Hidden Gems, Outdoors

Whether it’s sweater weather, parka season, or the sunny days of summer, Kingston has some beautiful places to go for a stroll. If you’re looking for a break from your workday or need a weekend adventure for you and the family, here are some unique places to explore Kingston’s spectacular natural assets and the city’s rich history.





WATERFRONT PATHWAY


Looking for a scenic view of Kingston’s waterfront? Kingston’s Waterfront Pathway is a picturesque 8 km walk from Lake Ontario Park to the downtown core. Along this path you will have the opportunity to see Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, Kingston Penitentiary, the Tett Centre, Fort Frontenac, and many other historic locations in the Kingston area. Accessible parking and pathway access are available. For more information on the path and access to a digital map, please visit this link.





BARRIEFIELD VILLAGE


Barriefield Village was established near the Naval Shipyards and prospered for many decades as an important part in the boatbuilding industry. Did you know that in 1980 Barriefield became the first village in Ontario to become a Heritage Conservation District? It is no secret that Barriefield is filled with rich history and you can explore it on a self-guided walking tour of area. On this self-guided tour, you will be able to relive the history of the village – see where the blacksmith lived and where Peters Grocery resided. For more information on the tour and for a detailed map, please visit this link.





SYDENHAM WARD


Known for its beautiful architecture and historic setting, Sydenham Ward is home to some of the finest 19th-century architecture in Canada. Old Sydenham was designated a historic district in 2015. On your walk through Sydenham Ward, you will stop by some notable buildings including Frontenac County Court House, a building originally designed to house the Parliament of Canada when Kingston was Canada’s capital city; the Spire, a notable 160-year-old landmark that is now a community hub for the arts and not for profit; and Chalmers United Church, which sits on a unique triangular lot where Clergy, Barrie and Earl streets meet. Lace up your sneakers and go take in the beauty of Sydenham Ward today!





QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY


Queen’s University was established in 1841 by a Royal Charter signed by Queen Victoria. Queen’s main campus is located on roughly 100 acres of land on the southwestern edge of downtown Kingston. Its approximate boundaries are King Street in the south, Earl Street in the north, Collingwood Street in the west, and Barrie Street in the east. The campus is home to many beautiful limestone buildings and, given its age, a history full of interesting anecdotes. Did you know that Queen’s landmark building, Grant Hall, was a military hospital during the First World War and used as an entertainment centre for troops and a meal hall during WWII?





LAKE ONTARIO PARK


Providing a natural landscape drawing both visitors and locals, Lake Ontario Park is the largest urban waterfront park in Kingston. Lake Ontario is great for picnicking and scenic walks along the waterfront, including access to the Waterfront Pathway. The park was extensively renovated in recent years and includes accessible walkways to the lakeshore, a cobblestone beach, playground equipment and a sandy beach area.





PORTSMOUTH VILLAGE


Portsmouth Village was founded in 1784 and grew alongside the Kingston Penitentiary, which was located nearby. In its early years, the area included tanneries, breweries and shipyards. The village is also home to Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, which hosted the yachting and boating events for the 1976 Summer Olympics. In present day, the area retains a quaint historic charm with stone and brick homes. A walk through this area will take you along the lakeshore marina and through charming side streets dotted historic homes, ultimately connecting with the Waterfront Pathway.





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Hidden Gems, Outdoors

What better way to spend time than to go on an adventure. Make the most of the beautiful weather by spending it outdoors exploring amazing hiking trails and conservation areas in and around Kingston. Lace-up those hiking boots and check out the featured trails below!


Remember to responsibly enjoy parks and trails: stay with your household, physically distance from others, leave no trace (pack in and pack out all garbage), and dogs must be on a leash at all times.



GOULD LAKE

1540 Gould Lake Road, Sydenham


As a day–use area, Gould Lake offers picnicking, fishing, swimming, and hiking. Gould Lake features approximately 20 km of trails across rolling and rugged terrain. The well-known Rideau Trail, as well as several side loops, can be found within the conservation area. Its wetlands, woods, and shoreline areas provide many opportunities for wildlife viewing and nature appreciation. Let us know what wildlife you see!


Difficulty level: intermediate to advanced


Price: Adults: $5.00, children (12 & under): $3.50, max. fee per car: $15, annual pass: $85


Hours of Operation: 7:30 am to dusk daily






LEMOINE POINT

1440 Coverdale Drive, Kingston


As a popular and heavily-used conservation area, Lemoine Point offers picnicking, cycling, swimming, and hiking. Lemoine Point is home to approximately 11 km of hiking trails that cross flat to gently rolling woodland, field, and marsh area. As you hike the trails, you can find hidden gems such as scenic lookouts and beaches. This conservation area is bordered by Lake Ontario and Collins Bay, so you are sure to get a scenic view!


Difficulty level: beginner; family-friendly

Price: Free, donations are accepted

Hours of Operation: 7:30 am to dusk daily






LITTLE CATARAQUI CREEK

1641 Perth Road, Glenburnie


At Little Cataraqui Creek you can connect with nature during all four seasons. Here, there are marsh, field, and forest habitats for nature appreciation. Additionally, there are opportunities for education and outdoor recreation. Little Cataraqui Creek offers picnicking, fishing, bird watching, and hiking trails for their visitors to enjoy. This conservation area is home to approximately 14 km of hiking trails through mostly flat terrain. These trails are a great escape for the family to enjoy together!


Difficulty level: Beginner; family-friendly

Price: Adults: $5.00, children (12 & under): $3.50, max. fee per car: $15, annual pass: $85.

Hours of Operation: 7:30am-dusk daily





LYN VALLEY

90 Lyn Valley Road, Lyn


Lyn Valley may be small, but it is one of the busiest conservation areas in the region. Lyn Valley offers a swimming area, picnicking, and hiking trails. With just 1 km of hiking trails, it is perfect for the little ones to get out and explore nature! The hiking trails are on flat terrain and offer opportunities to appreciate what nature has to offer.


Difficulty level: beginner; family-friendly

Price: Free, donations are accepted

Hours of Operation: 7:30 am to dusk daily





PARROT’S BAY

4976 Bath Road, Kingston


As Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority’s newest conservation area, Parrot’s Bay offers woods and wetlands with beautiful waterfront views. Parrot’s Bay offers picnicking, fishing, and hiking. Hiking trails are approximately 6 km in length and cross both woodland and wetland habitats. Parrot’s Bay trails feature a viewing deck and osprey nesting platform. Keep an eye out for ospreys on your hike!


Difficulty level: beginner; family-friendly

Price: Free, donations are accepted

Hours of Operation: 7:30 am to dusk daily






K&P TRAIL

The trail can be accessed from many locations. The trail continues into South Frontenac Township.


The K&P Trail is a multi-part trail, offering a mix of urban and rural trails. The trail is open year-round and gives the opportunity for visitors to walk through natural open landscapes, rock cuts, wetlands, and historic Kingston. The 22 km trail is divided into two distinct sections: the 7 km paved, urban trail and the 15 km gravel, rural trail. For more information on access points, please visit the City of Kingston’s website.

Recently, Frontenac Trail Tours has begun single and multi-day guided cycling tours. Each tour takes cyclists down the K&P trail, stopping for snacks featuring locally sourced food and to visit local artisan shops. Their multi-day tours will also include stays at local B&Bs and a ride on the historic Wolfe Island Ferry. For more information on these tours, please visit //www.frontenactrailtours.ca/.


Difficulty level: beginner; family-friendly

Price: Free

Hours of Operation: N/A





THOUSAND ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK

1121 Thousand Islands Parkway, Mallorytown


As Canada’s oldest National Park east of the Rockies, Thousand Islands National Park offers three mainland hiking locations. This park boasts of its sanctuary of scenic lookouts, rugged rock faces, and tall stands of pine.


Mallorytown Landing(1121 – 1000 Islands Parkway, Mallorytown): As the main location of Thousand Islands National Park, there are opportunities to picnic, fish, swim, and hike. Here, there are approximately 3 km of hiking trails. These trails are on mostly flat terrain and are beginner-friendly. Be sure to get a picture posing in the set of Parks Canada red chairs!


Jones Creek (1270 – 1000 Islands Parkway, Mallorytown): At this location, visitors have access to over 20 km of hiking trails. Trails cross a variety of differing landscapes and are rated medium to difficult. These trails feature a set of Parks Canada red chairs and a scenic lookout.


Landon Bay (302 – 1000 Islands Parkway, Lansdowne): Landon Bay offers six different trail networks that range in difficulty from low to medium. These trails are approximately 6 km in length. Be sure to check out the Lookout trail to get your next social media worthy picture!


Difficulty level: Beginner to advanced; some trails are family-friendly

Price: $6.80 per car, some additional fees may apply

Hours of Operation: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm





FRONTENAC PROVINCIAL PARK

6700 Salmon Lake Road, Sydenham


Frontenac Provincial Park is well-known in the Kingston region for its hiking and trail systems. This park offers fishing, swimming, paddling, and hiking. Frontenac Provincial Parks boasts well-planned trails and rugged terrain. With many trails, this provincial park has approximately 100 km of trails for you to explore! For a full list of trails and how to access them, please visit their website.


Difficulty level: intermediate to advanced

Price: $12.25 per car, some additional fees may apply

Hours of Operation: 8 am to 8 pm





ADDITIONAL HIKING AND TRAIL LOCATIONS

Mac Johnson Wildlife Area

Debruge Road, north of Brockville. (south access on Centennial Road)



Marshlands Conservation Area

1214 Trailhead Place just off King Street in Kingston



Marble Rock Conservation Area

Marble Rock Road, Gananoque, Ontario



Charleston Lake Provincial Park

148 Woodvale Road, Lansdowne, Ontario



Foley Mountain Conservation Area

105 Foley Mountain Lane, Westport



Waterfront Pathway

An 8 km public waterfront pathway connecting to the downtown core extends from the King Street, near 1098 King St. W to Emma Martin Park.



A big thank you to Queen’s University student, Riley Stewart-Patterson, for sending over resources regarding trails that are currently open around Kingston!



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Outdoors

Lemoine Point Conservation Area is an adventure for every season and just waiting to be explored. Bordered by Lake Ontario and Collins Bay, Lemoine Point is an array of forest, field and marsh with a spectacular waterfront.



Owned and operated by the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority, the main goal is to maintain a balance between the protection of the natural environment and recreational uses of the area. With care and respect, Lemoine Point is home to ‘friends’ who volunteer their time to undertake activities to promote public awareness and enjoyment. And indeed it is, Lemoine Point is an oasis for outdoor enthusiasts. With a slew of seasonal activities, there has been a great-sustained effort to nurture this wilderness and appreciate the rugged landscape that comes with it.

Oddly enough, within city limits, Lemoine Point is the perfect gateway from the city. Away from the hustle and bustle of people in a hurry, there is a sense of tranquility to the landscape. Nature comes to life with each step you take. All year round, this area exhibits unique features such as vegetation, sounds and animals. Colours are constantly changing with the seasons, making it a photographer’s paradise. With scenic lookout points, there are endless opportunities for wildlife viewing and nature appreciation of wildflowers, butterflies and birds, which are most popular during the summer at Lemoine Point.


It is hard to believe that this little oasis is accessible to those of all ages. From young couples walking hand in hand, children laughing profusely to old loves, Lemoine Point is home to making sweet memories. With 11 kilometers of trails, there is no need to feel crowded. Whatever the season, people brave the weather for the myriad of hiking and cross-country trails available along with designated bike paths.

Benches are spread through out the conservation to rest, enjoy the view or a good book. Friendly smiles are of the norm and expect to strike up a conversation with fellow passerby and dog walkers.

Free to use, easy to get to and plenty of parking space, Lemoine Point is a wonderful spot for a day trip with friends and family. Conveniently located next to Rotary Park, play structures, swings and barbecues can be found along with a baseball diamond and a dog park. Picnic and ball anyone?

Don’t forget to pack a bathing suit and a towel when visiting in the summer, as you can end your day with a refreshing dip in Lake Ontario on a stoned beach located at the north end of the conservation area.

Promoting a healthy lifestyle and picturesque scenery, Lemoine Point visitors can enjoy lovely foliage in the fall, white-tailed deer sightings with the first snow fall, fresh flowers blooming in the spring and paddlers gliding by on Lake Ontario under the summer sun.



Fun tidbit:

Make sure to pack a camera and bird seeds as some of Bambi’s friends may just come out to say hi and feed right out of your hand. From squirrels and chipmunks to chickadees and even woodpeckers, you can expect the unexpected at Lemoine Point Conservation Area.

More information:

Accessible via two entrances | Front Road & Bath Road
www.cataraquiregion.on.ca

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Outdoors

When you walk along King Street’s waterfront on a beautiful summer day, you will see a crowd of summer-loving beachgoers of all ages shaking out their towels, jumping into Lake Ontario, holding their toddler’s hands as they wade and splash into the shallow pebble beach; friends digging into their box lunches from Juniper Cafe (it’s just around the corner) or walking hand-in-hand over the pedestrian bridge towards Gord Edgar Downie Pier. It’s a sight that truly encompasses the spirit of summer in a city that values its access to Lake Ontario.


Today, Breakwater Park can be used by just about anyone for anything. There are grassy hills to enjoy a picnic, lots of sand for the full beach experience, a pier to make cannonballs off of over and over again as well as a shallow area perfect for young kids who might still need water wings. If you’re not much of a swimmer but like long walks or like to walk your dog with a view, you can do that here with the soothing sound of the waves crashing on the rocks in the background. It’s exactly what Kingston needs. A place for everyone to enjoy — from parasailers to sunbathers and everything in between.


In 2017, the “Great Lakes Challenge” encouraged communities to restore the lakes and that led to a $500,000 donation from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation to the Gord Edgar Downie Pier (located across the pedestrian bridge.) Once this donation was made, further funding from the City of Kingston and the provincial and federal governments helped broaden the scope of park improvements. This redevelopment is part of the Kingston Waterfront Master Plan and puts Kingston on the map as Canada’s first urban natural swimming pier.


If you’re wondering how the pier earned its name, The Tragically Hip’s late lead singer, Gord Downie, lived across from the original pier and was a board member and Swim Drink Fish ambassador. Swim Drink Fish is an organization that strives to sustain swimmable, drinkable, fishable water for everyone. They educate to empower people to safeguard their waters. Their efforts through Lake Ontario Waterkeeper launched in June 2001.  Sixteen years later once the Breakwater Park project was underway, Kingston City Council voted unanimously to name the renovated dock after Downie. The name “Edgar” was included in the naming of the pier to honour Downie’s father. His brother, Patrick, explained to reporters that it was a fitting tribute and that the park “has been the backdrop of our entire family life and the one constant through the good times and the bad. When we think of home, this beautiful piece of shoreline is what we think of.”


Thanks to all of the incredible efforts in restoring this site and making it a leader in swimmable, drinkable, fishable water restoration, this shoreline will continue to be the backdrop to amazing memories for Kingstonians and visitors for years to come. 

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Outdoors

We’re perfectly located right on the water with the Frontenac Arch in our backyard — filled with great cycling options for every skill level (the views don’t hurt either). Hiking trails, city walking tours and unique indoor activities all come together to keep Kingston full of free and low-cost means of getting the blood pumping all year long. Keep reading for a few of them along with a few others that’ll be money well spent.


Biking: Wolfe Island


With its lack of traffic, few hills and pastoral vibes, Wolfe Island is on any local cyclist’s must-pedal list. The free ferry to get there from downtown Kingston takes only 20 minutes, and once you land and get rolling, you’ll be treated to a 30-kilometre-long, 10-kilometre-wide island with farmland and those famous windmills on the interior, and cottages and rocky shorelines on the periphery. If you have time, stop by Big Sandy Bay for one of the best beaches in the region.


Climbing: The Boiler Room


What was once the boiler room for a 19th-century Woolen Mill is now a state-of-the-art climbing gym with Canada’s highest indoor ascent. If the 100-foot chimney climb sounds like too much, find your wall in one of two rooms, where there are 40 ropes and over 80 climbs to choose from whatever your skill level. Beginner and advanced lessons and programs are available, as are change rooms, showers, lockers, equipment, snacks and drinks.


Walking: Haunted Walks


A guest at Kingston’s Hochelaga Inn wakes up in the night and sees a black figure at the foot of her bed, laughing. Nils Von Schoultz, hanged in 1838, still haunts Fort Henry. True stories or urban myths? You decide on a guided haunted walk through Sydenham Ward featuring tales of haunted hotels, hidden burial grounds, grave robbings and hangings at the courthouse.


Sailing: Kingston Waterfront


Sure, you can take the Wolfe Island ferry to see Kingston’s skyline, but in a sailboat — or canoe or kayak, for that matter — you’ll see it from whatever perspective you want. Launch at one of these spots, and in a couple of meandering hours, you’ll pass by the historic Kingston Penitentiary and Queen’s University, the contemporary Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, and the iconic City Hall. Start with Ahoy Rentals for rentals, lessons and guided tours.


Swimming: Aqua Fit


According to the Aquatic Exercise Association, aquatic fitness is gaining in popularity; the number of certified instructors has jumped by over 50% since 2009. And no wonder. Whatever your age, who wouldn’t enjoy a low-impact workout focused on aerobics and muscle conditioning in a warm pool? Drop in to give it a try at the Kingston YMCA or most days of the week in the spring and summer at Artillery Park.


Hiking: K&P Trail


This former rail line for steam trains is now an easy 15-kilometre hiking trail where you can hop on and off at six different access points. At one end is Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area; at the other are vistas of the Glenvale Creek Wetland. In between, you’ll pass through meadows, farmlands, forests, rock cuts, marshes and stops of interest that include the site of the old Glenvale train station. Keep in mind that this isn’t a looped trail, so have a ride waiting when you get to the end, or just turn around and hike it again.


Working Out: Drop-in Fitness Sessions


Not ready or willing to commit to one type of activity? Then hit up the City’s drop-in fitness classes at Artillery Park or the INVISTA Centre. At last count, 15 classes made the list ranging from Zumba and morning yoga to spin classes and kickboxing. You can also just drop in to use the pools, saunas and gym equipment on your own.

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