Parks, Conservation, Nature and Adventure in Prince Edward County
 
Prince Edward County is a great destination for outdoor lovers. During spring and fall migration, It is one of the finest birding areas in Canada. The region also has some very unique plants which are not found else where. For adventurers, there are a wide variety of activities to choose from. Macauley mountain has excellent biking trails, designed by mountain bikers. Cross country skiers have several excellent areas to choose from.  
Sandbanks Provincial Park
 
Sea kayakers and canoeists have over 800 km of coastline to explore. Much of it is sheltered from the larger lake (Lake Ontario). With three provincial parks and fourteen conservation areas, hikers and campers all have great opportunities in this beautiful region. All of this just a few hours drive from three of Canada's most important cities, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. Map of Prince Edward County and Surroundings

Provincial Parks

Out-There's Sandbanks

Locate between two major centers, Kingston and Toronto, Sandbanks is easily accessible. Uniquely positioned on a large peninsula along Lake Ontario's north shore, the parks prominent features are it's long sandy beaches and 30m high sand dunes. The prevailing winds along Lake Ontario are largely responsible for the dunes and endless sandy beach along the parks shores. The dunes along the west lake section are counted as the "largest fresh-water sand dune system in the world". The park certainly has eastern Ontario's best beaches. Rivaling those along Lake Huron and Southern Georgian Bay. Aside from swimming, you can choose from hiking, canoeing, sea kayaking, and camping in the park.

Note: Swimmers should be cautioned about the possibility of undertows. Talk to the park wardens to get more information.

For detailed information on the park have a look at Out-There's Sandbanks feature.

North Beach - Day Use Only

Located on the shores of Lake Ontario the park is made up of an extended sand bar which cuts across North Bay. The dunes were formed in the same fashion as those in Sandbanks, and like its southern neighbor, the park has excellent beaches. Sea kayakers can use the park as a launch point to explore the surrounding region. Quinte's Isle has a wealth of undeveloped sea kayaking opportunities. Canoeists can take advantage of the protected waters of North Bay for a leisurely paddle or head out on the unprotected side of the dunes to destinations further afield.

Head south from the 401 at Trenton along the Loyalist Parkway, #33. The park is just south of Consecon. The park is a day use area only and doesn't have camp sites.

Note: Swimmers should be cautioned about the possibility of undertows. Talk to the park wardens to get more information.

Lake on the Mountain - Day Use Only

The park is located on the high point of land that overlooks the Bay of Quinte, just outside Picton. The lake represents something of a mystery and many theories were derived to explain it's origin. The turquoise waters, excellent view and beautiful surroundings provide a perfect area for a summer stroll and a picnic.

Note: The park is a day use area and doesn't have camping or recreation trails.

From the west, take the 401 to Belleville, head south along #62 to Bloomfield, then east on the 33 past Picton to Country Road 7.

From the east, take the 401 to the Deseronto exit, #566 then head south along #49 into Picton then head east along the 33 to Country Road 7 or you can reach the park on the Glenora Ferry from Highway 33.

Provincial Parks Nearby

 
 
World famous Algonquin Provincial Park is only a few hours drive north of Prince Edward County.
 
Nature Observation and Birding

Quinte's Isle juts out into Lake Ontario significantly reducing the distance to the southern shore of the lake. Migrating birds take advantage of this fact to reduce their time over open water. The fall and spring sees tens of thousands of migrants, in the woods, fields and everywhere along the shores of the isle. There are dozens of excellent observation points on the peninsula, so dust off your binoculars and dig out your siting scope. Map

 
Prince Edward Point
 
Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area
While there are dozens of places practice your birding, Prince Edward Point is the first place you should head to during the migration. Hundreds of species have been observed here and there is a bird banding station on the point to take advantage of this . From Picton follow Country Road 8 to the cut off for the 17. Follow the 17 to the T intersection and take a right (east) on the 16 until you intersect with the 13 where you turn right (south). Follow the 13 to Babylon Road where you turn right (east) and keep going along Long Point Road to the Wildlife Area at the tip of the point.
Out-There's Spring Bird Banding at Prince Edward Point

Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area
A very good area for birding during migration which is often overlooked due to the proximity
of the Prince Edward Point. This is the place to be during fall migration if your looking to
observe raptors. From Picton follow country road 10 south to the 24 which will take you to the point.

Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area
Macaulay Mountain has a range of habitat that attracts a variety of different species. Watch for Oven Birds, grosbeaks and wood thrushes. From Picton follow Country Road 8 and watch for the conservation area on your right.

 
Beaver Meadows
  Beaver Meadow Wildlife Management Area
This is a 89 hectare wetland conservation area not far from Sandbanks Provincial Park. The area is know for its songbirds. You might also catch sight of osprey, herons and wood ducks which are often seen in the area. From Picton follow highway 10 to the southwest then take the 11 which will bring you to the area.
 
 
Presqu'ile Provincial Park
Just to the east of the area you'll also find Presqu'ile Provincial Park which is very well known for it's birding. The peninsula is of major importance for birds during the spring and fall migration, countless species can be observed during these periods.
 

Links of Interest

Note: This list is by no means exhaustive but it should get you well started.

Hiking & Backpacking

Map of Prince Edward County and Surroundings

Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area - There are over 20km of shared use trails in the conservation area. In the winter the trails are used for cross country skiing and in the summer mountain biking and hiking. The escarpment is forested and you'll find hickory, ash, oak and maple. This is a great birding area frequented by ovenbirds, grosbeaks, wood thrushes and many, many more. So don't forget your binoculars. Some of the trails are extremely steep rising over 40 metres, good footwear is required. From Picton the Conservation Area is a short distance along route #8.

Massassauga Point Conservation Area - There are several hiking trails which take you into the Bur Oak Grove and the old Quarry through red cedar forests. You'll also find a cobblestone beach. Watch for raptors, including the ever present red tailed hawk. From Picton take the 4 to the 62, then take the 28 south just before the bridge. From the 28 take Marsh Road a short ways to Davidson, then follow Tops Line and Sunrise. Watch for the sign.

Beaver Meadow Wildlife Conservation Area - The conservation area has hiking trails which will take you through swamp, meadows and forested areas. From Picton take the 10 to the 11, the Conservation Area is on your left a short distance from where you pick up the 11.

Little Bluff Conservation Area - a natural area along the shore, with cliffs that fall off into the bay providing a nice overlook. There are hiking trails or you can just walk the rocky beach. The area is frequented by birders. Take country road 8 from Picton to the where it branches onto the 17, follow the 17 to the "T" intersection and turn right (east) along the 16. Follow it for a short distance to the next "T", where you take the 13 to the right (south). Follow the 13 a short distance passed the intersection with the 10 and you'll find the Conservation Area on your left.

Harry Smith Conservation
Area
Hiking
2 km

Demorestville Conservation
Area
Hiking/Biking
2 km

Backpackers won't find any long distance trails on the peninsula but there are a lot of opportunities within a few hours drive of the area. The 200km (250km when completed) Oak Ridges Moraine Trail runs from the Niagara Escarpment in the west to the Trent River. The Cataraqui Trail is a 104km mult-use trail stretching from Strathcona to Smiths Falls. The Rideau Trail winds from Kingston in the south, to Ottawa in the north, a distance of 300km in total. The relatively new multi-use Central Ontario Loop Trail (COLT Trail) loops 450km from the Brighton/Trenton area, through Lindsey, then up towards Minden, over to Haliburton, before swings back south and passed Bancroft, following along north of Belleville before heading back to Brighton/Trenton. For something really different there is the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail, which passes just above the peninsula and travels through a number of Provincial Parks and Conservation Areas. Many of the parks and conservation areas have camping. Check before heading out and make reservations in high season to avoid spoiling your trip.

You'll also find backpacking trails in nearby Provincial Parks including:

  • Algonquin - Uplands & Highlands Trails
  • Bon Echo - Abes & Essen Trail
  • Charleston Lake - Short backpacking trails into back country campsites
  • Frontenac - Extensive trail system with dozens of possible routes in to campsites.

Scuba

Prince Edward County is developing a solid reputation for its diving. There are a number of shipwrecks in the area, and some may yet lay undiscovered. There is a local charter available.

There are two areas off Sandbanks Provincial Park in Wellington Bay (outside of the West Lake dunes). The best area in Quinte Isle is probably Main Duck Island about 17km off the tip of Prince Edward Point. Closer to shore check out Pleasant Point, Point Petre and Soup Harbour (just south of Sandbanks), along with Beachcroft Point off Wellers Harbour. Some of the wrecks in the area include:

The Annie Falconer
The Olive Branch
The John Randell
The Fabiola

For more information and transportation to the dive sites contact:

Ducks Dive Charters
Point Traverse
RR#3 Picton Ontario
Canada K0K 2T0
613 476 3764

Mountain Biking and Cycling

Mountain Biking

Sandbanks - 5km, Easy. Cycle the Woodland Trail from Outlet Beach to Dunes Beach. There are a number of quiet roadways throughout the park as well.

Macauley Mountain Conservation Area - Intermediate to Expert. The conservation area offers excellent mountain biking, mostly single track, right in the heart of Quinte Isle on the escarpment. While there are some easy sections but the majority of the area is intermediate and expert. The trails are maintained by a local club and you can tell by some of the layout they like challenges. Over all a great area to ride, perhaps its only failing is there isn't more of it. The entrance to the conservation area has a large sign with a map of the trials and indications of there difficulty. You can get your own copy of the map, for a fee from the area office.

Mountain Biking Macaulay Mountain - Map

Rentals - Bloomfield Bicycle Company - Bloomfield (No racks)

Cycling

Belleville Bayshore Trail - 4.2 km, The Riverfront Trail is a short, paved path, that follows the shoreline of the Bay of Quinte, along the waterfront in Belleville. Open to cyclists and hikers the trail will soon be linked to the Waterfront and Trans Canada Trails.

There are six separate road cycling routes on Quinte's Isle which have been mapped out with descriptions. The pamphlets are available from the Prince Edward County Chamber of Tourism and Commerce.

Route #1 - 46.3km
The route loops from Picton down to Waupoos along Prince Edward Bay, then back by way of Hwy 7 along the Adolphus Reach.

Route #2 - 56.5km
The route loops from Picton down to Milford, then east to Cherry Valley and East Lake at Sandbanks, before heading up to Bloomfield and back to Picton.

Route #3 - 36.1km
The route starts just outside Bloomfield, travels east then south into Wellington, where it starts the loop back to Bloomfield.

Route #4 - 35.8km
From Ameliasburg head west to the Loyalist Parkway, #33, then head north to the intersection of Country Road 3, where you will follow along side the Bay of Quinte until you take Country Road 23 where you head south to complete the loop.

Route #5 - 51.7km
From Picton access Hwy 49 and head north east until you reach Cty Rd 35, along the Hayward Reach. Then connect to the 15 which will eventually follow Telegraph Narrows west, passed Northport back to the 5 to loop back to Picton.

Route #6 - 40km
From Consecon follow the Loyalist Parkway south, passed North Beach Provincial Park to Wellington. From Wellington head north on Cty Rd 2, to Cty Rd 1, which you can follow back to Consecon.

Nearby you'll find several rail trails or multi-use trails where you can ride (hybrids or mountain bikes are the best bet, unless the trail is paved). The Cataraqui Trail is a 104km multi-use trail stretching from Strathcona to Smiths Falls. The relatively new multi-use Central Ontario Loop Trail (COLT Trail) loops 450km from the Brighton/Trenton area, through Lindsey, then up towards Minden, over to Haliburton, before swings back south and passed Bancroft, following along north of Belleville before heading back to Brighton/Trenton. For something really different there is the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail, which passes just above the peninsula and travels through a number of Provincial Parks and Conservation Areas. Many of the parks and conservation areas have camping, check before heading out and make reservations in high season to avoid spoiling your trip.

Bike Rentals - Bloomfield Bicycle Company - Bloomfield (No racks)

Sea Kayaking & Canoeing

The dunes area in Sandbanks makes for some interesting paddling and exploration. North Beach is another area with a similar appeal, large stretches of sand dunes protected on one side and open to the lake on the other. Only attempt the exposed west side, which is exposed to Lake Ontario if you're an expert, if the wind is up this can be extremely challenging. Wellers Bay above North Beach has a large dune system which offers protection while you do some exploration. The whole peninsula provides lots of possibilities, which have for the most part gone undeveloped but are recently being explored and documented. There are a multitude of protected routes in the reaches, and for the real experts, the islands along Lake Ontario's shores, could be of particular interest. Lazy paddles are available within the East Lake, West Lake and the short but beautiful Outlet River of Sandbanks.

Prince Edward Region Conservation Authority has programs for discovering the area by canoe and kayak, contact them for more information.

Map of Prince Edward County and Surroundings

Sandbanks Provincial Park provides canoe and sit-on-top kayak rentals. Contact the park for details.

Note: Lake Ontario is essentially an inland sea and is easily capable of sinking large freighters when things get rough. The exposed areas are better left to the experts to explore.

 

Cross Country Skiing

There are 11km of trails in Sandbanks Provincial Park which will appeal to novice and intermediate skiers. There is a warming hut on route provided by the Friends of Sandbanks (a donation is a great way to give back). Try skiing the beaches on a windless day. There are also opportunities for snow shoeing and winter camping in the park, check with the park staff for details.More advanced skiers can take advantage of the challenging cross country trail system at McCauley Mountain Conservation Area.

 
Backcountry skiers won't find trails within the peninsula but can practice their passion at Algonquin Provincial Park a few hours north of Prince Edward County. Sandbanks does allow for winter camping, check with the park for details.

National Parks

There are no national parks in the region but St. Lawrence Islands National Park is just to the east of Kingston.

 

Dog Friendly Parks

Most Ontario Provincial Parks allow you to bring your four legged friend along but they must be on a short leash and they must be cleaned up after.

 
Macaulay Mountain
  Conservation Areas

The Conservation Authorities are responsible for much of the green space you find outside of the Provincial Parks in Ontario. Their original mandate to protect the watersheds has become a huge boon in preventing urban sprawl from eating up all of the natural areas in southern Ontario. There are 16 conservation areas alone in Prince Edward County.

 
Prince Edward Region
  • Prince Edward Region Conservation Authority
  •  
  • H J McFarland Conservation Area
  • Little Bluff Conservation Area
  • Whattam's Memorial Walkway
  • Beaver Meadow Wildlife Management Area
  • Consecon Mill Dam Conservation Area
  • Macauley Mountain Conservation Area
  • Rutherford-Stevens Lookout
  • Whitney Memorial Dam
  • Harry Smith Conservation Area
  • Massassauga Point Conservation Area
  • Allisonville Conservation Area
  • Bloomfield Mill Pond Conservation Area
  • Demorestville Dam Conservation Area
  • Milford Mill Pond Conservation Area
  • Sunset Lookout
  • Birdhouse City Conservation Area

Conservation Authorities Near Prince Edward County

 
Huts, Yurts and Cabins - Nearby - within a 4 hours drive of PEC
  • Algonquin - 8 yurts, Cabins, Huntsville, Algonquin Region, Ontario
  • Bon Echo - Cabins, Cloyne, Eastern Ontario, Ontario
  • Silent Lake - 3 yurts, Bancroft, Eastern Ontario, Ontario
 
Nearby Presqu'ile Provincial Park
  Camping

When campers think of Quinte, they think of Sandbanks. The park has five separate campgrounds with 500 sites available. Just on the edge of the peninsula you'll also find excellent camping in Presqu'ile Provincial Park with 8 campgrounds and almost 400 sites available. Both parks have sites on the edge of the beaches.

 
Back Country Camping

Front Country Camping - Parks in Prince Edward County

  • Sandbanks - The park has over 500 front country campsites in in three separate areas

Front Country Camping - Parks Nearby Prince Edward County

An almost endless front country and back country camp sites are available at world famous Algonquin Provincial Park which is only a few hours drive north of Prince Edward County.

Group Camping

Private Campgrounds & RV Parks - See Accommodations

Retail & Rental

Retail & Rental - Nearby

  • Highlands Outfitters - (613) 962-0399, Belleville
  • Canyon Mountain Company - (613) 546-2276, Kingston
  • Doug's Bicycle Sales & Service - (613) 966-9161, Belleville
  • J & J Cycle - (613) 389-6777, Kingston

You can rent canoes and play kayaks at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

Snow Boarding & Skiing

There are no ski hills in Prince Edward County but Batawa is just to the north of the 401 (above Trenton) a few minutes from exit 525. There are a number of hills and resorts north of Toronto just a few hours drive from Quinte.

Guides & Tours

Clubs and Associations

Clubs and Associations - Nearby

Snow Shoeing

You can break out the beaver tails in Sandbanks, North Beach and Lake on the Mountain Provincial Parks. You can also take a winter hike with your snowhoes at many of the conservation areas within the peninsula. Always remember to stay off the ski trails.

Dog Sledding

Dogsledding rides and tours are available in Algonquin Provincial Park only a few hours drive north of Prince Edward County.

Rafting

There are excellent rafting companies and resorts about 4 hours drive, on the Ottawa River outside Beachburg. Another excellent area is the Rouge on the Quebec/Ontario border. Have a look at our White Water Rafting section for details.

White Water Paddling

There are excellent white water opportunities on the Ottawa River about 4 hours drive from PEC. Other areas include Minden, the Credit River, the Gull, the Petawawa, and the Rouge on the Quebec/Ontario border. Have a look at our White Water Paddling section for details.

Climbing

There are no developed climbing areas in Prince Edward County but Bon Echo Provincial Park north of the isle has a significant rock face, a section of which can be climbed. Contact the park for details. If you want to spend a couple of hours on an indoor wall head to the Boiler Room in Kingston.

 

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