Greetings intrepid travellers! Welcome to the second portion of our final summer experience blog with Naturally L&A!
If you missed the first chapter of our Bon Echo feature, we encourage you to go check out! From hiking to scenic boat tours and coming face to face with the awe-inspiring legend and history surrounding Mazinaw Rock – it was the perfect kickoff to one of our most unforgettable adventures to date.
After the third day of our trip to Bon Echo Provincial Park was rained out, Heidi and I returned once more to the brilliant natural landscapes of the Addington Highlands to finish what we started. The week leading up to this trip was a rather nerve-wracking one, spent monitoring the weather and praying that the elements would be in our favour.
Day 3: A Thrilling Kayak Adventure, Hiking & Epic Local Eats
On the day of our return, we were met with fluffy clouds, brilliant blue skies and glorious sunshine in abundance. As we arrived at the park and stepped out of our car there was a wonderful chill to the wind – which was a nice change from the hot weather we experienced previously. Before kicking off the day’s activities we took a short walk to a spot near the narrows where the original Bon Echo Inn once stood.
A beautiful forest of extremely tall Red Pines now stands forever in a silent vigil. To me, it was a reminder that even though all things must come to an eventual end, that nature will always persevere in the absence of human influence or interference. Life, whether we accept it or not – literally goes on.
Paddling in The Shadow of Mazinaw
Not far from the narrows, is a little bay where you’ll find a small beach and Bon Echo Outfitters. Here, park visitors can rent canoes, kayaks and SUP boards. Ever since the first day of our trip to Bon Echo, we were itching to get out on Mazinaw Lake in a pair of kayaks, to explore the edge of the mighty cliffside and observe a few of the 200+ Indigenous pictographs painted upon the rocks.
After securing our kayaks, safety kits and lifejackets we cast off from the beach and headed out toward the narrows and the majestic waters of Mazinaw Lake. As we passed through the narrows the winds grew stronger and there was some noticeable chop to the water. Heidi and I are still relatively new to kayaking – and as my boat teetered and rolled upon the toothy waves I was admittedly a little freaked out.
Heidi on the other hand, powered right through the waves as I hung back in hesitation. Then I realized that this must be some form of test. Travel is all about stepping outside your comfort zone. To venture into the unknown, and conquer your fears. After a few minutes, I slowly began to paddle into the waves, water at times splashing over the bow of my kayak – but the cool spray and slicing winds only added to the thrill.
Leaving the first bay as several other visitors enjoy a sunny day on the water. In view is the Mugwump Ferry as it drops passengers at the Clifftop Trailhead.
As we made our way toward the narrows, we were instantly surrounded by spectacular views of the surrounding shorelines.
Approaching the narrows from Lower Mazinaw Lake.
Choppy waters made for a rather thrilling adventure as we transitioned to Mazinaw Lake.
Paddlers passing by a stone formation called Turtle Rock, do you see it’s profile looking out over the water?
The Alpine Club of Canada boats patrolling as brave climbers scale the face of Mazinaw Rock. Can you spot them?
It’s 12:16 PM and the sun is at its peak, yet the immense cliff seems to swallow the light in places as we pass by.
Just one of over two hundred striking pictographs painted on Mazinaw Rock. The lines that resemble scratches are called “Tally Marks” and are thought to represent the number of days an individual fasted during their vision quest – before painting what they saw upon the rocks.
Stretching Our Legs Amid The High Pines
After wrapping up our thrilling paddle on Upper Mazinaw Lake and returning to dry land, we returned to our car and had a quick snack before moving on to our next activity. Although it only felt like a matter of minutes, it was nearly three in the afternoon when we returned to shore. We were itching to give our legs a stretch and Bon Echo’s High Pines Trail was just the ticket.
High Pines is an intermediate-modern difficulty trail that leads travellers on a mild 1.7 kilometre (one hour) loop through a breathtaking pine forest that skirts along the edge of Mazinaw Lake as it winds its way through the rocky terrain. The first portion of the trail follows an old service road to the trailhead.
The mid-afternoon light cast the forest in an absolutely stunning light, offering a serene and visually stimulating hike through the forest. In total we spent nearly two and a half hours taking our time throughout the High Pines trail, shooting photos and wishing we could make time stand still.
An old service road cuts through the forest leading us toward the High Pines Trail.
Rocky outcroppings bathed in golden light add fantastic texture to the trail – again showcasing nature’s beautiful grand design.
Tiny infant pine trees reach for the light as a new generation of the forest continues to grow.
Just One More Hike!
Without even checking the time we finished one hike, and immediately moved on to the next. Our final hike was in an area known as the Abes and Essens trail which comprises three interconnecting loops consisting of Clutes: 3.5 km (1.5 hours); Essens Lake: 9.6 km (4 hours) and Abes: 17 km (7 hours). Each trail is rated moderate to difficult with variable terrain.
It was quite late in the afternoon as we began to explore the trail, we realized that we were quickly running out of daylight. We meandered along the trail for close to an hour but turned back as the lighting conditions continued to dim. On the way back, Heidi captured some stunning shots of this beautiful trail.
Lengthening shadows add a moody atmosphere to the Clutes Loop.
Glimpses of lush wetlands awash in a sea of emerald hues. Subtle signs of the approaching autumn dot the horizon.
The waning afternoon light pierces the canopy above, revealing a brilliant spectrum of colour upon the forest floor.
Gastronomic Goodies at Gala’s Pit Stop
As we hopped back in the car our stomachs were snarling like a pair of ticked off wolverines. Aside from a crude breakfast and a few granola bars throughout the day, we hadn’t eaten anything of real substance. Luckily, while researching for this trip we came across a particular food truck located in Kaladar Ontario, that was the subject of rave reviews.
Gala’s Pit Stop is a unique player in the rural food truck scene with a mouthwatering menagerie of your all-time favourite chip truck classics – with a creative gourmet twist. One look at their jaw-dropping menu, and you’ll have a new #foodie related mission in life. I kid you not.
Feast your eyes on the Triple Threat Burger. This beautiful beefy bounty comes with: deep-fried cheese curd, onion rings, and salsa. Heidi added bacon to the equation as well as a hefty pile of hot peppers and mayo to add some zing. Sweet Mother of Pearl!
Being ever the patriot, I selected the Crazy Canuck Burger which was graced by a thick slab of peameal bacon, sauteed mushrooms and a thick slice of melted Swiss Cheese. As I took my first few bites I literally hummed the first few bars of Oh, Canada!
Guidos also has a selection of life-changing poutines to choose from that each take the concept of this iconic Canadian classic to the next level. Heidi and I decided to share the Taco Poutine, which comes buried in a mountain of taco spiced ground beef, green onions, diced tomato and includes a hefty dollop of fresh sour cream for good measure. AYE CARAMBA! We may or may not have snuck in an order of onion rings.
All in all, our dinner at Guido’s was the ultimate ending to our huge adventure in the beautiful Addington Highlands! It was a marvellous spread of food coma inducing finery fit for royalty.
Embrace The Unspoiled Beauty of L&A County!
This brings us to the end of our Bon Echo experience and an unforgettable five months of working and collaborating with the County of Lennox & Addington. Over the course of this series, we’ve visited some amazing places – and we’re humbled that you’ve decided to join us for the ride!
It’s hard to believe that another summer has come to an end. For us, it’s felt like a heartbeat. A fleeting series of vivid moments and memories we’ll keep forever. I guess it really is true what they say: “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Travel is a personally enriching activity – and there’s so much to discover, right here in our own backyard.
If we have inspired you to go beyond the blogs and plan a trip to L&A County, we are truly honoured.
I’d like to thank the County of Lennox & Addington for the opportunity to explore this amazing slice of South Eastern Ontario and create these stories. This has been the experience of a lifetime.