Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: July 2021
Charleston Lake is located in Eastern Ontario. It has been carved out of the Frontenac Axis, which is a narrow extension of the Canadian Shield. The park is situated along a large portion of the lake and offers a variety of activities in and around the water, including boating, paddling, fishing, fishing, swimming, hiking and camping.
Day 1: Cider and Camping
After eating lunch at Rideau River Provincial Park, we hit the road again and drove to Charleston Lake where we planned to spend the next night. Along the drive we stopped at Busl Cidery to sample some cider. We ordered a flight each and drank our cider while sitting on the terrace overlooking an apple orchard and lavender field. We ended up buying four bottles of our favourite flavours afterwards.
We rolled into the park just after 2:30p.m. On the drive to the gatehouse we saw a massive snake cross the road right right in front of the sign to brake for snakes (how fitting).
After checking in, we drove to our site to set up our tent and eat a snack. We then headed back out to do some hiking. We first hiked along the Hemlock Ridge Trail (1.7km loop, rated moderate). There is a small parking lot at the trailhead, which is also located a few hundred feet from the Beech Woods Trail. The Hemlock Ridge Trail winds along a ridge of hemlocks, passes by a beaver pond and leads through fractured sandstone crevices and rock faces. The trail is marked with numbered posts along the trail and signed with blue markers.
We then hiked along the Beech Woods Trail (1.8k, loop, rated easy). The trail passes through a mature beech forest, open oak-sedge meadows, tall hardwood forests and a small pocket of white pine. There are also a few interpretive panels that explain more about life in the forest, on the forest floor, below and in the canopy of leaves and in open clearings in the forest.
The beech and sugar maples looked sickly. The leaves were sparse and in some ways it felt like it was spring. The gypsy moth caterpillars have wreaked havoc in some areas in Southern Ontario, including by the looks of things, Charleston Lake.
Afterwards we went to hike along the Quiddity Trail (2.4km, rated easy). For the first few hundred metres, the trail follows along part of the Tallow Rock Bay Trail (10km loop). The terrain is relatively flat and there are a couple of boardwalks to cross a marshy area.
The path then branches off. The Quiddity Trail to the right and Tallow Rock Bay Trail straight ahead. We followed the signs and kept to the right. The trail leads deeper into the forest, past a portage marker to Killenbeck Lake. The portage looked like it was in rough shape as it was very muddy and overgrown with vegetation. I would not want to be carrying a canoe through that.
The trail then leads to a scenic lookout of Charleston Lake and the beach area. We sat along the rocks to admire the views for a few minutes before turning around and walking back the way we came. We wrapped up shortly after 5:30p.m. But before eating dinner, we decided to go for a swim.
Despite the late hour, the beach was still packed and there were lots of people in the water. We traded in our hiking shoes for flip flops, grabbed our towels, and changed into our bathing suits. The water was surprisingly warm. The swimming area is buoyed off. Since Charleston Lake doesn’t allow motor boats, we swam underneath the buoys towards deeper waters to avoid the other swimmers.
Afterwards we drove back to our campsite to make dinner. We even made a campfire, which was the first on this trip, since it was not raining in the evening.
After the sunset, we got ready for bed. Tomorrow is another day.
Day 2: Views of the Lake
And speaking of firsts on this trip, it didn’t rain overnight. We woke up to blue skies and sun. After making breakfast, we leisurely packed up the car. We then headed out to hike along the remainder of the shorter trails in Charleston Lake.
We started first with the Sandstone Island Trail (2.6km loop, rated moderate). The trail weaves through the forest, passes along the shore of Charleston Lake and features some neat rock and geological features. The trail also features a rock shelter that was used some 1,200 years ago by the Aboriginal people of the area.
We then hiked along the Shoreline Trail (2km loops, rated moderate), which as the name suggests, leads along the shoreline of Charleston Lake and provides fantastic views of the rocky shoreline, windswept pines and islands.
The trail is well-signed with blue markers with a hiker symbol and also has signposts at each of the junctions to assist with navigation. The trail passes by two backcountry campsites (#501 and #502), which can be accessed along this trail or by canoe. Unfortunately both these sites were still occupied, otherwise we would have checked them out. The trail also passes by a picnic site complete with a picnic table overlooking the lake.
We wrapped up our hike shortly before 11a.m and hit the road again. We planned to make two more detours before spending our final night of our road trip at the cabin.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here