Frontenac Park has become our go-to for Autumn camping adventures. It’s a beautiful park, with many overlapping loops that you can take to create a new path for a each visit.
The park’s map is available online in PDF from the park’s official website: here.
Last year, we kept to the west end of the park with Little Salmon and Arkon Lake loops. We were camping in sites 6 and 7. This year the plan was to skirt around the south trails to campsite 1, then the east trails to campsite 13, and following Big Salmon Lake loop to the Corridor trail and back out. Well, that didn’t exactly happen.
We chose to park at Arab Lake, the second lot from Frontenac park office. The hike in to campsite 1 from the office wouldn’t have been too bad, but the hike out from campsite 13 would have sucked. So we divided the trip.
Off we go, on our merry way, along the south edge of Cedar Lake loop. Or the South Dedication Trail loop. Whichever you prefer.
Shortly in we are passing along Arab Lake – just a short swim back to the parking lot.
Of course, we aren’t going that way! This time. We already had to turn back about 10m in to the trail, but that’s besides the point.
I’m not sure what these challenge signs are, but one day I’m going to look them up. And add them to my list of never-ending things to do.
About 3km in, and we’re upon our first lookout over Doe Lake. Frontenac has dozens of lookout points.
This one is not one of their better ones, but it’s decent I guess. Decent enough for a selfie, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, less than an hour in to the trail.
Decent enough to try and add some artistic flair to it – what do you think?
On we go, and we meet our demise. Now, had I brought the paper map I purchased from Frontenac’s park office, I am certain I could have avoided our scenic route. However, I was using a digital map (not the one I linked here either, for whatever reason) and this crossing looked more like campsite 2 was a direct turn from here (but as you can see in the linked map, it’s a ways off down further). So instead of heading towards campsite 2, we detoured left.. and back up Cedar Lake loop.
This trail of course was no less pretty. The entire of Frontenac is just gorgeous and I highly recommend visiting, even just for a day hike!
If all the water hasn’t given it away yet, this is also a wonderful canoe park.
Onwards we head, in a northern direction, which really should have tipped me off. But we were having a great time, enjoying each others’ company and not really paying attention.
At some point I realized we should have been passing another lookout point. We passed something that came suspiciously close, but not quite close enough.
I tried to make heads of tails of our rough location on my not so great map. It seemed to me that we were now nearing the Dedication Trail that cuts the Cedar Lake Loop in half – or basically, back at where we started.
The three of us decided we’d come too far to go back, and we continued on. In hindsight, we really had only come about 2km out of our way – easily reversible. Oh well, on we trekked in this marsh/bog/really wet area.
Really wet but really pretty. I ended up a little far behind stopping to take all my pictures.
But seriously, look at this place. It’s amazing! I mean, the boardwalks kind of sag – a lot – as you cross them with a 25lb bag but whatever.
After the really wet area we were back in to the golden forests.
For a time, anyway. This is Frontenac, and you can’t go more than 100m at best without running across some body of water or other. I guessed this one to be Little Rock Lake, or one of the unnamed ones surrounding it..
At this point, 11km in to our day, we decided to make a pit stop at campsite 4. Only a short one however, as we were losing day and my friends are not adept at setting up camp in the dark. Or hiking in the dark for that matter.
We were now rounding out the northeast edge of the Slide Lake loop. We should have been skirting the south edge, but you know. Things happen.
This side of the park became very rocky, which on the one hand we were happy about – less mud. On the other hand, rocks twist ankles. And that’s exactly what happened.
The twisted ankle slowed us down considerably. Re-opening old wounds is never fun. We didn’t mind much, as it was a lovely day with beautiful surroundings. Plus, 13km with a 25lb bag sucks. I think we were all reaching our breaking point.
Little Slide Lake loop was more rock than anything else. At least on the north edge that we saw. And a lot of ups and downs. Mostly ups of course. It felt that way both ways we hiked it.
Still, we stopped to take in the sights despite the sun reaching for that horizon. This was the last lookout before, finally, the last stretch to camp.
And with perfect timing, we roll in with just enough twilight left to get our tents up and hunt for some firewood.
592m elevation gain