*** This text is part of a series of blog posts that I have written on my Rideau Trail hike. To read the other blog posts of that series, click here***
Okay, I think the portion of the Rideau Trail I just hiked is my favourite so far. Yes, I know, I think I say that every time, but I really enjoyed discovering the Westport area for a few kilometres that were far from boring.
The last time, I stopped my hike at Narrows Lock Road and that’s where I resumed it. After a short kilometre in a wooded section, I arrived at the road that ran along the shore of Upper Rideau Lake. Well, I have to admit that this portion was a bit unexciting. Nearly five kilometres on a quiet country lane lined with cottages… Walking along a road is easy, but it quickly gets boring.
Fortunately, I eventually reached the Foley Mountain Conservation Area. And there, the Rideau Trail was at its best! It became steeper as it began to follow the flanks of this small mountain ridge. The temperature was perfect under the trees and I think I could have continued to walk for hours and hours if it was not for the fact that I had eventually to walk back to my car.
The Rideau Trail led me to a small sandy beach on the shores of Upper Rideau Lake. As it was hot, I decided to go walk into the cool water. I had just reached my 200th kilometre on the trail, and yet it was my first time dipping my feet in the Rideau Canal.
I decided to stop my hike for the day and to come back next time with my bikini.
On the way back, when I was almost back to my car, I froze abruptly when I saw a big black silhouette walked slowly on the trail in front of me.
It was a black bear.
This is the first time I see a bear on the Rideau Trail. In fact, this is the first time I see a bear on a hike. I tried to remember what you’re supposed to do in such cases, but I seriously couldn’t think clearly. So I stayed still and waited for the bear to go away. Which it eventually did.
After the bear, I also met a big barred owl and a turkey vulture before arriving at my car. The Rideau Trail spoiled me this time! (a bit too much)
I returned a week later to resume my hike in Foley Mountain Conservation Area. I had thought of bringing my bikini (to enjoy the beach) and bear bells (to stay alive).
The hike at Foley Mountain continued to be enchanting. I also realized how much the heat and the lack of rain this summer was starting to have a visible impact on the trail. The air was dusty and dry, the grass burned by the sun. Some trees even started to lose their leaves. It is difficult to believe that I was struggling with the Rideau Trail last year because it was too wet …
The Rideau Trail gain a bit in altitude to reach the granite peak of this mountain ridge. Although not very high, Foley Mountain offers some nice views of the cute village of Westport, Upper Rideau Lake and Westport Pond. I could have stayed there for hours.
But I had to continue my hike (I’m still hoping I can get to Kingston one day!). I eventually left Foley Mountain Conservation Area, but the trail continued to be steep. The Rideau Trail descends to the village of Westport, passes through the village beach before climbing up again. There are several ascents and descents and some rocky parts. My calves have definitely been put to the test!
After taking a break at the Old Bob Lookout (small detour on a Blue Loop), I continued to follow the mountain ridge and reached the highest point of the Rideau Trail. Well, 200 metres above sea level is not that high, but for a trail that is rather flat, it still seemed like an exciting milestone to reach.
After almost five kilometres on the rocky ridge and in the forest, the trail eventually began to descend towards the road and when I reached it I decided to stop my hike for this time. I know that the next few kilometres will be mostly on country roads and that I will eventually miss being on a forest path. But there will probably be other pretty places to explore before I get to Kingston!
Before leaving, I went for a swim in the Upper Rideau Lake. I’m happy I brought my bikini (my bear bells too, although they are not very effective to keep the snakes away).
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
- Km 180 to Km 195 – Hello Big Rideau Lake