Hiking in Frontenac Provincial Park in the Spring

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).


82 thoughts on “Hiking in Frontenac Provincial Park in the Spring

  1. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    Oh yes, that will definitely turn into a mosquito haven. It’s always a good choice to hike around them, even if it’s muddy or cooler or both. I prefer mud over mossies every time! Looks like you had nice early spring weather. Cheers.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh, me too. I’d take the mud over the bugs anytime. I figure we have maybe one mosquito-free weekend left before the blood bath begins. We might as well make the most of it!

  2. Vanessa says:

    I’ve done these trails last winter, but it’s interesting to see how different they look without the snow! Frontenac is one of my favourite Ontario provincial parks, so many trail options!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny how a trail and scenery can look so different depending on the season. We’ve hiked these two trails before in the winter too. Our cabin isn’t too far from Frontenac so we tend to come here a lot. It’s one of my favourite provincial parks as well. We’ve been talking about backcountry camping here. Maybe next time.

  3. Ab says:

    Looks like a nice Spring hike! I can feel the muddiness of the walk though and keep thinking about my little one stomping onto the puddles. 😆 That fenched-in mine opening is kinda cool and creepy at the same time. I wonder how many people climb over the fence to gander a closer peek inside!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The trails were in pretty good shape considering the time of the year. And it was better than trying to slog through slushy snow near the cabin. So we’ll take it! I bet you’re right about how some people have probably climbed over the fence for a better view. There are people like that everywhere who ignore the warning signs (and lack common sense)! The trails should be significantly less muddy this weekend given the warm weather the forecast is calling for this week. It’ll be a nice change of pace.

  4. wetanddustyroads says:

    Ha, “no bugs” yet … glad you could miss mozzie paradise by a few weeks! I like your views of the lake – it’s always nice to walk along the water, isn’t it. And what a lovely blue sky you had on your walks!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh the mozzie blood bath will probably begin any day now. I’ll take the muddy trails over the bugs every time. I completely agree about how being by the water is always nice, whether it’s along a hike or just in general. Plus it’s a great spot to watch the sunrise or sunset.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. They’ll be out with a vengeance any day now, especially given the warm weather this week. We’ve been trying to get as much hiking in as we can as we typically take a break from the trails during bug season.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Frontenac is located close to our cabin so we tend to come hiking here a lot. There are plenty of hiking options, so even when the parking lot is full, the trails never really feel full. It’s awesome.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. We tend to take a break from hiking once the mosquitoes come out (which will only be a matter of days now), so we’re trying to make the most of the nice weather, even if the trails aren’t in the best condition.

  5. Pj & Jane says:

    Your photos and descriptions– i felt like i was there and now we definitely want to go there! Thank you

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. It was a beautiful day to go for a hike. Even though the trails can be a bit muddy in the early spring, the bugs and crowds aren’t out yet, which is always a bonus.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We’ve had a very rainy spring so far here in southern Ontario, so it was nice to take advantage of the sunny weather by hitting up the trails. Frontenac is located close to our cabin so we tend to come here a lot. It’s one of my favourite parks.

  6. ourcrossings says:

    That’s a wonderful park, Linda and such a beautiful trail. I love heading out in spring as it often brings with it pleasant temperatures, roaring waterfalls and unique wildlife sightings, often including baby animals frolicking in spectacular landscapes. Not to mention the absence of bugs. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Frontenac is one of my favourite parks. It’s close to our cabin so we’ve been able to spend a lot of time here over the years. The trails can be a bit rough in the spring when all the snow starts to melt, but it’s a wonderful way to see all the new life starting to emerge. Plus as you said, there are some great opportunities to view the wildlife. The bugs aren’t out yet, but they’ll be here soon. That’s generally when we take a break from hiking. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your week. Linda

  7. Thattamma C.G Menon says:

    After winder now slowly leaves all coming so many trees , very beautiful to view all photos and the explanations of
    Spring season modifying 🌹🙏♥️the nature wonders dear friend 🌹🙏♥️🌹

  8. Mike and Kellye Hefner says:

    What a perfect place to hike! There is something about being on the edge of water that makes a hike that much more special. I loved the scenery, though that mine shaft looks awfully scary. Have a great week ahead.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. There’s just something so relaxing about being by the water. And this park has no shortage of lakes, ponds and wetlands. Thanks for leaving a comment. Enjoy the rest of your week. Linda

  9. Little Miss Traveller says:

    What a clear, sunny day for your walk and the water looks so clear and completely still. We’ve had quite a lot of muddy stretches to contend with recently but thankfully I’veI managed to avoid slipping.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This was our first glimpse of spring with warm weather and blue skies. I couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy it than by being outside on the trails, even if it was a bit wet and muddy. Thankfully we’ve never fallen from the mud either, but there have been some close calls.

  10. elvira797mx says:

    Wow! Wow! Lovely, beautiful and very calm park! Great post!
    Love the tones of blue in your photos, amazing! Invites to feel in peace.
    Thank’s for share Linda. Have a wonderful week!
    Keep well.

  11. kagould17 says:

    The early spring landscape may still be a bit brown, but it is so nice to be able to get out and walk without slipping and sliding or trudging through deep snow. Some interesting hikes in this park Linda. A great variety of hikes and terrains. Thanks for taking us there. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Frontenac is near our cabin so we’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring the trails. It was so nice to finally have some spring-like weather. We couldn’t think of a better way to take advantage of it than by being outdoors.

  12. Laura says:

    How lovely to hike along the perimeter of the lake like that- it looks so peaceful. I am with you on preferring this time of year for hiking despite some muddy terrain- the weather is just perfect with no humidity and few, if any, bugs! 😊

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Frontenac has no shortage of lakes and wetlands, which are always enjoyable to pass while hiking. I find there’s something so relaxing and peaceful about being by the water. And hey, I’ll take the mud over the bugs (and crowds) any day.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I completely agree. I’m such a fan of trails with a boardwalk. It’s a great way to see an area that would otherwise have been inaccessible to us hikers. I can’t imagine some of these boardwalks would have been very fun to install though, especially in the wetlands. So I am very much appreciative.

  13. NortheastAllie says:

    This seems like such a beautiful spot to hike in early spring. I have to agree with you on the bugs as well, it is a lot more fun hiking when there are not a lot out yet! Your landscape photos are always very lovely!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Frontenac is located close to our cabin so we tend to hike here a lot. It was nice to take advantage of the early spring weather and hit the trails before the bugs and crowds appear. The trails can be a bit dodgy with all the spring melt, but we’ve been through much worse. It was well worth it.

  14. Bama says:

    Looking at your photos after dealing with what has been so far a very hectic week is very soothing. I love the blue and the green, the dry grass and the lakes. So peaceful. Glad there were no mosquitoes when you went!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Sorry to hear that you had a bit of crazy week. At least it’s almost the weekend now. Hopefully you can take some time and relax. Spending time in nature is my happy place. We had wonderful weather for hiking and it was nice to see some early signs of spring on the trail. Plus there were no bugs yet, which is always a huge plus. They are starting to come out now, so we’ll likely be taking a break from hiking for a couple of months.

  15. michellecj333 says:

    So beautiful! It’s so interesting to see how different that far North with trees still bare at Easter! How nice to get to enjoy some cooler temps a bit longer- we are already sweltering hot down here!! Always enjoy seeing your beautiful photos!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m such a fan of the early days of spring when the weather is starting to get warmer, but the nights are still cool. All our trees are now covered with leaves, which seemed to just magically happen overnight. The bugs have started to come out too though, which is my least favourite part about this time of year.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. Frontenac is one of my favourite parks and places to go hiking. The scenery is stunning and there are a lot of different trails to chose from.

  16. BrittnyLee says:

    That mine is neat !! Too bad you couldn’t see past the snow and ice, though. There are mine openings in the woods behind my gram’s house. It’s interesting but also sad thinking about people crawling into those tight space to mine. I’m very claustrophobic so I could never mine. The land there is stunning. I bet along with the mosquitos, there would be a lot of birds. Matt and I love this area near us that has some marshy areas. The birds are always hanging around there. I saw some warblers recently. They have such a pretty call. I wish spring and summer didn’t have mosquitos or that mosquitos didn’t like people lol 🤣

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Even without the snow and ice, I’m not sure there would be much to see inside the dark pit. But it was still interesting and provided a better understanding of the history of the area. It’s neat that there are mine openings near your gram’s house. I imagine they are closed off, but are you able to find them? And I completely agree about how mining seems like tough work. It’s definitely not for me!

      I’m a huge fan of wetlands and marshy areas too. It’s amazing how much life they support. They tend to become bug festivals later in the spring and summer though, which isn’t fun. Especially if you’re one of those people that mosquitoes love (and I am one of those people).

      • BrittnyLee says:

        I can one of those people too, unfortunately. Lol yes! My cousin and I went inside one of the mine cave entrance. It was spooky and cold and pitch black. There was an eerie silence you can’t replicate, too

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        So you definitely feel my pain then! I saw an article the other day about how the mosquitoes are especially worse this year. It’s brutal even in our own backyard. I can only imagine what the trails are like. That’s neat that you got to go inside an entrance to a mine. It’s hard to imagine how people work there and in such rough conditions.

      • BrittnyLee says:

        My great grandfather was a coal miner. He died of black lung. It scares me to think about going so deep under ground, not knowing what you’ll come across. They didn’t get paid much either for their toil. I’m grateful there are better jobs now. Do you have any ancestors that mined ?

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Coal mining is tough work, especially back then when there weren’t many concerns for workers’ health and safety. Agreed, they didn’t get paid enough to deal with those treacherous conditions. I don’t believe anyone in my family was ever in the mining business.

      • BrittnyLee says:

        I can’t even imagine logging. I get sleepy just thinking about it lol 😂. God bless those people for working so hard. We need them for sure.

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