Summer has officially arrived, I’m a little less busy at work and the caterpillar invasion in the area now seems over. I had no more excuses not to resume my hike on the Rideau Trail.
I had a few more kilometres to complete to get through Murphys Point Provincial Park and it was there that I resumed my hike. To my delight, the Rideau Trail was a bit steeper than usual. There were several short ascents and descents, some rocks to climb and streams over which I had to jump.
Then the Rideau Trail took me to a rocky escarpment, giving me a magnificent view over the Big Rideau Lake. I was completely amazed by the scenery for a few minutes (until two snakes crawling on the rocks brought me back to reality).
It was then that I realized that I was now observing the Rideau Canal, which I had not seen since Smiths Falls. But while in Smiths Falls the canal was still following the course of the Rideau River, here the canal had become a lake.
The Rideau Trail continues to follow the north shore of Big Rideau Lake for a few kilometres. After leaving Murphys Point Provincial Park, it follows some gravel roads, leaving them here and there to cross small woodlands. I stopped my hike when I reached the Big Rideau North Shore Road, and came back to the same point a week later.
We were then in the midst of a heat wave (the thermometer oscillating over the 40-degrees mark), but a light wind seemed to be coming from the lake, which I could sometimes see between the trees and the cottages. The Rideau Trail continued to be steeper than usual, passing through a few rocky escarpments and skirting several beaver ponds.
In fact, while trying to cross a beaver dam, my foot slipped into one of these ponds and my hiking boot was completely immersed. I had to continue my hike with a wet foot, which reminded me of good memories of the Rideau Trail last year (please read my sarcasm here).
There are two “blue” alternative trails in this area, and I have both hiked them. The first is about 800 meters and leads to a “ghost town”. Although the ghost town in question consists of two old buildings in ruins, to which I could not get closed because of many thorny bushes. Luckily, there were a lot of delicious wild raspberries on the trail, so I didn’t come back of there too disappointed.
The second blue trail offers a 1.3-kilometer alternative route to a portion of the Rideau Trail on the Big Rideau Plateau. It was actually quite interesting. It passes through several rocky areas, near several beaver ponds and on beautiful mossy carpets of all colors. A curious deer even followed me for a few metres.
Following this alternative trail has not been easy though. The trail was often barely visible and, in many places, covered with brush. The blue arrows are also much less common than the orange arrows on the Rideau Trail and I sometimes had trouble finding my way. I came back of it with scratched legs, and eventually realized that I had followed the trail in the wrong direction and ended up coming back at the beginning of the trail instead of moving forward.
I still managed to reach Narrows Lock Road, where I decided to stop my hike for this time. Before leaving, I made a detour a few metres further south to see the Narrows lock, connecting the Big Rideau Lake to the Upper Rideau Lake. It is not part of the Rideau Trail, but on that beautiful sunny day, I was happy to sit on the banks of the Rideau Canal to watch the boats go through the locks. There is even a blockhouse nearby, the second I come across since Merrickville!
Although I have completed this portion of the trail with wet feet, scratched legs and the onset of heat stroke, I think this is one of the sections I loved the most so far. I must be a little masochist.
My journey on the Rideau Trail:
- Km 1 to Km 5 – Year goal: 150 kilometers on the Rideau Trail
- Km 5 to Km 25 – Along the Ottawa River
- Km 25 to Km 35 – In the wilderness of Stony Swamp
- Km 35 to Km 50 – On the country roads
- Km 50 to Km 80 – Marlborough Forest and its horseflies
- Km 80 to Km 100 – Hello Rideau Canal
- Km 100 to Km 125 – A fall hike in Smiths Falls
- Km 125 to Km 150 – 150 kilometres later
- Km 150 to Km 155 – I’m back, and with a new goal
- Km 155 to Km 175 – Entering the Mica Mines area
- Km 175 to Km 180 – That time it was raining caterpillars at Murphys Point Provincial Park