Come Wander

So, you’re ready to hit the road. The King’s Highway 60 is calling your name – and who could blame you? The vistas on this route are stunning, from the Ottawa Valley to the Madawaska Valley. Every kilometre is a captivating experience.

It may seem like you could cruise forever on this roadway, but everyone needs to stop for a stretch every once in a while! After exploring Highway 60, from Renfrew to South Algonquin, I found some beautiful places for you to rest and restore your energy.

The Swinging Bridge at O’Brien Park

To feel the Swinging Bridge bob and sway under every step as you cross over the Bonnechere River, will be a highlight for many people at O’Brien Park. This modern reconstruction of the original suspension bridge (built in 1885) is a wonderful attraction in the heart of Renfrew.

After traversing the bridge, take the time to walk the premises around McDougall Mill Museum. This beautiful stone structure sits just below Bonnechere River’s picturesque Second Chute waterfall. Originally used as a grist mill (built in 1855), the building’s three floors now display many artifacts depicting the town’s early years, thanks to its restoration in 1969. *Please note the museum is closed for 2020 and can only be experienced from the outside.

Insider Tips:

  • Loop around Second Chute, 950m, easy. Cross the swinging bridge, walk up Raglan St. N to Stewart St. (Highway 60), across the bridge, and return on Arthur Ave.
  • No facilities are available. McDougall Mill Museum is currently closed.
  • A cheeseburger and fries satisfied my cravings at the drive-thru food truck, Odie’s Kingburger, in Renfrew.

Scenic Detour to the Fourth Chute

Take a scenic detour on Fourth Chute Road, off Highway 60, to discover Bonnechere River’s Fourth Chute Parkette. One could easily spend a day enjoying all the sights and sounds at this gem.

North of the road, there are two paths to explore either side of the river and the first waterfall. You can hear and feel the power of the churning water as the river flows through the bottleneck. On the southeast side of the bridge, there are more trails following the river. The paths are well worn, making the way easy to follow through the brush to lookouts on rocky ledges with a view of the fast-moving water below, or, descending into the gorge to walk on rocks at the river’s edge.

Insider Tips:

  • There are two short paths north of the road, 25-50m long. South of the road is a single, linear main trail with multiple branching paths, approximately 450m to the first trail descending to the river. The way is unmarked, so you’ll have to investigate each one to discover what’s at the end of the path!
  • Watch your step! Use care close to cliff edges, be careful of the cracks between the stones, and slippery rocks near the river.
  • Facilities (by donation) are available at Bonnechere Caves but the caves are closed until 2021.

John Egan Geo-Heritage Walking Trail

Ready to walk through geological history? Head to John Egan Geo-Heritage Walking Trail to explore the network of interconnecting trails. Take a self-guided tour of various rock types, river views, a trench that digs back in time, and a personal highlight for me – fossil hunting in the Ordovician Fossil Capital of Canada.

Insider Tips:

  • Download the trail map here before exploring; hard copies are only available at Bonnechere Museum.
  • There are multiple interconnected, linear trails at this Geo-Heritage site, it’s an estimated 1.5km walk to the fossil bed, the river lookout, and to return to the trailhead. I didn’t have a trail map on me, and trying to retrace my steps was tricky, but all paths eventually lead back to the CPR railbed. Keep the river to your left (you can hear it, even if you can’t see it) to return to the trailhead.
  • There is an easy walking trail leading to Bonnechere Museum, passing through Eganville Centennial Park, crossing a pedestrian-only suspension bridge, that’s approximately 750m one-way. Find the details on the trail map linked below.
  • Stay on the trails to avoid Poison Ivy and Poison Parsnip. There are notices posted along the trail.
  • Learn more about fossils, and Bonnechere River history, visit the Bonnechere Museum.

Golden Lake Parkette

This park is a slim slice of land that hugs the water’s edge with picnic tables, and a panoramic view of Golden Lake. It’s a great place to relax, no matter what time you are passing by. There’s a little sandy beach so you can dip your toes in – or go for a swim. The Golden Lake Parkette is a hidden treasure, not found on Google Maps, but I included it on our custom Highway 60 Map!

Insider Tips:

  • Facilities are available.
  • Visit Deacon Escarpment if you’re looking for wilderness immersion! Lace-up your hikers, get your bug repellant and grab a map in the parking lot before exploring 30km of interconnecting trails. I suggest the Lookout Trail, a moderately difficult 1.5km linear trail (3km return), leading to a beautiful view of the escarpment and Golden Lake. A Day Pass is required.

Killaloe Station Park

Killaloe Station Park stands where the Old Killaloe Railway Station once stood. Two grey brick stripes run through the red brick path to mark the steel tracks of J.R.Booth’s railway that once ran through Killaloe.

The final passenger service through the town was in 1962. Walking the symbolic railway path, you can almost hear the train’s ghost whistle coming through the covered bridge – and the lost echoes of a once-bustling railway station.

Insider Tips:

  • Water St. to Station Park west trail, 3.9km, linear – 8km return, easy
  • Station Park east trail, 950m linear – 2km return, easy. Signage on the covered bridge indicated the east trail was currently closed.
  • Killaloe is the birthplace of the Beavertail, and there’s a Beavertails location just a few steps from Station Park! Get your sweet (or savoury) fix before continuing on your journey.

Water Tower Park in Barry’s Bay

Diagonally across the street from Barry’s Bay Visitor Center is Ontario’s second last wooden trail Water Tower, standing tall in Water Tower Park. (link-16) Take the time to admire the workmanship of this beautiful piece of history. As you wander around the park, you’ll see more outdoor exhibits in the railway collection, a tribute to the Booth Line and railway history in Barry’s Bay and the region.

Don’t forget to visit the Visitor Center – it’s an original J.R.Booth style train station and the last left in existence.

Insider Tips:

  • It’s an easy 500m walk through Water Tower Park, and around the Visitor Center.
  • Facilities are available at the Visitor Center, with an accessibility ramp.
  • Barry’s Bay is pedestrian-friendly, with many courtesy crosswalks throughout the town.
  • West of the Visitor Center is Zurakowski Park honouring a local resident and test pilot, Janusz Zurakowski.
  • At Barry’s Bay Public Beach, there are 3km of paved waterfront trails.
  • My coffee and sandwiches were so good at Madawaska Coffee Co. Cafe in Barry’s Bay that I ordered a second time!

Roadside Park by the Opeongo River

This parkette is a beautiful little rest stop located just north of where the Madawaska River meets the river, near the J.R.Booth Heritage Railway Trail (link-19), which runs to Wilno’s Polish Kashub Park. Once you drive into the Roadside Park and round the first little bend, the highway disappears from view.

The picnic tables are well separated, so each spot has a private slice of nature. Walking around the dirt road loop is a great way to stretch the legs and admire the tall trees. If you look closely, you’ll spot the worn trails leading down to the water’s edge. I found a little sandy beach while following one of the paths down to the river!

 Insider Tips:

  • Approximately 850m walk around the parkette’s dirt road loop
  • Facilities are available.
  • Select picnic table sites have wide-open spaces that are perfect for kids to run around.

Taking to the Highway

No matter where your plans take you on Highway 60, make sure to enjoy the scenery, take breaks to stretch your legs regularly – and grab a bite to eat before continuing on your journey!

Stories

Cycling the OVRT: Smiths Falls to Arnprior

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Local’s Take: 2 Day Cycling Staycation #InFrontenac

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Local’s Take: 3 Cabin Nights & Rafting in the Ottawa Valley

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Wild and Wonderful Waterfalls

If there’s one thing we can agree on it’s that few of us will turn down an opportunity to see a waterfall. Whether it has something to do with the mesmerizing whitewater cascade or the white-noise that comes with it, a waterfall is a universal attraction. It can be the reason for a hike or […]

Get the Most Out of a River Experience

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Secret Swimming Holes

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7 of Ontario’s Best Paddling Routes

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Carving her Course on the Madawaska: Stefi Van Wijk

“The river is where I’m my best self. It doesn’t care who I’m pretending to be.”- Stefi  Van Wijk, avid paddler. It’s no exaggeration to say that water is in the blood for whitewater paddler, instructor, and paddle school manager, Stefi Van Wijk. Most days Stefi looks like she’s coming straight off a paddling trip […]

3 Fun Itineraries for Water Play

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Discover the Benefits of Local Travel

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Making Friends and Finding Adventure: Cycling Frontenac

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Swimming in the Wild in Frontenac and Beyond

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5 Foodie Adventures That Will Get You Somewhere

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3 Ways to Play on the Ontario Water Trail

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9 Awesome Bikepacking Routes in Ontario’s Highlands

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9 Sweet Summer Treks

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Thinking of Camping in 2021? Read This.

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Ontario Snowmobile Loops & Trips

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Coming Home

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Shinny Rinks and Sledding Hills

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Fall in Love With Winter

Unique winter experiences in Ontario’s Highlands that will give you something to brag about.

Light Up the Holidays

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Recharge in the Snow

Disconnect from the everyday with a snowmobile trip through Ontario’s Highlands.

Brighten the Darkest Months

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Get on Board with Charcuterie

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The Skinny on Fat Biking and Other Extreme Winter Sports

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  If you were sad to pack away your bike for the winter, are lamenting the loss of beautiful weather for an early morning run, or regretting all the days you could have been churning through whitewater this summer but weren’t, we have […]

Discover the Beauty of Winter Camping

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Embrace the Norwegian Concept of “Friluftsliv”

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Cache in with Geocaching in Haliburton

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After Turkey Burn

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Tiny Cabins, Yurts, and other Glamping Getaways

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Shiver-Worthy Spooky Spots

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Haunted Walks and Hair-Raising Ghost Tours

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Beer, Butter Tarts & Burritos (By Bike)

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Cycle Through Fall

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Cozy Up to Fall Camping

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The Best Fall Canoeing

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Best Highway 60 Hikes

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With Love, to Frontenac County

Now more than ever we are drawn to our community, and the places that help us to unwind and get outdoors. To get away from the crowds and reconnect with our roots. Frontenac County tempts us to sit back, unwind and check into vacation mode, to rediscover a world of countless lakes and a region […]

With Love, to Haliburton Highlands

We are so lucky to come from a place that has it all: phenomenal views, rugged landscapes, abundance of trails, and infinite opportunities for recreation, all enticing you to leave your comfort zone and step into the wild. Here, endless forests meet cool, clear lakes and rivers to create incredible vistas that reach out to […]

With Love, to the Ottawa Valley

From the rushing waters of the Petawawa, Madawaska and Ottawa rivers to the unspoiled woodlands of Algonquin Park, the Ottawa Valley is a sultry enchantress, enticing us with adventure. Renowned as a world-class whitewater destination and for the challenges found in its rugged hills and lush dales, the Valley pushes us to do more, live […]

With Love, to Lennox & Addington

Known for its pristine wilderness, incredible views and rugged natural spaces, the majestic beauty of Lennox & Addington speaks to the wanderer inside us all. From the craggy peak of Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo Provincial Park to the starry skies overhead, there is wonder waiting to be discovered here, a vivid reminder of how our […]

With Love, to Hastings County

The deep lakes and meandering rivers here are ripe with life, both on land and in the water. This land is known as a region rich with minerals, and we haven’t forgotten how our communities were settled by the gold rush, where miners flocked, eager to delve into the earth to unearth its riches. Thick […]

Feel Like a Kid Again

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Cycle Haliburton

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Bikepacking in North Frontenac

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Your Guide to COVID-19 Safe Travel in Ontario’s Highlands

This year the key to exploring is to keep it local; this is the time to explore our own backyards, and the regions close to home that have so much to offer us in the way of exhilarating outdoor experiences, fantastic food and drink, and blissful relaxation. If you’re exploring a new corner of Ontario’s […]

Go Backcountry

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An Ode to Summer

A throwback to summers gone past, with inspiration for this year’s adventure.

Just Show Up

Hit the water and take advantage of these easy kayaking and canoeing opportunities in Ontario’s Highlands.

Highway 7 Hikes

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Spring is Calling

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Spring Break

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Winter Just Got Awesome

Learn to climb or brush up on your skills with an epic ice climbing adventure at SOIceFest 2020 in Maynooth, ON.

Ultimate Après-Ski Experiences

Meet up with friends after a day well spent on the slopes or on the trails. Discover these top places in Ontario’s Highlands to celebrate the Apres Ski!

Climb a Wall of Ice

Challenge yourself to reach new heights with an ice climbing adventure at these places across Ontario’s Highlands.

Embrace the Dog Days of Winter

If you can’t beat winter, join it with an epic dog sledding excursion through some of the most beautiful forests in Ontario.

GPS Guru

Meet Mary Barker, the Wilberforce woman who’s making Haliburton world-renowned for geocaching.  Wilberforce, Ontario, County of Haliburton The roads to Wilberforce are winding and majestic, flanked by high pine trees and birches, nestled between the hard rock and calm lakes that make up the Canadian Shield. Mary Barker knows these roads and waterways well, having […]

3 Cheers for Mom

Discover ways to give a mom a Mother’s Day to remember, with gift ideas that go above and beyond.

Batter up!

Get a behind the scenes look into the world of baseball at Sam Bat.

Where Am I?

Climb to new heights at the Medeba Ice Wall and enjoy the unique view from the top.

Where Am I?

Make fresh tracks along premium snowmobile trail, the RAP Tour Loop.

Winter? Bring it!

Discover your love for the season with a classic Ottawa Valley winter.

One Last Ride

Watch JR Alli’s video and see what he discovers when he allows himself to just wander.

An Action-Packed Weekend

Read how Will Tang from Going Awesome Places raced muscle cars and experienced thrills on the rapids with whitewater raftering in the Ottawa Valley.

Whitewater Rafting as a Family

Read about how one family took on whitewater rafting on the Madawaska River and why they can’t wait to do it again.

The Freedom Finder

I’m a Freedom Finder. I wander with speed! I seek out opportunities to make fresh tracks, blaze new trails, and get my adrenaline pumping.

Where Am I

Explore the sweet moments and ageless beauty of Perth, Ontario.

All Terrain, All the Time

Pack your saddle bags and press the throttle for an ATV adventure like no other in Ontario’s Highlands.

Raging the Rapids

SUP Instructor Courtney Sinclair takes her passion for paddle boarding to the whitewater.