Come Wander

Local’s Take is a series highlighting the staycation experiences available close to home this summer. The experiences featured in this series were hand curated to highlight fun insider spots in our region. Use these stories as your launchpad to create your own staycations in Ontario’s Highlands. 

Local: Gabriel Rivett-Carnac
From: Ottawa and the Valley
Travelling: Ottawa Valley

My family spent three nights at the Deacon Escarpment Cabins across from Golden Lake. Foy Provincial Park with its famous sandy beach is only 20 minutes away. We capped off our trip with Owl Rafting on the warm Ottawa River for a fantastic multi-day staycation in the heart of the Valley.

Deacon Escarpment Cabins, Camping and Trails

Zac and Steph are the owners and hospitable hosts of the Deacon Escarpment Cabins in Deacon, Ontario. It’s roughly two hours from Ottawa, or two and a half if you also have a toddler. We stayed for three nights in the Sarah Lesley Cabin, high up overlooking Golden Lake.

It was clean and comfortable. BBQ? Check. Fridge and freezer? Check. Propane stove for coffee and a solar shower? Yes, yes it’s all there. Hike the kilometers of marked trails on the property – paddle canoes on a private lake. Listen to the osprey nesting in the cell tower close by as they hunt for their young offspring. The whippoorwills outside the cabin windows at night are a delight. There is a large solar panel kit which keeps the well water pump primed, powers the lights and a USB charging station.

What you need: Bug spray, BBQ foods, hiking shoes, binoculars, bedding and pillows, and don’t forget sense of adventure for the ATV ride up the steep escarpment.

 Foy Beach & Provincial Park

Foy Provincial Park is a day-use park known for its beautiful, sandy beach. Park on the side of the road opposite the locked gate and within a five-minute walk your toes sink in the sand. We spent 3-4 hours with friends playing in the water and having dinner. Luckily, the clouds and mid-week visit gave us the place to ourselves. The swimming area is shallow and the water this year is delightful.

What you need: Bring whatever you need to hit the beach – sunscreen, lots of trees for hammocks – there is a grocery store in Eganville or Barry’s Bay, depending on your direction of travel.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding On Golden Lake

Located 10 mins from the entrance to the Deacon Escarpment and Cabins, Courtney is your host for this Airbnb experience. I’ve known Courtney for a few years and can confirm you are in for a memorable experience. Golden Lake gets its name for the sunsets and the incredible hues that settle on the water. The best part of this is you need no prior experience or equipment.

Owl Rafting on the Ottawa River

The water this year is unusually low and great for all the swimming and splashing. This was going to be the most social interaction in a long time, and I was a bit nervous. Owl Rafting has an online waiver and Covid screening system in place before you arrive onsite. The staff are masked, courteous and very friendly. The resort sits along the bank of the Ottawa River where you can rent cabins or camp. The beach has stand-up paddle boards, canoes and sit-on-top kayaks available for use.

Tim was the lead guide for the day who gave us all a briefing on how the day on the river would proceed. After picking up the necessary gear of a helmet, life jacket and paddle, the yellow school bus, with all windows down, left for where the rafting adventure would begin. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon splashing through rapids, swimming and rock jumping – it was low-key and a great experience coming out of a year of pandemic.

 Mid-afternoon we met up with Owl’s big pontoon boat, which serves as a floating restaurant and to tow all the rafts back to basecamp. The food was delicious, leftovers get saved for the pigs you can visit when you get back and there was lots of space for social distancing.

What you need: Mask, sunscreen, solid footwear (old running shoes, sandals, NO flipflops), long sleeve shirt, not made with cotton,

Whitewater Brewery Dinner in Cobden

This company was started by former raft guides on the Ottawa River. They have two locations, both with large outdoor patios. Their restaurant in Cobden sits just off Highway 17. I do not drink and thankfully they have lots of options if you don’t either. My wife loves their beer and we both enjoyed the food. The kid’s menu kept our little one entertained and the leftovers came with us in a takeout box. The patio tables were well spaced, the staff masked and kind!

Coffee time at Fifth Chute in Eganville

Heading into or out of the Ontario’s Highlands in Renfrew County, a stop at Fifth Chute coffee house comes as a welcome surprise. It’s a coffee shop and fresh bakery hosting an art gallery for local artists. The coffee was delicious and the recommended rock salt chocolate chip cookies were a big hit with both the 36-year-old and the two-year-old.

 

Looking for more staycation experiences? Read these stories next:

2-day Cycling Staycation #InFrontenac

The Joy of Yurting in Hastings County

Overnight in a Caboose in Lanark County

Paddle, Cycle & Stargaze in Lennox & Addington

2-Day Cabin Disconnect in Haliburton Highlands

 

 

 

Stories

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 […]

Food for Thought: Responsible Tourism Through Food

Raise your hand if you’re all about snacks while hiking, camp meals on the fire, or cabin feasts with friends? (we’re going to go ahead and assume that your hand is up because all these things are awesome). Plant life contributes to the ecosystem, meals are the cornerstone of communities, and packing the right food […]

Cycle Through Fall

In my humble opinion, there is no better time than fall to hop on my bike and hit the roads, gravel, and trails of Ontario’s Highlands. I don’t have to worry about overheating, nor will I find myself pushed to my limit while trying to outrun a swarm of deer flies for 20 kilometres (true […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Best Fall Canoeing

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

Retro Campers, a Geodesic Dome, and other Fun Places to Lay Your Head

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. Why sleep in a boring old hotel when you can turn your overnight into an experience all its own? We love discovering new places to lay our heads and the more unique the better. These are the places that are so fun they just […]

5 Spectacular Summer Daytrips

As we head into the last few weeks of summer this is the time to break out the daytrips and make the most of the nice weather. As a short, doable experience within a few hours drive from home, daytrips are like little mini holidays, without the airfare. Whether you live in Ottawa or Toronto, […]

Cycling the K&P: 100 Kilometres from Calabogie to Sharbot Lake

In 2020, my friend Tanner and I set off on an epic bike trip travelling from Sharbot Lake to Calabogie on the K&P and Ottawa Valley Rail Trail (OVRT). This was a 330-kilometre counter-clockwise loop that we planned to tackle in three days. We called this loop the Choo Choo Loop and you can read […]

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 […]

Best Highway 60 Hikes

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 […]

Summertime Happenings: 8 Outdoor Events to Celebrate Summer

It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to gather in person, and the moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. If you have been missing gathering with friends and family to watch a live performance, dance under the stars, or just hang out together, the time is now. Celebrate the summer […]

Cycling the OVRT: Smiths Falls to Arnprior

I love setting goals on the bike; It seems like this happens on a micro and macro level constantly. The first 50-kilometres, then the first century, the first overnight. On the ride, you have these little checkpoints. Energy bars, swims, coffees, calories, hours in the saddle, kilometres in a day. It’s a constant. This became […]

Local’s Take: 2 Day Cycling Staycation #InFrontenac

Local’s Take is a series highlighting the staycation experiences available close to home this summer. The experiences featured in this series were hand curated to highlight fun insider spots in our region. Use these stories as your launchpad to create your own staycation in Ontario’s Highlands. Local: Amy Hogue From: Lanark Highlands Travelling: Frontenac County […]

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

Local’s Take is a series highlighting the staycation experiences available close to home this summer. The experiences featured in this series were hand curated to highlight fun insider spots in our region. Use these stories as your launchpad to create your own staycations in Ontario’s Highlands.  Local: Gabriel Rivett-Carnac From: Ottawa and the Valley Travelling: Ottawa […]

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

*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 […]

Secret Swimming Holes

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. 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 […]

7 of Ontario’s Best Paddling Routes

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. This summer is the year to be on the water, to cast off on an epic paddling adventure that will take you along winding rivers, past shorelines crowded with towering trees, and where the ripples on the water draw you forward with each pull […]

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

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. The game is on to make the most of summer 2021 and the winner gets to spend the summer soaking wet and grinning from ear to ear. Are you up for the challenge? It goes without saying that the best warm-weather activities centre around […]

Responsible Tourism: 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 […]

Making Friends and Finding Adventure: Cycling Frontenac

At the beginning of cycling season, my friend Tanner and I made a plan to bike a long loop of the old railbed. The plan was to follow the old train tracks for three days and to try avoiding the road as much as possible. We were looking forward to feeling the sun on our […]

Swimming in the Wild in Frontenac and Beyond

Imagine entering a body of water and taking it in with all your senses; the feel of your feet touching the rocky, sandy or muddy bottom, the sensation of cool water on your skin, the smell of pine trees in the air, the taste of lake water on your lips – this is what swimming […]

5 Foodie Adventures That Will Get You Somewhere

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  If you’re dreaming of having the best foodie experiences in Ontario, we’ve got your back. Where else can you visit and sample products from craft breweries, distilleries, and cideries, cheese makers, and award-winning eateries that reflect the diverse flavours of Ontario’s Highlands? […]

3 Ways to Play on the Ontario Water Trail

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. Spending time on the water gives the world an almost magical feel. The minutes drift past at the pace of the current around you, and the sun slows the passage of time to a trickle. You are hyper-aware; you are present. When you’re on […]

9 Awesome Bikepacking Routes in Ontario’s Highlands

Stepping into your local outdoor outfitter or bike shop last year to find nothing but empty shelves was a good indication that bikepacking, the activity that combines backcountry camping and off-road cycling, will be a popular option for a COVID-friendly outdoor getaway this year. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran ready to take on multi-day tours […]

9 Sweet Summer Treks

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. These days the warm weather is telling us summer is here and we don’t need to be told twice to get out and embrace the outdoors and the freedom it offers through physical distancing. The best summer hikes not only take us into the wild […]

Thinking of Camping in 2021? Read This.

The ground may be covered by snow right now, but we’re dreaming of the warm weather and the camping season to come in the wild places in Ontario’s Highlands. Camping reservations have recently opened at provincial campgrounds across Ontario and if last year was any indicator spots will book up fast. You can book a […]

Ontario Snowmobile Loops & Trips

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  If you have been longing to cruise along snowy trails where the winter forest towers over you and the rush of the frosty wind fills your ears, this is the year to get out and explore the landscapes close to home. COVID-19 has made […]

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.

Shinny Rinks and Sledding Hills

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  The hill spills beneath the runners of your toboggan, plunging into a darkness made even deeper by the sparkle of snow beneath the moonlight. Your nose is cold but your mittened hands are warm, and your heart is pumping in anticipation of careening downhill […]

Fall in Love With Winter

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

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 […]

Recharge in the Snow

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

Brighten the Darkest Months

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  When the days start getting shorter and the sun becomes something you crave more than chocolate, you know you are entering into the darkest months of the year. It can be easy to feel a little down and dreary at this time […]

Get on Board with Charcuterie

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  You’ve heard the word and maybe you’ve even seen Instagram pics of colourful charcuterie boards, and if you’re lucky you’ve sampled this meaty treat yourself (in case you wondered, it’s pronounced shahr-ku-tuh-ree). Charcuterie is originally a French word that literally translates to […]

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

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  You waken to the sound of new snow drifting onto the top of your tent or cabin, landing light as a feather one snowflake at a time. The world is hushed and the air snaps with cold but you are warm and […]

Embrace the Norwegian Concept of “Friluftsliv”

Friluftsliv (free-lufts-liv): Free air life *Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  If you’re worried about being stuck indoors this winter, the Scandinavians may have the solution with this hard to pronounce and consonant-filled word: friluftsliv. Loosely translated, friluftsliv means “free air life,” a concept that was coined by […]

Cache in with Geocaching in Haliburton

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  You wander through rural communities, along rugged trails, or gravel sideroads, fixated on one thing and one thing only: your next cache. When you are geocaching, you can’t help but become fully immersed in the moment, setting your sights on an outdoor […]

After Turkey Burn

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  Thanksgiving dinner is something we dream about all year long – the perfectly roasted turkey dishes up with cranberry sauce, potatoes and veggies, and often paired with more than one glass of wine or a cold pint of beer or cider, not […]

Tiny Cabins, Yurts, and other Glamping Getaways

So you’ve seen the Instagram posts of friends or family seated around a rustic campfire, enthusing on the beauty of nature and a rugged camping experience, but you’re thinking “That’s totally not for me?” Hey, don’t sweat it, you are not alone. Camping isn’t for everyone, and who says it should be? If everyone were […]

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 […]

Beer, Butter Tarts & Burritos (By Bike)

Could this be Ontario’s tastiest bike route? A natural backdrop of Canadian Shield, shimmering lakes and lush Crown land forests surround you as you pedal down a 50/50 mix of quiet paved roads and gravel rail trails that traverse a series of communities. These small towns and rural hamlets are now known for art and […]

Cozy Up to Fall Camping

So you’re not ready for camping season to end? Here’s a tip: It doesn’t! Just because the summer is over doesn’t mean we need to head indoors, when it comes to camping experiences, fall is where it’s at. Fall camping is an entirely different (and some would say better) experience from summer camping. Sure it’s […]

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

Remember when your whole summer was devoted to swimming, playing, catching frogs, and finding adventures? At one time, this was an entire season fueled by ice cream, Freezies, and hot dogs. August always felt so short, and by the time it rolled around you’d scramble to finish your summer bucket list, savouring each shortened day […]

Cycle Haliburton

What’s your favourite flavour of cycling? Do you prefer digging in off-road, pedaling hard for speed and distance, or just a light taste with a short meander? A bike ride can be what you want to make of it, which is part of the fun, isn’t it? Haliburton Highlands’ varied terrain calls cyclists to explore […]

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. […]

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

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.

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!

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.