I must admit, I hate November. It’s a gray, cold and depressing month. The days are short, the trees have lost their pretty colorful leaves and winter is coming, but not really there yet. In November, I usually lose motivation to go outside. In recent weeks, I have postponed several times the project to continue my hike on the Rideau Trail. But last Sunday, I took my courage in both hands, dressed warmly and went to face November at Gould Lake.
You may remember that last time, Gould Lake took my breath away when I saw it for the first time. I resumed my hike on the Rideau Trail at the same spot I stopped it last time. And when I arrived at the Gould Lake Conservation Area, I quickly realized that, three weeks later, I still thought the lake and its surroundings were breathtaking.
From the point where I stopped my hike last time, the Rideau Trail offers two trail options. The main trail (orange triangles) follows the shores of the lake. The alternative trail (blue triangles, here called the “Ridgewalk”) follows rather the rocky ridge that runs along the lake. I hiked both, and the main trail is by far the most interesting. It offers magnificent views of the lake and has an interesting winding course (the blue trail, meanwhile, did not really offer any views of the lake, even though it follows a higher path).
The Gould Lake Conservation Area protects more than 589 hectares of land around the lake, making it a small wilderness haven where I met a few deer and a porcupine. I don’t know if it was because of the special light of November, the silence of late fall or just the natural beauty of Gould Lake, but my hike seemed magical. I never thought I could find a November landscape so pretty.
The Rideau Trail follows the west shore of the lake to the picnic area and the beach at its southern end. There are several other trails in the area, especially east of the lake, and I would have really liked to follow them all, bewitched as I was by the lake. But I have a goal to reach by the end of the year, and I continued my journey on the Rideau Trail, heading south.
After walking around a swamp and past the ruins of an old farmhouse, the trail joins a gravel road and follows it for a few hundred metres. Then it once again goes into the forest, this time to follow the shore of Knowlton Lake, just as big and as impressive as Gould Lake.
The Rideau Trail offers two lookouts on the lake. Afterwards, you can catch glimpses of the lake behind the pines.
Once again, at this point the Rideau Trail offers two trail options (the orange main trail, and a blue alternate trail) and again, the main trail is the most interesting and steepest, while the blue simply follows a field (but don’t hesitate to follow it if you prefer an easy hike!).
After this portion, the trail follows country roads for five kilometres, a portion that seemed endless and uninteresting (the country roads have no charm in November). Then, after walking on an anonymous trail in a wooded area for a few metres, I arrived at the village of Sydenham, where I was surprised to see the Rideau Trail meeting the Cataraqui Trail again.
I decided to stop my hike for that day after a few metres on the Cataraqui trail. I now have only 40 kilometres left before arriving at the end of the trail! 40 kilometres! But what’s more awesome in all this is that this hike almost reconciled with November. Almost.
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
- Km 195 to Km 215 – A mountain, a bear and a drought in Westport
- Km 215 to Km 250 – A fall walk along the Cataraqui Trail
- Km 250 to Km 270 – Hiking through Frontenac Provincial Park