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Experience the 1000 Islands by Land
In Eastern Ontario, just off the 401 in the small town of Gananoque, you’ll find some of the most spectacular views in the province. Get up close and personal with the beautiful 1000 Islands and spend a day or two in Gananoque. Wander the waterfront, hike the trails, cycle on the famous parkway all while indulging in its natural beauty. Here are some ways to enjoy the 1000 Islands – no boat required.
Cycling and Hiking
Appreciate the natural wonders of this UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve designated area by cycling or hiking in this area! The 1000 Islands Parkway Trail runs from Gananoque to Brockville following the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River and is considered one of Ontario’s best trails. The 37-km paved trail features historic sites, restaurants, beaches, interpretive rest stops, and even ice cream shops along the way! Spend a day taking side tours to discover the authentic river-front villages.
The Gananoque Trail System is made up of a 12 Km perimeter hike, divided into three loops. Lions Loop is both bicycle and wheelchair accessible. If you are looking for a hike that is a little more rustic make sure you try out the Rogers or River Loops.
The Landon Bay Centre is another popular hiking spot. Officially becoming part of the Thousand Islands National Park in 2015, the selection of trails all offer interesting environmental features; see if you can spot a beaver dam or an osprey nest. Wander through the mature forests to the Lookout where you’ll be awed by a panoramic view of the 1000 Islands.
Gananoque offers many different options for enjoying a leisurely walk in this beautiful part of Ontario. Experience a walk through old Gananoque, meander along the riverside, or if you’re up for more of a challenge, take on a strenuous hike on the Wildwood. These walking trails have various lengths for hikers of all different experience levels. Stroll along the orange diamond signs for a casual experience, or follow the blue hikerman trail signs for a more intense 12km/4 hour walk.
Marble Rock Conservation Area gives hikers challenging and picturesque terrain, featuring breathtaking views at the lookouts along both the North and South Trails. The diversity of the biosphere is evident at Marble Rock Conservation Area, which is rich with flora and fauna. Deer, otters, beaver, blue heron, grouse, frogs, interesting insects and wild turkeys can be seen along the trail. Wildflowers, fungi, mushrooms, lichens, mosses, ferns and many species of trees including mature birch are sights to be seen throughout the conservation area.
Jones Creek is part of the Thousand Islands National Park trail systems and is the perfect place to pull over and stretch your legs as you cruise along the 1000 Islands Parkway. The trail offers plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife and features a fabulous, picturesque boardwalk through the wetlands that connects the upper and lower sections of the trail.
Rock Dunder is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the region and is owned by the Rideau Waterway Land Trust in the small village of Morton. For a small fee you can get access to the three trails that make up the 230 acre wilderness area, with the trails ranging from easy to moderate difficulty. The most popular (and highly instagrammable) trail is the Summit Loop, which takes hikers over a 3.9km climb up to the rock summit for breathtaking, panoramic views of the Rideau waterway. Make sure you bring a camera because the spectacular view at the top is one you’ll want to remember!
Golfing in the 1000 Islands provides a winning combination of unique courses and stunning scenery. Our courses offer natural elevation and panoramas overlooking mature forest and the sparkling waters of the St. Lawrence River. There are numerous courses available in the area to offer the perfect tee time, regardless of experience level. From full courses to driving ranges, avid golfers are sure to be in paradise with the scenic courses and vast selection of clubs available. Those interested in all the courses available in the region should visit our golf specific article here.
The Rideau Canal
Chaffey’s Locks promises the perfect stop on the Rideau Canal. This impressive lock station is a focal point for visitors and locals alike, with stunning views and a plethora of activities to help you make the most of the area. For those visiting the area, Rideau Tours offers the opportunity to experience the canal by water with rentals and guided tours for all experience types. Rideau Tours also offers bike rentals for those inclined to experience the canal by land, or to access the revered Cataraqui Trail. This 104 kilometer trail system connects Smiths Falls to Napanee through a series of paths, fields and communities that make it possible to hike the entire length of the trail. Chaffey’s Locks is also home to the historic Opinicon Resort – originally built as a private residence in the late 1870s and quickly became a favourite destination for fishermen and tourists by 1921 when it was opened to the public. The resort has been renovated and updated to meet modern day demands but retains its iconic appearance and picturesque exterior. It makes for a must-see spot and is the perfect place to grab lunch, dinner or some ice cream during your day out exploring!
Westport is another small community that makes its home along the shores of the Rideau Canal waterway. This picturesque little community hosts a multitude of perfect places to kick back and relax, including the Westport Brewing Company and the Scheuermann Vineyard & Winery, or any number of local restaurants to enjoy a hearty lunch, dinner or grab a snack. Take a walking tour to get the lay of the land, or visit the Rideau District Museum to get the full history of the village. Westport also is home to the Foley Mountain Conservation Area, part of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. Complete with a discovery and interpretive centre, it’s the perfect place to go for a swim or get an aerial view of the village of Westport from the scenic lookout of Spy Rock on their 10km trail system.
For those on a tighter schedule, buckle up and go for a legendary Sunday Drive on the Rideau Heritage Route. Weave through culturally diverse and historic areas along the canal from Kingston to Ottawa and take in the beautiful scenery of rural Ontario.
Starlight, Star Bright in the 1000 Islands
One of the best places for viewing the night sky in all of eastern Ontario is near Gananoque, Ont. in the 1000 Islands region. Charleston Lake Provincial Park is gaining notoriety for its epic star gazing opportunities. The park is embracing its perfect location for viewing the night sky by catering to stargazers. Amateurs flock to Charleston Lake Provincial Park every summer for its astronomy field and a special event that reminds visitors of the awe-inspiring wonder that comes from looking skyward at night.
A specially designated area in the park is available for astronomy enthusiasts, with scrub brush removed and mowed grass maintained throughout the season to create an astronomy alcove. While it’s an integral part of the experience at the park, it’s actually what isn’t there that makes the viewing area special: light. This area is just far enough away from cities and towns so that they are less affected by light pollution here, and have a great, dark sky at night – a key for star gazing.
The 1000 Islands region is an integral part of the UNESCO-recognized, Frontenac Arch Biosphere. It is here that visitors can witness the character of wilderness and communities nestled among this awe-inspiring natural landscape. Immersion in the 1,000 Islands region rewards visitors with stunning scenery and unforgettable moments. Enjoy exploring by land and creating your memories! Make a night of it and stay in the 1000 Islands region; take a look at our accommodations suggestions or find other unique things to do in the enchanting 1000 Islands here.