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

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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

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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

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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

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 […]

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

We are happy to see that summer is in full swing here in Ontario’s Highlands, and even happier now that we have seen the lifting of many restrictions here in Ontario. After months of staying home we are eager to get out and stretch out legs and imaginations in a region made for discovery. This […]

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 […]

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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.

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Seven charming museums in Ontario’s Highlands.

Where Am I?

Visit the Petawawa Heritage Village, where you can step back in time and explore the lives of those who wandered long ago.

Where Am I?

Discover a rich history and an even richer geology at the Beryl Pit in the Ottawa Valley.

Where Am I?

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

Where Am I?

Discover the story of the earth at the Bonnechere Caves in Eganville, Ontario.

Locals Know Best: Art & Culture

Discover the best spots to learn about the vibrant culture and hidden gems in Ontario’s Highlands through the locals themselves.