North Frontenac Bikepacking Loop (94km)
Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Location: Frontenac and Renfrew Counties, Ontario
Distance: 93.6km (58.3 miles)
Suggested Tire Width: 45mm or wider
Amenities: Unless riders start from the village of Calabogie, which has access to a convenience store, several restaurants and a brewery, there are no amenities on route.
Estimated gravel time: 90%
Parking: There are several parking options available. Starting from the north, there is a large parking area just west of the K&P Trail at the end of Tatty Hill Rd (Barrett Chute Dam). In addition, the southern end of the route has two parking areas available, including the K&P Trailhead in Lavant Station and the boat launch just inside the Palmerston Conservation Area
This 94km loop explores the abundant single-lane gravel and forest access roads that lie to the south of the village of Calabogie. While a strong rider could conceivably finish this route over the course of a single long day, this gravel bike-friendly loop is designed to be savoured over the course of two days, and includes access to a variety of pretty Crown Land campsites. In addition, as the route includes a significant amount of climbing, minimum gear ratio of 1:1 is recommended (with lower gearing HIGHLY encouraged if loaded down with gear).
Riders choosing to complete this route over the course of a single long day are encouraged to bring a means to treat water, as there are zero amenities on route. Finally, as most of the route is shared with ATVs and dirt bikes, be sure to keep your ears open and move to the side to let any approaching vehicles pass by safely.
Beginning from the boat launch at the Palmerston Conservation Area, head north via Arcol Rd., past a public beach, before transitioning to gravel and eventually an extended stretch of unmaintained forest access road, which continues all the way to Govan Lake. It should also be noted that this section of the route between Redhorse Lake and Govan Lake provides access to several reservable Crown Land campsites maintained by the North Frontenac Parklands, the only exceptions being a poorly maintained site on the southern end of Otter Lake, as well as a small site on the shores of Mair Lake next to Arcol Rd.
Just before reaching Govan Lake, riders are required to navigate a kilometre-long stretch rough doubletrack in order to link up with the Barry Lake Trail. Barry Lake Trail is a 17km stretch of forest access road and includes a significant amount of climbing before riders are rewarded with an epic descent all the way to the K&P trailhead. As the route approaches the rail trail, riders will be spoiled for choice in terms of available Crown Land campsites, including Belanger Lake, Battery Lake and Blithfield Long Lake. These sites are available at any time, no reservations required.
Upon reaching the rail trail, the route heads right, following a rough section of the K&P and eventually passing a small campsite on the shores of Clyde Lake (caution ought to be exercised if camping here, as the site is clearly visible from the rail trail). After approximately 11km, riders enter the small hamlet of Flower Station (no amenities), where the route makes a right, doubling back via Flower Station Rd., before eventually making a left onto Stoney Lonesome Rd., a section of rough doubletrack.
Eventually, after approximately 3km, the loop leaves the doubletrack behind in favour of some scenic (and hilly!) single-lane forest access roads. This section of the route also provides access to at least two pretty campsites. The first, on the northern shores of Dobbie Lake, can be reached via a poorly maintained ATV track (and could use a fire ring). The second site on the southern shores of Lavant Long Lake is located on a small peninsula, taking full advantage of the breeze coming off the lake to keep the insects at bay.
Continuing south on the sandy forest access roads, riders will eventually pass a small three-sided shelter, before reaching a second section of rough (and at times wet) doubletrack and following it for over 3 kilometres back to the K&P. Upon reaching the rail trail, turn right and continue south for approximately 4.5km, before making a right and exiting the trail via Folger Rd., which transitions from unmaintained to pavement upon reaching Canonto Rd. This quiet stretch of asphalt continues south-west for approximately 6km, before making a right onto Arcol Rd. and entering the Palmerston Conservation Area and the end of the loop.