Come Wander
Hikes-on-Highway-7

With the warm weather finally here, many will be taking a break from city life to relax in cottage country this summer. If your road trip plans take you cruising on Highway 7 between Toronto and Ottawa, then you are in for a treat. Home to some of my favourite scenery in the Canadian Shield, the roadway weaves through rocky hills and lush forests, rolling valleys and wetlands teeming with wildlife in a wilderness that’s just begging to be explored.

We all need to take a break and stretch our legs on a long drive (and use the facilities!), so my suggestion? Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Ontario’s Highlands at one of these trails along the way!

Urban Riverside Trail at Marmora’s Memorial Park

This trail starts at the Marmora Visitor Center, on the paved Brian Goodchild Memorial Trail in Memorial Park. Wind your way through the colourful flower gardens, beside the picturesque Crowe River and relax at one of the picnic tables, benches, or in the gazebo.

The tree-lined path follows the waterfront along Water Street for 120 metres to reconnect to the trail. Take a pause at the dam, marvel the surging river and listen to the incredible sound as it reverberates off the cliff face. Continue to Mag’s Landing, the public boat launch, and calmer waters to sit beside before returning on the riverside path.

Insider Tips:

● With a paved path for the entire length, this trail is fully accessible, except for exploring the dam
● Accessible facilities are available in the Marmora Visitor Center
● A splash pad and playground in Memorial Park make this a perfect spot for kids to burn a little energy

Finding Serenity by the Skootamatta River

Where Highway 37 meets Highway 7, on the north side you’ll discover the Skootamatta Picnic Area, and a short path that follows the Skootamatta River where you can relax at one of several picnic tables, listen to redwing blackbirds and be mesmerized by reflections in the water. Jumping fish break the smooth surface, and hypnotic whirlpools swirl around large rocks as the river’s current gains speed, flowing out of sight toward a series of dams.

Insider Tips:

● The river has a strong current, so make sure to supervise young children by the water’s edge
● Accessible facilities are available at the Skootamatta Picnic Area

Energizing Rapids of the Skootamatta River

Price Conservation Area is an often missed gem, on the south side of Highway 7, just west of Highway 37. As the trail descends towards the water’s edge, you can see the raging river through the trees after it has passed through the dams. The short path leads to a few picnic tables where you can listen to songbirds and watch for waterfowl swimming across the Skootamatta River before disappearing around the far bank.

Insider Tips:

● Unfortunately there are no facilities at Price Conservation Area, but the Skootamatta Picnic Area (pictured above) is located just a short drive east if you need to stop for a bathroom break
● Watch where you’re stepping as there was some poison Ivy growing next to the trails when I last visited – leaves of three, let it be!

Hiking the Highlands at Kennebec Wilderness Trail

The landscape varies in elevation at Kennebec Wilderness Trail, providing a moderate to challenging hike with magnificent views. The trail takes explorers into mixed forests, across bare rock and through grassy wildflower fields buzzing with insects. You can hike alongside ponds to see where some busy beavers have been cutting trees, and up hilltops for a panoramic look at the woodlands and wetlands below.

As this 7 km network of rugged, interconnecting trails wind through the highlands, there are some steep sections, but the tough parts are marked on the map located at the trailhead. Rest assured, the path is well marked, and the side loops have signs indicating length plus the time it takes to complete each.

Insider Tips:

● Take a good look at the large map at the trailhead to pick the best route for you – I downloaded a copy before going but you can take one of the printed copies if available or snap a picture on your phone when you arrive to help guide your exploration
● Unfortunately there are no facilities at the main trailhead at 28786 Highway 7, but there is an outhouse at the second trailhead – access by trail or drive 1.6km east of main lot, north on Henderson Rd., then west on Nordic Rd. to the 2nd parking lot

Off the Beaten Path at Perth Wildlife Reserve

Located on the Tay Marsh, Perth Wildlife Reserve has two easy trails that are perfect for seeking out the sights and sounds of nature. From songbirds chirping and bumblebees buzzing in search of wildflowers, this Conservation Area is ideal for quietly observing the abundant wildlife in their natural habitat.

Take a leisurely stroll through the forest and count the wildflowers, walk through the fields and see how many butterflies you can spot, and listen to the mingling melodies of birds in the trees as you meander through the woodlands. With two beginner trails, you can easily discover the diversity of flora and fauna of this 257-hectare reserve.

Insider Tips:

● Facilities are available down a short grassy path, near the main parking
● Parking is $7 for the day and can be paid via mobile app or by phone
Perth Wildlife Reserve Conservation Area is just 7 km south of Highway 7
● Dogs are not allowed at the reserve, so I’d choose from one of the trails above if you’re traveling with your furry friend

On your next road trip along Highway 7, don’t forget to explore these hidden gems in Ontario’s Highlands – after all, life is about the journey, right? With a diverse range of trails from beginner to challenging, I know you’ll find the right place to stop and smell the wildflowers before continuing on to your destination.

Stories

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 […]

Bikepacking in North Frontenac

Imagine a weekend of backcountry camping in a quiet forest just a few hours from Ottawa or Toronto. As you settle down at camp, you think back to the fresh moose tracks you saw earlier that day and the amazing swim you had when you stopped for lunch. The scenery feels familiar but something’s different. […]

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 […]

Secret Swimming Holes

Shhh…we’re not supposed to tell you about these swimming holes…some of them don’t even have names and you may never find them without a map, but we understand that when it’s 40 degrees out with the humidity and the public beach is packed the hunt is on for the perfect swim spot. Those in the […]

Go Backcountry

You waken slowly in the early morning, the high-pitched warble of birdsong drifting lightly through the trees overhead. The sky is faintly brightening with the coming of dawn, and the natural world is gradually blossoming to life. Around you there is no trace of human activity, no murmurs of voices, clanging of dishes, or whir […]

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

Stretch your legs by exploring these nature hiking trails along Highway 7.

Coming Home

Discover the story of Sarain Fox and her journey home to the Ontario’s Highlands, relieving memories of ice fishing and snowmobiling along the way.

Spring is Calling

Hanging around the city when the scents of spring are tantalizingly tickling your nose is tough. This is when you yearn to get away from the slush, pack the car and head out for an almost-spring getaway to the countryside, where baby animals, maple syrup, G-rated fun, and fresh air are calling. Get out of […]

Spring Break

The sun is warm, the air smells like spring, and the birds are singing their special warm weather songs. It’s official; spring has sprung. After a long Canadian winter, spring getaways are a time-honoured tradition for families here in the great white north, and haven’t we earned a little fun in the sun? This is […]

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!

Fall in Love With Winter

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

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.

Cycle Through Fall

As cooler temperatures arrive and leaves change colour, discover these top places throughout Ontario’s Highlands to cycle in the fall.

The Best Fall Canoeing

Discover these top lakes and rivers in Ontario’s Highlands to discover the beauty of fall colours from a canoe.

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.

Recharge in the Snow

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

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.

Hair-Raising Drives

Explore roads of Ontario with these drives that make you reach for your hairbrush.

Roads Worth Riding

Plan your next motorcycle ride along the hand-crafted roads of Ontario’s Highlands. Wind around vast lakes, to fill up on culinary delights, and converse with friendly locals.