Come Wander
Digging-for-Hidden-Gems

There’s something special about the geological make-up of Ontario’s Highlands, which has long impacted our land, people, and way of life. When you understand this, when you learn to read the rocks, you can uncover the secret history of our Earth and the lands that shaped our communities.

As one of the most diverse geological settings in Canada, opportunities to discover the incredible history of the land, dig for buried treasures, and uncover the stories of those who came before us are woven across the region. We’ve not only put together a collection of all the hidden gem experiences dotting the region, but also gone the extra mile by choosing four one-day trips to travel to be amazed by the geology of the region and expand your mind.

Jump in the car, hop on your cycle, or rev your motorbike and head out on one of the following trips.

To Take in Incredible Views

Noted on the map below in purple.

Get a different perspective on the rugged landscape of Ontario’s Highlands as you climb 30 metres to gaze out from the top of Dorset Lookout Tower. Take in the panoramic views of the powerful landscape below, before heading to the Minden Wildwater Preserve to witness the power of the water carve, cut, and shape even the striking geology of Ontario’s Highlands. End the trip getting up close with the lands during a guided eco-tour of Greenmantle Farms and marvel as you take in the sight of undisturbed rare mineral deposits, like fluorrichterite, apatite, horneblende and tremolite.

To Step into the Past

Noted on the map below in blue.

Head to the town of Bancroft to discover your own abandoned treasure at the CN Rock Pile where from 1927 to 1939, nepheline (used in making ceramic and glass) was discovered. Not commercially successful as the deposit was too small and contained too many impurities, some of the last shipments were left beside the railroad tracks and today is a popular collecting site for minerals like biotite, calcite, cancrinite, scapolite, sodalite, natrolite, apatite and zircons. Marvel at the royal blue hues of sparkling sodalite samples and jewelry in The Princess Sodalite Mine Rock Shop, and try your hand at collecting in the “Rock Farm” onsite, before pointing yourself towards Foymount to peer into the depths of ‘The Valley’ from Ontario’s Highest Populated Peak. Continue on to Eganville to journey back to the farthest reaches of time on a fossil hunt in the Ordivician Capital of Canada as you take a guided tour or explore on your own along the John Egan Geoheritage Trail – a reclaimed wildlife habitat and historic site that also offers five acres of prime fossil hunting grounds in the heart of town.

To Get Your Hands Dirty

Noted on the map below in orange.

Pick up a permit at Kauffeldt’s Grocery in Quadeville for a self-guided dig at the open quarry pit at the Beryl Pit Mine and call ahead for a guided visit of the Rose Quartz Pit while you’re there. Head to Eganville to marvel at the limestone channels of Bonnechere Caves as you learn about the fossils of the critters that came before, and relive the harrowing adventure of the man who first discovered the Caves. End your visit with a stay at Calabogie Peaks, where Dickson Mountain stands as the highest peak in the Madawaska Highlands and the rock beneath your feet is Precambrian igneous rock – granite and gneiss. From the top of this 2.5-billion-year-old site, you can see all the way to the Gatineau Hills of Quebec.

To Marvel at Nature

Noted on the map below in green

Discover a couple of Ontario Parks for the chance to not only take in beautiful undisturbed landscapes, but also expand your mind as you learn more about the earth around you. Marvel at the sheer expanse of Mazinaw Rock in Bon Echo Provincial Park, rising 100 metres high above Mazinaw Lake and covered in more than 260 Indigenous pictographs before climbing to the top to see the rock up close and gaze out at the surrounding landscape.

To Continue Following Your Curiosity

If the above day trips aren’t enough to satisfy your curiosity into the unique geology of Ontario’s Highlands, make sure to download our Hidden Gems brochure here for a full list and map of more than 40 sites to visit to expand your mind and discover the story of our Earth.  While you’re wandering Ontario’s Highlands, take advantage of the ‘Geo-Selfie’ Polaroid frames at each of the 12 locations above and share your photo with us on social media with #OHRocks.

Stories

4 Ways to Connect with the Land

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. The next time you are outdoors, take a moment to stand and truly feel of the land beneath your feet. If you concentrate really hard you may be […]

Connecting to the Land and Algonquin History: Amber Hein

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. On my mother’s side, I am Algonquin Anishinabek, an original inhabitant of Turtle Island, known today as North America. The traditional homelands of the Algonquin people are the […]

How to Give Back to the Land

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. – Amber Hein is Algonquin Anishinabek, an original inhabitant of Turtle Island, known today as North America. Read her perspective on how to give back to the land […]

Educate Yourself About Indigenous People and their Cultures

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. Canadians are becoming more aware of the injustices perpetrated against Indigenous Peoples since settlers arrived on the shores of Turtle Island (North America). Still, many of us aren’t […]

Responsible Tourism: Be a Better Ally to First Nations peoples

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. Canada is home to more than 630 First Nations, representing over 50 sovereign nations with their own lands, culture, language, creation stories, language or dialect. With such a […]

Fall Studio Tours, Theatre, Maple, and More

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. The summer may be over but that doesn’t mean the party has to stop. Events that take place in fall are in many ways even more amazing than summer events – there are no bugs, the weather is more reasonable, and we’re all eager […]

Responsible Tourism: Respecting Nature’s Soundscape

When you hike, is it to experience nature? Perhaps catch up with friends? Whether if it’s one or the other – or maybe both! – nothing trumps taking a pause to listen to nature’s ‘music’. There is beauty is listening to bird songs, frogs’ choruses, and the wind through the trees. In fact, it’s an […]

3-Day Creative Retreat

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. A creative spirit craves uninterrupted time to dream, wander, and replenish. It longs to absorb the creative vibes from others and bask in beautiful art and artistry. If your creative well has run dry or you are looking for an inspirational retreat to relax […]

Translating the Vibe in Haliburton: Nick and Benton

“In every season, Haliburton is inspiring – the pace, vibe and cottage feel creates the perfect setting for creativity.” ~ Nick Russell & Benton Brown, Haliburton musicians Picture this: You are at the cottage seated with friends and/or family around a roaring bonfire, the low murmur of voices competing against a chorus of crickets and […]

Find Inspiration in Ontario’s Highlands

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. We all want to be able to make beautiful music, paint stunning works of art or write beautiful prose, but if it were easy, everyone would be doing it, wouldn’t they? It’s fair to say that fostering creativity is difficult to achieve in a […]

Get the Most Out of a River Experience

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. Getting to know a river is almost like embarking on a wet and wild love affair. You forge a connection, learn everything you can, and then strengthen it over time. Sounds like a relationship, doesn’t it? The connection you have with a body of […]

Discover the Benefits of Local Travel

When was the last time you discovered a local landmark or business that you didn’t know was there? In Ontario’s Highlands, we have some amazing spots and experiences that you might be surprised to hear about. For example, did you know the longest canopy boardwalk in the world is located in Haliburton Highlands? Or that […]

Finding Beauty in the Everyday: Meet Rosemary Leach, Almonte Artist

The community of Almonte has a habit of creating and fostering artists, a trend that’s perpetuated in the work and life of Almonte artist, Rosemary Leach. Rosemary and her husband, Jake, originally hail from Toronto and Peterborough, respectively, and intentionally went looking for a community with an unhurried pace in which to settle down when […]

The Evolution of Art: Wendy Wood, Haliburton Artist

Haliburton artist, Wendy Wood, has lived everywhere from Kapuskasing to the shores of Lake Erie, but says nothing can compare to the creative atmosphere in Haliburton, particularly when it comes to fostering art and artists. “There’s a little bit of everything here,” Wendy explained. “The art school here draws everybody…you have top-notch teachers then people […]

Light Up the Holidays

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  When the holiday decorations go up in December the whole world begins to shimmer with magic. Every car ride or stroll is filled with wonder as we drink in the night filled with sparkling holiday lights of all colours. For the next […]

Local Love: 9 Local Gift Ideas You Can Order Online Today

‘Tis the season – for shopping. Yes, the leaves may have barely fallen from the trees but the jack-o-lanterns will shortly be switched out for ornaments and holly and the days are numbered before the holidays are here live and in person. This year when planning your shopping to-do list, we have two words for […]

Finding Good Medicine on Thunderbird Mountain

Having a guide can turn an everyday hike into the most amazing adventure. Although I’d hiked on my own in the past, making the hike with Tim Yearington of Bird Mountain Journeys wove together a story that allowed a deeper connection and different outlook on nature and history. It gave me a greater outlook on […]

Shiver-Worthy Spooky Spots

There’s something lingering in the air throughout October, leading up to the culmination of all things spooky on its final day – Halloween.   October starts with the summer’s lush canopy of green bidding a final farewell through a stunning display of vibrant colours. When the leaves die off and settle as a multi-coloured blanket on the forest floor, and the fog rolls in over the lakes and […]

Haunted Walks and Hair-Raising Ghost Tours

Have you ever wandered through an older building and felt the hair raise on the back of your neck, and not been sure why? It may be you are sensing something that others aren’t, some spooky aftereffect from a historical wrongdoing or the ghostly pinings of a disgruntled spirit. Many small communities in Ontario’s Highlands […]

The Artist’s Way

Who says art can only be found in big galleries or urban showrooms? To find fantastic local and Canadian art you need to head to the places that inspire artists to create, and Ontario’s Highlands is among the most beautiful places in Ontario (in our humble opinion). Beyond the inspiration found in the rugged hills […]

Big Attractions in Ontario

Are you the type to pull over when you see a comically large roadside attraction, or a picture-perfect spot to snap a few shots? Amateur photographers and Instagrammers alike can agree that a giant ice cream cone, a massive mural adorning the side of a building, or a full-size replica of a jet plane are […]

Ground to Glass

Discover how four craft drink makers harness Mother Nature’s flavours to elevate their beverages in Ontario’s Highlands.

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 […]

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 […]

Dark Skies, Starry Nights

Have you ever wondered about the mysterious realm outside our planet? Maybe you’ve wanted to roam the galaxy, travel among the stars, and get a new perspective on the universe. For now, stargazing is as close to it as us ‘average humans’ can get! Luckily there are still places to getaway, where the view of […]

Get in Step

April Verch, fiddler, singer-songwriter and step dancer extraordinaire teaches the basics of stepdancing.

Exhale and Unwind

Experience a slice of farm life at Dwyer’s Farmhouse in the Ottawa Valley.

Discover Hidden Gems

Feed your curiosity and explore the diverse geology of Ontario’s Highlands at these Recreational Geology locations.

Shine at Giving this Holiday Season

Today’s craft markets are full of fresh, hip products made by creative and talented makers. This holiday season, go above and beyond by picking up handmade items with a story to tell at one of these Ontario holiday markets.

Art in the Summer

Celebrate creativity at art festivals across Ontario’s Highlands this summer.

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.

Get Your Hands Dirty

Find out where to appease your creative side on this Creative Cruiser road trip.

The Creative Cruiser

I’m a Creative Cruiser. I wander with a desire to feed my curiosity, to follow my passions, and to grow from my discoveries.

Where Am I

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

Hidden Gems

Seven charming museums in Ontario’s Highlands.

Where Am I?

Discover breathtaking beauty blasted from the Earth at Marmora Mine in Ontario’s Highlands.