By Christopher Mitchell, Traveling Mitch.
As of late, I’m overcome by the feeling that there is simply no other place I’d rather be than in the great outdoors. I don’t care if I have reception or data even, because it feels like I’ve got something more. And, sure, there’s always a to-do list on my desk that’s waiting to get done, but when I’m immersed in the outdoors, it’s remarkable how much less daunting that to-do list feels.
The worries that felt nearly suffocating in my relatively small Toronto home office seem to dissolve into thin air when I’m in the open air.
It’s also easy to think of tourism and exploration through the narrow lens of museums, restaurants, or really just other man-made structures. I’d passionately argue that, in Ontario, some of the best opportunities we have to learn and explore are outside of the confines of four walls.
Our woods, night skies, lakes, and trails are “museums” in their own right and, quite frankly, we’re blessed to have the opportunity to visit them so often.
Recently, I had the opportunity to explore the outdoors of Lennox and Addington County, and what I experienced was memorable to say the least. Memorable enough that I’d love to share some highlights with you to help you in your own exploration, and to enable you to find your zen in a region that will provide you ample opportunities to do just that.
How to Make the Most of the Outdoors in Lennox & Addington
Here are some of the highlights from my recent visit to L&A that I’d recommend to just about anyone who is looking to escape the house for an afternoon, a weekend, or as long as it takes to hit the refresh button.
Take Part in the Discover L&A Ride
The Discover L&A Ride is a cycle route that aims to showcase the beauty of Lennox and Addington’s natural surroundings, while also highlighting the small businesses that make this region special. The actual event is taking place on September 24th this year (and you can find tickets here), but you can also do it of your own accord.
The route is about 58 kilometres, which seems like a lot for someone who isn’t that into cycling, but it’s nicely broken up into stops. The stops include the Hive & Hearthstone, the Old Hay Bay Church, Bergeron Estate Winery & Cider Company, 33 Vines, Loyalist Trading Co., Gap Park, and Finkle’s Shore Park.
I wrote a very in-depth article over on my site all about this ideal day of cycling in Lennox & Addington, and I’d encourage you to check it out if you want all the nitty gritty details.
Break Out the Fishing Rod
I will be the first to admit that my fishing skills are, shall we say, lacklustre. I’m not the squeamish passenger who won’t touch a fish or worm, by any means – it’s more that fishing requires patience, and I’m not a terribly patient person.
Well, I’ve come to realize as of late that fishing isn’t always about “fishing.” It’s sometimes about buying yourself a block of time out on the water with some good people, and not being attached to the outcome (how many fish you caught), but rather enjoying the process (cruising on Lake Ontario).
Bri (my partner) and I were enormously fortunate to have Matt and Ryan from Apex Waterfowling on our side. When we arrived at the dock near Hay Bay just as the sun was poking its head up, they already had the boat ready to go. Both Bri and I have a background in education, and I want to note what remarkably patient teachers Ryan and Matt were with us.
When we hopped on the boat, we couldn’t cast a fly to save our lives, and by the end, we were landing fish that felt like a workout just to hold up! We had a nice block of time to play with, and I gave in to the meditative state that fishing offers. I was simply casting and reacting, and then reeling in the line and doing it all over again.
Both Bri and I left the dock in the early afternoon feeling as if the whole experience had to be in the running for the best fishing experience we’d had. Part of that was the absolutely stunning scenery (especially early in the morning), but it was also very much the guidance from Matt and Ryan.
You can check out the link up above if you’re looking to book something, and they assured me that they tailor each trip to each client’s wants and needs.
Visit Amherst Island
When Bri and I left Amherst Island, we both felt as if it was an absolute hidden gem for Ontario outdoor lovers, as well as those intrigued by Ontario history. The island measures about 20 kilometres by 7 kilometres, so it’s very manageable in size, and it’s the perfect spot to go and explore for a day (or longer if you’ve got the time).
Amherst is one of the largest islands in the Great Lakes, and it’s quickly become one of my favourites. Before you go, I do want to stress that, being an island, we need to be sure to treat Amherst with respect. You don’t want to leave anything behind (such as garbage), or litter its beaches. Ecosystems on islands are inherently more fragile.
As far as what to do on the island, well there’s plenty. Bri actually wrote an in-depth article for our sister site, Ultimate Ontario, quite literally called “Exploring the Hidden Gem of Amherst Island, Ontario.”
She talks about Amherst’s Irish dry stone walls (the largest known concentration in Canada), museums, local stores, where to have a picnic, and generally how best to enjoy the outdoors!
Break Out the Golf Clubs at Loyalist Golf & Country Club
Located in Bath, Ontario, the Loyalist Golf & Country Club is a semi-private golf course that’s designed by well-known golf architect Ted Baker. I’ve played some of his other courses actually, but to me, Loyalist Country Club is his magnum opus.
It’s a gorgeous course by any standard. The first thing that I’ll mention is that Loyalist clearly employs the people it needs to in order to ensure that this course is in immaculate condition. The greens, the fairways, the tee block, and everything in between, were in exceptional shape. I also felt as if the course was challenging, but not in a frustrating way. It was a healthy challenge, which made the round a very pleasant experience.
For Ontario golf enthusiasts, you can note that this course is a par 72, with 5 sets of tee blocks, and yardages ranging from 5,038 to 6,625 yards. It’s neat because there’s a whole community around Loyalist. You’re regularly hitting into scenic fairways that border backyards, but just be careful of those windows!
After the round, Bri and I ate at the restaurant at Loyalist Golf & Country Club, and it was great. We ordered hulking chicken sandwiches, with a quesadilla, a salad, and onion rings to split. The best part of the meal, however, was our server Mauricio, who was so kind and generous, and with whom we shared some lovely conversations.
Go Kayaking on the Napanee River
We started our kayaking jaunt from Springside Park in Napanee. It’s a lovely spot, and I’d encourage you to take a moment to take in the sights of the Spingside Park Falls before departing.
From roughly the top of the falls, we headed to the right (very much away from the falls), and then headed down the Napanee River for about an hour. When we were tired, we simply turned around and traced our steps to where we launched.
Considering we were starting from pretty much downtown Napanee, I was astonished at how pastoral the whole kayaking ride was. There was lush greenery everywhere, and it felt like a true escape from the rush of the city, and the demands of daily life. Also, it was pretty darn romantic. You wouldn’t necessarily think of kayaking as the go-to romantic activity, but we both took a nice easy pace and enjoyed the scenery together, and you just couldn’t ask for more.
If you want to know more about where and how to paddle in Lennox & Addington, they’ve got you covered.
What Else Can You Do If You’re A Lover of the Outdoors and Visiting L&A?
In short, plenty.
From stargazing to birding, geocaching to farm visits, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to keep you (and really the whole family) engaged. When I think of unspoiled outdoor adventure, it’s easy for my mind to quickly think of Lennox & Addington, and this article, in part, is my suggestion that you should do the same.
Article originally published August 4, 2021.