Explore The Great Outdoors in South Eastern Ontario
There are only a few weeks left to get out and enjoy this summer so we wanted to highlight some COVID-friendly experiences throughout South Eastern Ontario that will help Ontario and Quebec residents stay entertained, get active and enjoy the outdoors safely as we head through September and October.
From discovering sunken ships on a freshwater scuba dive in the “Canadian Caribbean” to taking the “Frontenac Challenge” or hitting the links on one of Bay of Quinte’s treasured golf courses, South Eastern Ontario is filled with active experiences suitable for those much-needed solo rides or family-friendly adventure trips. Whether on land, on/in the water or in the air, here’s (only) a selection of some of the regions’ outdoor offerings that visitors can take advantage of before the cold rolls in. Scroll down to find options for Helicopter tours, Scuba Diving, Fishing, Water Sports, Cycling, Hiking and Golf.
1000 Islands Gananoque: 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours offers intimate, breathtaking aerial views of the 1000 Islands region with tours ranging from 10 minutes to a full hour in the helicopter! Soar over stunning landmarks such as Boldt Castle, the Ivy Lea Bridge, Singer Castle and the 1,864 islands scattered along the river. These panoramic views will give you a full understanding of why the region is called the 1000 Islands.
1000 Islands Brockville: Known for its fresh water scuba diving, the area is an oasis for new and experienced divers alike with over 200 shipwrecks, the lost villages, sculpture park and more than 80 species of fish that have been identified in the Saint Lawrence River. Other wildlife you might catch a glimpse of include muskrats, otters and beavers, too, and if you’re lucky the at-risk Blanding’s turtle.
Cornwall and SDG Counties: Dive in the Canadian Caribbean. Explore scuba diving in Cornwall and SDG Counties, with 15 dive sites, including the site of the Eastcliffe Hall Shipwreck (sank July 1970). This is the only Modern Steel-Hulled Freighter in the St. Lawrence River that is divable for recreational scuba divers.
Kingston: Dive under the surface and discover why Kingston’s clear waters and many shipwrecks make it home to some of the best freshwater diving in Canada. Divers can explore a variety of intact shipwrecks from the past two centuries. With clear water and secure mooring lines, you can descend on to three-masted schooners, paddle wheelers and wooden steam vessels from the mid-1800s. One of the most popular dive sites is the Wolfe Islander II, a modern-day car ferry.
Cornwall and SDG Counties: Whether you’re in search of a fun fishing outing with the kids or on the hunt for a trophy fish, you’ll find it in Cornwall and SDG Counties. The region is a perfect doorstep to the mighty St. Lawrence River, one of the world’s best destinations for freshwater fishing for bass, walleye, muskie and carp – and countless other catches in between.
Bay of Quinte: Join Captain Joe Spence on guided two or four-hour fishing trips with Blue Rock Charters. Learn easy and safe techniques to catch Bass, Pike and Panfish from a large stable boat. Alternatively, visit Fish Finder Charters and hop aboard the Fish Finder IV, a 24-foot Osprey Pilot house that comfortably accommodates up to six people for the perfect fall Trophy Walleye fishing on the Bay of Quinte.
1000 Islands Gananoque: Enjoy the serenity in the 1000 Islands part of the St. Lawrence River on board the SURE CATCH II with Dan’s Fishing Charters in Gananoque. Captain Dan has over 60 years of boating experience and will take visitors on a private fishing trip for up to four passengers.
1000 Islands Gananoque: Get an up-close and personal experience with the islands on the water with 1000 Islands Kayaking. Offering kayak rentals as well as half-day and full-day tours, 1000 Islands Kayaking gets you out on the mighty St. Lawrence River and weaving through the islands and the wildlife that call the area home.
Kingston: Ahoy Rentals’ waterfront location is a mere 10-minute walk from the heart of downtown Kingston. They offer rentals of kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, bikes and sailboats from their office located on Lake Ontario. They also offer hourly, full-day, and sunset sailing charters.
Lennox & Addington County: Get out and paddle Lennox & Addington’s magnificent waterways. There are dozens of locations where you can launch your canoe, kayak or paddleboard and paddle to your heart’s content. Don’t forget your camera… the view is spectacular.
Bay of Quinte: With water abounding in the area, the Bay of Quinte is a water sports enthusiast’s haven. For those without their own equipment, a quick visit to the Trenton Rowing & Paddling Club to rent canoe, stand-up paddleboard and kayak gear, will set them up for a glorious day on the water.
Frontenac: Taught on-site on beautiful Pearkes Lake, Frontenac Outfitters holds stand-up paddleboard lessons teaching basic skills that focuses on flat-water paddling. Learn the proper stance, paddling techniques, safety, and recovery methods.
Rideau: Le Boat’s luxury houseboat rentals make for the perfect last hurrah before winter and are built for the novice boater in mind. With no previous boating experience or boating license required, anyone can captain a Le Boat. Le Boat is booking until through Thanksgiving 2020 and is already taking reservations for the Spring/ Summer 2021 season.
Cornwall and SDG Counties: Home to one of the best parts of the Waterfront Trail, this section from Cornwall to Upper Canada Village stretches over 40 km and is entirely off-road, with a tour through the majestic Long Sault Parkway. Cyclists can also discover amazing routes, landmarks and businesses through the new SDG Cornwall Adventure Club.
Frontenac: Bike the Frontenac K&P Trail to Sharbot Lake. A distance of 66.5 km (one way) and max elevation of 238 m, the ride to Sharbot Lake provides an immersion in rural scenery. Harrowsmith and Verona offer mid-way rest stops, and the village of Sharbot Lake awaits with a public beach, coffee, ice cream, take-out meals and overnight accommodations.
Kingston: With a stunning lakeside location and 200 public parks open year-round, Kingston is a nature lover’s paradise. Walk or run the 8 km Waterfront Pathway along the Lake Ontario shoreline, go sightseeing at one of the city’s family-friendly conservation areas, such as Lemoine Point or Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area, or take to the K&P Trail built along an abandoned rail bed now converted into a year-round multi-use trail for walking and cycling.
Lennox & Addington: Road cyclists have been visiting Lennox & Addington County for years. The County Trails network includes twelve well-marked and easily accessible looping routes totalling 600 km of paved roadway. The routes have been rated by a local cycling club and have varying lengths and degrees of difficulty. Cycling clubs from Ontario and Quebec love spending extended stays in L&A.
1000 Islands Brockville: The 8 km Brock Trail runs along Brockville’s beautiful waterfront in the historic downtown and continues north along Butler’s Creek and Buell’s Creek to the south side of the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area on Centennial Rd. This scenic paved pathway accommodates bicycles, roller blades, wheelchairs and strollers. A section of the Trail gives you the option to go West to St. Lawrence Park.
Bay of Quinte: In the heart of Eastern Ontario and the City of Quinte West, Batawa Ski Hill is a unique place for people and families of any age to enjoy outdoor activities year-round. Eight scenic trails are ready to be explored on two wheels or on foot.
1000 Islands Gananoque: Located along the Thousand Islands Parkway, just 5 km east of the town of Gananoque, is the Landon Bay Lookout – part of the Thousand Islands National Park – with six different trails to explore. Regarded as one of the most stunning natural views of the St. Lawrence and 1000 Islands region, the lookout trail is a 1/2 km hike through natural vegetation and up a granite ridge to the Eagle Rock lookout point which boasts sweeping views.
Lennox & Addington: Sheffield Conservation Area provides a 4.5 km looped trail that offers some challenging terrain for the avid hiker. Spectacular granite outcroppings, deciduous forests and extensive wetlands typify this area of the Canadian Shield. Songbirds, waterfowl, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals like beaver and muskrat are common here. Ontario’s only lizard, the five-lined skink, is also a resident.
Frontenac: Take the Frontenac Challenge and hike 119 km part of Frontenac Provincial Park’s beautiful wilderness trails between September 1 and October 31. With more than 5,000 participants since 1993, three levels of participation and 11 trail loops to pick from; this challenge is great for the whole family.
Bay of Quinte: Black Bear Ridge Golf Course is an 18-hole public golf course in a traditional parkland layout designed with sweeping vistas, significant changes in elevations, natural water features and superior conditioning.
1000 Islands Brockville: The Brockville Country Club golf course is one of the best you will find in Eastern Ontario. The 18-hole course is deceptively challenging. With considerable elevation changes, many narrow and treed fairways, challenging par 3’s and ample sand traps and water hazards, the course can play tough. However, seven (7) sets of tee blocks ensure the course can be enjoyed by all levels of golfer. The course is very picturesque with wonderful vistas and has many beautiful flower beds.
Lennox & Addington County: Experience the ultimate late summer golf weekend at one (or all) of the region’s four courses – all within a 20-minute drive.
Cornwall and SDG Counties: Explore golfing in Cornwall and SDG Counties, with 11 courses and gorgeous landscapes throughout Winchester, South mountain, Iroquois, Williamsburg, Morrisburg, Glen Walter, South Lancaster, Alexandria and Cornwall.
Prince Edward County: Picton Golf & Country Club is a challenging and enjoyable 18-hole, par 72 Championship Course. Established in 1907, the Club is one of the oldest golf facilities in Ontario and has been described as a hidden gem and one of the best-kept secrets in Ontario golfing circles. With four sets of tees, dramatic elevations, superbly maintained bentgrass greens and demanding fairways, our premier championship course is inviting to golfers of all skill levels.
Kingston: For all the avid golfers out there who enjoy a more challenging play, visit Loyalist Golf and Country Club in Bath. The best-conditioned course in the region, Bent Grass greens, tees and fairways are all constructed to USGA specifications and the club offers an outstanding practice facility to complement its championship golf course.
Gananoque 1000 Islands: Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course at Glen House Resort is a championship 18-hole facility showcasing an inspiring blend of nature and design. Brilliant white sand bunkers, refreshing river breezes and dramatic elevation changes add excitement to every round.
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About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.