps taken: 25, 953
Time on the trail: ~5.25 hours
Calories burned: 2, 306
Fuel consumed: 2 tortillas w/ peanut butter + jam, 1 baggie of dried fruit, 1 cheese string, 1 baggie of party mix, 1 apple, 2.6 L of water
Wildlife spotted: 1 loon, 2 deer, 1 woodpecker, 2 garter snakes, 1 ground hog, gang of turkey vultures, 1 ruffed grouse, 1 unknown medium-sized mammal
Yesterday, I returned to the Rideau Trail for the third time, this time starting my hike from Gould Lake Conservation Area, which the trail runs straight through. I wasn’t long into the hike before I knew that I had reached the section of the Rideau Trail I had been dreaming of. When I decided to hike as much of the Rideau as I could this summer, THIS is what I imagined it would be like!! I was treated to rocky and rough terrain, with a narrow and twisting trail through deep forests and rocky ridges with sweeping lake views.
I got a pretty late start to the day, as I didn’t arrive at the trail until around 12:30pm. The parking lot at the conservation area was crowded, but I had the trail almost entirely to myself (I only saw one other hiking group the entire day). It was HOT out (I think over 30 degrees Celcius), and with the rough terrain I worked up a sweat pretty quickly. It was a bit of a challenge to stay properly hydrated, and I didn’t have to do a single trail pee, which was slightly concerning.
This hike certainly wasn’t for the faint of heart, as it involved a good deal of scrambling up and down steep, rocky slopes and navigating a narrow and twisting trail. At times, the trail was indistinguishable from a random pile of rocks, but for the trusty orange blazes marking the way. It was a tough 10 miles, but I was certainly rewarded for the hard work. This was definitely one of the most beautiful hikes of the summer so far.
These are all examples of what the trail looked like at different points.
The hike started out in a lovely forested area, with some fun little boardwalks. At one point, the trail wound through a marsh on a tiny strip of solid land, which was really fun! When I got my first view of Gould Lake, it was a pretty constricted bay section of the lake, but I was very excited to be hiking by the water. I had no idea about the gorgeous lake views that awaited me!
The secret trail through the marsh!
After twisting and turning through the forest a bit more, the trail came out beside the lake and I was treated to a view of the entire lake! It was beautiful. The water looked so clear and inviting, and when I felt it it was the perfect temperature for a swim! All I wanted to do in that moment was plunge in, but unfortunately with my late start time there weren’t enough hours in the day to finish the hike and take a swim break. So I continued on… and the lake views just kept getting more and more glorious. The elevation of the trail kept changing, so I would go from hiking less than a foot away from the water’s edge, to a rocky ridge many feet above, looking out over the whole lake. I think this was definitely my favourite part of the trail! I even spooked a deer in one of the forest sections, and got a great view of it as it ran off into the woods.
For some reason, this is pretty much my only photo from the high lake view section. Oops.
After leaving the lake, the trail entered a tract of private land, which always creeps me out a bit for some reason. At one point, the trail briefly went out onto the road, and I had to climb the fence on this little wooden ladder, which was kind of fun. After a while, the trail spit me out onto the road for good. I hadn’t looked closely enough at the map for this section, and wasn’t expecting any road walking (definitely not my favourite kind of hiking!). It was insanely hot out on the exposed road, and the hard pavement hurt my feet. I knew I was near the turn-around point of my hike, and I was just thinking that this was going to be a pretty crappy end to the route, when I came around the corner and saw a beautiful lake with a dock! It just so happened that my halfway point was EXACTLY where the dock was, how awesome is that?! So I was able to take a little break and dip my sore feet in the lovely lake water.
Road walking to Frontenac Provincial Park!
The way back wasn’t super eventful, as I had already seen everything along the trail (the joys of out-and-back hiking..). I was super excited to get back to the lake section of the trail though! And I saw another deer somewhere in this section. I was getting super close to the end of the trail, when I heard something off to my left. I looked over and saw something medium-sized and furry descending a slope. My brain immediately thought it was a bear cub, and meeting a bear (especially a grumpy mama bear with her babies) alone in the woods is a thought that terrifies. But, on closer inspection I determined that it definitely wasn’t a bear. I still have no idea what it was, but the shape and size reminded me of a badger or a wolverine (neither of which should be present in this area). I’m now thinking it may have just been a really fat raccoon (and feeling a little silly for how scared I got). After that spook, I got out of there quickly, and returned to my car thoroughly exhausted!
Somehow, my turn-around point ended up exactly on this dock. Trail magic!
Trail lesson of the day: You’ve gotta work for the reward!! Also, always leave time for an impromptu swim break.