Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: April 2023
Frontenac Provincial Park is located north of Kingston on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield. It is part of the UNESCO Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve and is situated on an ancient granite ridge linking the Canadian Shield to the Adirondack Mountains. The park is open year-round and offers over 100km of hiking trails through forests and across outcrops, and features several lakes and wetlands.
Given the nice weather forecast over the Easter long weekend, we decided to pack our bags and head to the cabin to spend some time in nature. There was still quite a bit of snow around the cabin, so we made a day trip to Frontenac in the hopes that the trails were less wet and slushy. We arrived at the park in the late afternoon. There were quite a few cars in the parking lot and it looked like some of these people were even backcountry camping. Sure it might be a bit chilly at night, but at least there are no bugs yet.
The park office was closed for the long weekend. But we headed there anyway as this marks the start to a couple of trails in the park: the Doe Lake Loop and Arab Lake Gorge Trail. After crossing a long boardwalk, we arrived at the trailhead for Doe Lake Loop (3km, rated moderate) to the right and Arab Lake Loop (1km, rated moderate) to the left.
We first turned right to hike along the Doe Lake Loop. The path follows the shore of South Otter Lake. The water levels were pretty high and we had to make a few minor detours around the edge of the path to prevent walking through the danger zone. But it wasn’t too bad. It also helped that there are a few boardwalk sections here to help keep our feet dry.
Within the first kilometre, there is a short detour to Kemp Mine. The mine opened in the early 1900s and produced mica, a mineral commonly found in granite. It was short-lived though. There’s a small opening that’s fenced off, but you can somewhat peak inside. All we saw was snow and ice.
We returned to the main path which then leads to a lookout of Doe Lake. The path continues to weave through the forest, passing beaver ponds and more wetlands.
Considering it was mud season, the trail was in pretty good condition. There were a few gnarly areas, but they were easy to negotiate around. It also provided a pretty decent workout with all those rolling hills. There were also a few snow patches still, which we didn’t mind walking through as they helped clean off our boots.
In terms of navigation, the trail is easy to follow. It was well-signed with ten numbered posts and a series of blue markers along the trees. There were also a few signs to indicate distance back to the park office in either direction.
The trail loops back to the trailhead. This time we went in the opposite direction to hike the Arab Lake Gorge Trail. The first stretch follows a boardwalk along the shoreline through the valley floor. There were towering mossy granite rocks on one side and a marshy area on the other side. I’m sure this will turn into a mosquito’s paradise in a few weeks.
The path then leads through a hardwood forest which was once an abandoned farm field back in the day. As we were crossing over to the other side of the valley, we spotted a raccoon in the forest. We don’t see many raccoons during the day, but then we checked the time and realized it was past dinner time.
The trail loops back to the park office. From there we walked along a short connector path to the main parking lot. It was then time to return to the cabin. Hopefully before it got dark (because we didn’t bring our flashlights with us).