A Weekend Escape in Naturally L&A

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By Cynthia Hazelwood, Cynthia Explores Ontario.

Restrictions are lifting and you know what that means… it’s time to travel!

Although Canadians were unable to visit their favourite global destinations, I feel like many of us have discovered something even better than an eight-hour plane ride. We’ve discovered our own backyard, and what a beautiful one it is! Many local businesses have had to shift into a new way of thinking, whether that meant outdoor events, virtual events, virtual markets, new additions, or the most popular, new patios. In relation to all of this, I am here to show you some incredible things that Lennox and Addington County has to offer!

The first thing we did on our weekend away was check out the Springside Park Trail in Napanee. This area is really well-maintained and shows the beauty of Downtown Napanee perfectly. As we arrived at the parking area, we had a great view of the old Grand Trunk Railway bridge that is made of limestone and dates back to the early 1900s! Once we parked we could already see the powerful Napanee waterfall. From here we walked down the trail, passing art installations, information plaques and kiosks, many picnic sites and a great playground.

Honestly, if I were a child, this is the playground I would want to go to! Once we passed the playground the trail ended at the library. As we were making our way back we decided the head over the bridge and take a short walk up to Loaf N’ Ale for lunch.

I haven’t walked around Downtown Napanee very much but I noticed they had very old architecture and some great small businesses to check out. After the quick walk to Loaf N’ Ale we were seated quite quickly on their patio. I ordered the spicy quesadilla and BBQ wings. I went a bit out of my realm here by ordering spicier food so I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I would have liked, but if you’re into Buffalo spice then the spicy quesadilla would be a great choice!

After lunch we went to Menzel Centennial Provincial Nature Reserve in Roblin. We have been here quite a few times but love visiting the boardwalks and the lake at the end! It was pretty hot the first day so hiking through the un-treed areas was a challenge for me, and the deer flies definitely kept us on our toes as well, which meant we had to go quite quick. After reaching Mud Lake we took a break from running from the bugs (literally) and utilized the picnic table. As we headed back, we passed one lone hiker before arriving back to the car. After getting some much-needed water we zipped down the road to our Airbnb in Newburgh.

We decided to stay at Clarkeland Farms the first night, and I must say, it was a great choice! Our host, Ken, was extremely friendly, eager to accommodate us and happy to show us around. Once we were settled in, we took a walk around the property to check out the old structures, ducks and barn cats. My favourite part about Ken’s property was the beautiful skylight and the small history book he put together. The book gave us information about his land, the village of Newburg, and nearby restaurants. I loved all of the personal touches here and felt very humble leaving the next morning.

On our second day we woke up quite early to really appreciate our time at Clarkeland Farms and then headed off to The Bee Spot to meet up with our host, Nicole, for 9:00am. When we arrived Nicole seemed very excited, which I loved! Once she started the information session, she kept us very engaged with her personality and knowledge by teaching us how to build a hive, how to protect the bees in the winter months, and giving us an overview of the “people” in the hive such as the Queen, the Brood (babies), Drones (males), and worker bees. After we gained some insight on the roles and system that are within the hive we put the bee suits on, started the smoker and headed over to meet the people of the hive.

As we became comfortable around the bees, Nicole started searching for the Queen (which we found!) and pointing out combs filled with honey, larvae, and pollen, and showed us other types of bees. Once we finished exploring the hive we had a great conversation with Nicole and received a jar of honey made by the bees we were just interacting with! Overall, it was an incredible experience and I cannot wait to visit again!

 

Once we left The Bee Spot we headed up to Erinsville to get lunch at the Lakeview Tavern. As we were pulling up it was quite busier than I had expected; turns out, the community centre was hosting a local yard sale and market, which was pretty neat to venture through. After we got our menus, I ordered the Swiss and Mushroom burger with fries and was surprised when they brought a deep-fried pickle on the side! The food, staff, and location were great!

After a yummy lunch we drove to Sheffield Conservation Area for a hike, but again, it was quite hot! We walked down the trail a bit and found a great place to go for a swim, so that is just what we did! Since we’ve been here many times I didn’t feel like we were missing out by jumping in for a swim but I would definitely recommend hiking one of the loops here or at the L&A Dark Sky Viewing Area if it’s your first visit. This park is located in the Canadian Shield and has beautiful lookouts, terrain and a perfect lake for swimming or floating.

After we took a dip in Little Mellon Lake we made our way over to Flinton Conservation Area. This park has a short trail leading you to a picnic site and a waterfall. Brandon and I are quite adventurous and experienced but if you aren’t used to hiking on difficult terrain then I wouldn’t recommend following the trail to the end! Don’t worry though, you can happily enjoy the waterfall from the top of the trail as well. If you would like to stay in the area a little longer, you can also check out the new L&A Forest Trails just down the road. There are 10 kilometres of trail to explore.

 

After we took in the company of the beautiful waterfall we went to Northbrook to eat dinner at Addison’s Restaurant. I ordered the chicken Florentine with feta and mashed potatoes, and was very impressed! The patio is brand new, and the staff and food were great.

Once we finished dinner we headed over to The Sugar Shack to get settled in for the night. Once we arrived, we were met by Gary on his four wheeler and followed him down the road into the woods. At the top of the hill stood The Sugar Shack! I was in awe as we were pulling up. Once he gave us a quick introduction it was just Brandon and I at the cabin. We started up a small fire and just enjoyed a few hours outside before heading in and getting ready for bed. The property has many trails that you can roam and another cabin out of sight down the roadway. This location is an outdoorsman’s dream!

The next morning we woke up early to soak in the last few moments at The Sugar Shack. Once we were ready to go, we headed up the highway to Bon Echo Provincial Park. We really wanted to end the trip off with a bang, and since we’ve never been here in the heat of summer, we decided to save it for last. When we arrived we got our gear ready and waited in line to get the canoe rental. Little did we know, it’s cash only! Since there’s only a limited amount of rentals we hurried out of the park and back down the highway to withdraw $40 from an ATM. We bolted up the highway once again, stood in line and luckily got our rental!

As soon as we loaded up the canoe we paddled over to the Clifftop Trail, tied off and headed up the side of Mazinaw Rock. This trail is only accessible by boat or paddling which made it feel quite unique to me. Once we started hiking I realized just how hot it was! If you know me, then you’ll know I get as red as a tomato when its warm out and this was definitely the case today. There wasn’t much shade, but the bugs weren’t out today which was a huge bonus. We stopped at the first lookout to fix up some sandwiches then headed forward along the trail. When we reached the third and final lookout we enjoyed the views of the beach across the water and were mesmerized by how tiny the kayakers below looked, imagining that we will be in the same position very soon!

After we completed the trail, we paddled North along Mazinaw Rock in search of the aged pictographs. Shortly on our adventure we came across Walt’s Rock that was created in 1920. I ended up doing some research and found out the carving is a memorial for Walt Whitman and was a celebration of his birth. Once we passed this first engraving, we were hopeful to find the pictographs left behind. In case you didn’t know, the Mazinaw Rock is actually 2.5 kilometres long, so we made an effort to take it slow in order to paddle from the launch point all the way to the North end of the cliff. Overall, there are 263 pictographs in total! We found about 15 different paintings and really enjoyed interpreting them as we went along.

About halfway to the end Brandon spotted a perfect picnic spot along the lake, it was a cave! We tied off to one of the large stones and enjoyed the view from Mazinaw Rock, looking outwards to the paddlers.

After we continued onward, we made it to the very end of the iconic rock and paddled back slowly, seeking out any other pictographs and appreciating the ones we’ve already seen. Once we docked the canoe back at the rental shack I had a very bittersweet feeling come over me. I felt incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to explore such a beautiful county and knew I had to make another trip back soon. Just before we headed home we decided to take a dip in Mazinaw Lake to really get the full circle of being here. We hiked, we paddled, we found some pictographs, and we swam in the lake. Can you imagine a better way to end the weekend in Lennox and Addington?

If we were to do this trip again, I really don’t think there would be anything I would want to change. Now, everyone is passionate about different experiences, but if you’re up for a jam-packed adventure, this is the trip for you!

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