I visited Murphys Point Provincial Park a few years ago when I was hiking the Rideau Trail and I had promised myself that I would come back one day to explore its other trails. Since the park has just opened for the winter season, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to go back and check out its winter trails!
So I had prepared my snowshoes accordingly and had studied the winter trail map online. But maybe I got excited too quickly. When I arrived at the provincial park, I quickly realized that there was no trace of snow on the ground so my snowshoes would be a bit useless.
Murphys Point Provincial Park is one of the few provincial parks in Ontario that remain open during the winter season. There are about thirty kilometres of cross-country ski trails and snowshoe trails, maintained by the Tay Valley Cross Country Ski Club. The trails seemed well marked to me and there are several maps along the route, all that was really missing was the snow.
I admit that I was a little disappointed, but as I had never explored this section of the park, I decided to take advantage of my visit to go hiking. First, I followed the Hogg Bay Loop (one of the winter trails), which took me through the park’s beach, which was completely deserted. The bay was covered with a thin layer of ice, proof that even if snow is lacking, winter is truly here.
Then, since there was no snow and the hiking conditions didn’t seem too bad (despite the cold), I decided to follow the Point Trail. The Point Trail is one of the park’s permanent trails, it is 5.5 kilometres long and it reaches the tip of the Murphys Point peninsula.
As Murphys Point Provincial Park is part of the Frontenac Arch, a granite arch recognized by UNESCO for its importance for biodiversity, the trails found there are typical of those of the area: rugged terrain, small granite ridges, steep climbs and descents. The kind of trail I love!
After a kilometre the trail reaches a small beach, which overlooks Big Rideau Lake. Big Rideau Lake is considered one of the largest lakes in Eastern Ontario and is part of the Rideau Canal waterway. Under the soft December light, it was very peaceful and, as always, magnificent.
The Point Trail continued along the shores of the lake. Here and there between the trees, I could see the deep blue water. Apparently, the Point Trail was designed to provide a glimpse of the rugged beauty of the Canadian Shield. It worked out well, because I was so in awe with this trail that it made me forget the freezing cold and my disappointment of having to leave my snowshoes in my car.
These 5 kilometres on the Point Trail went by quickly. After reaching the end of the peninsula, the trail goes back into the forest to complete a loop which brought me back to the trailhead. The trail is rated of moderate difficulty by the park, but I did not find it particularly hard, other than a few icy areas.
And to my delight, I did not meet the star of the park this time, the famous Black Rat Snake, the largest species of snake in Canada. It was way too cold! But I know this wasn’t my last visit at Murphys Point Provincial Park, because I still have more trails to explore. Starting with the snowshoe trails, when there will finally be snow!