Paddling the Kingston Frontenac Arch Biosphere

By Alaina Leslie

Clear skies, blue water, and great company – there couldn’t be a better way to spend a day. On the weekend I paddled 20 km through Delta and Lyndhurst with the first Paddle the Arch tour of the season. Starting out in Delta, about 40 minutes North of Kingston, everyone loaded into kayaks provided by 1000 Islands Kayaking and launched below the Old Stone Mill. The theme of this tour was “old stones”; our route connected the Old Stone Mill in Delta with Lyndhurst Bridge. My fellow kayakers were mostly well experienced paddlers along with a few people new to the sport (the kayaking guides will gladly give you a quick lesson if you need it).  Most of the paddlers rented kayaks but our guide, John, brought a cedar strip canoe which he artfully soloed on the trip.

 

The Old Stone Mill in Delta, Ontario – the 200 year old mill still produces flour!
The Old Stone Mill in Delta, Ontario – the 200 year old mill still produces flour!

With the refurbished 200 year old Old Stone Mill looming above the small creek we started our tour. We leisurely paddled down the creek to a lake where a “canoeshuk” (a canoeinukshuk) greeted us from across the lake. John informed us the route that we were going to paddle was part of an important trade route for the native Canadians in the area.

 

The canoeshuk outside Delta, Ontario to mark a historic canoe trade route.
The canoeshuk outside Delta, Ontario to mark a historic canoe trade route.

As we continued across the lake and towards a river one of the volunteers, Dave – who was also soloing a canoe, asked if I had spotted the turtles. “What turtles?” I asked. He pointed to a rock and on closer inspection I saw a whole family of turtles diving into the water. “Watch” he said, “they dive down deep and then come up for air. The turtles have been scarce but in the past few years they’ve started to make a comeback!” Even though I’ve spent a fair amount of time outdoors this was the first time I’ve seen turtles diving like that. It’s these quiet moments that make paddling a special experience. We paddled around the bend and took a break at a rock outcropping. Dave pointed out some rare orchids a short walk away from the shore.

 

Rare orchids along our paddling route near Lyndhurst, Ontario.
Rare orchids along our paddling route near Lyndhurst, Ontario.

Soon we reached Furnace Falls in Lyndhurst. Luckily John arranged for a truck-assisted portage so we had an easy job of carrying the paddles to the cottage where we would have lunch. Lyndhurst was another historic site on our trip. Built in 1856 the three-span bridge is constructed from local sandstone and is the oldest standing bridge in Ontario.

 

The oldest bridge in Ontario spans across Furnace Falls in Lyndhurst, Ontario.

Our well-deserved lunch at Redfish Cottages consisted of locally-sourced food from the Frontenac Arch Biosphere. The Biosphere is designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and is, incidentally, the whole purpose of the tour. The Frontenac Arch Paddling Trails’ aim is to protect the biosphere and encourage people to paddle the area by installing paddling infrastructure. The proceeds from the tour all go to support this goal of having a connected paddling trail throughout the biosphere.

Wendy’s Mobile Market provided an amazing lunch of wraps, oatmeal cookies, sparkling apple cranberry cider and local cheeses. I also loved the coffee (I’ll confess, I’m a bit of a coffee snob) which was served with my favourite local grass-fed cream from Limestone Creamery. Wendy can also accommodate special diets if need be.

 

Our gourmet “local flavours” lunch was provided by Wendy’s Mobile Market.
Our gourmet “local flavours” lunch was provided by Wendy’s Mobile Market.

For the afternoon we took a leisurely pace out to Lyndhurst Lake and back. We had the option of doing an additional loop if we were feeling energetic or hanging back for a break. I took the opportunity to do the additional loop and was happy I did because we saw an Osprey dive for a fish. We also got a (very) small taste of whitewater kayaking. I remember when swift-moving water was a formidable concept to me but after a few years of kayaking and completing the Level 1 Kayaking course I actually welcome the sight of swift water! What a great way to end off the day.

 

Our guide, John, points out an Osprey on our paddling trip.
Our guide, John, points out an Osprey on our paddling trip.

The Frontenac Arch Paddling Trails Association is hosting four more tours in the Paddle the Arch series for the 2014 season. The next tour runs June 14th and is a tour around Kingston.