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Frontenac Provincial Park Spring Melt PHOTOBLOG

Photography Journal by Heidi Csernak

Frontenac Provincial Park's 5355 hectares are located on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield. There's a network of over 100 km of hiking and backpacking in interconnected loops, plus canoe routes through 22 lakes through the wilderness. Explorers can spend the day following the trails, fishing, wildlife, and birdwatching, plus there are backcountry camp sites accessible by trail or paddle in sites only.

This Ontario Park is open year-round, during the cold months you can also cross-country ski, snowshoe, and winter camping. If you're looking to build your wilderness skills, there are training programs offered by the Friends of Frontenac.

Arab Lake Gorge Trail

1.5 km loop, easy, 30 minutes

Starting at the Frontenac Provincial Park Office, following the trailhead brings you to a few sets of stairs that descend to the valley bottom and the boardwalk.

I always take more than a few moments to enjoy the view of South Otter Lake before continuing on the boardwalk.

Ontario Parks suggest it will take 30 minutes to complete the circuit, but with all the wildlife and wild beauty around us, it took just about two hours to finish the trail.

Spring Melt in the Gorge

Spring's arrival at the park is unmistakable by the sound of rushing water, the sights of thinning ice, and the snowmelt dripping down the rock faces that line the gorge. The bright blue sky reflected in the open water was a beautiful and colourful contrast with the stark white snow.

The spring melt is a stunning sight along this trail, and nature lovers will love this route through the Arab Lake Gorge.

The high waters of winter are revealed as the ice-shelf marks the levels that flowed through the gorge. The constant melting and freezing of these ice sheets have created some absolutely beautiful textures and patterns.

This Boardwalk Rocks!

As you venture further along the Arab Gorge Trail into the valley, the rocky formations of the Canadian Shield rise up on either side of the boardwalk. Lichen and moss cling to the rocky surfaces, waiting for spring, and there are bright green splashes of fern fronds under the melting snow.

Although the boardwalk extends the entire length of the trail through the valley, some sections do not have railings, and can narrow to a little over 3 feet wide. Snow on the boardwalk could be hiding ice patches, so be careful!


Although we heard many birds calling to each other along the trail, we only spotted chickadees which were keeping a fair distance from us. Although they were quite used to human presence, it was refreshing to see that the birds were not following us, searching for seeds.

Chipmunks could be seen - and heard - running from their nut stashes back to their burrows, taking advantage of the warm March weather. Red squirrels chittered from the tree branches whenever we came too close, which seemed like most of our return hike through the forest along the gorge's crest.

Climbing the Gorge

Once you reach the end of the boardwalk and begin the ascent to the top of the gorge for the return leg, things get a little slippery during the spring melt. The snow and muddy trails make this section of trail moderate in difficulty, despite the easy rating.

My cane with ice grip attachment was barely sufficient for stability, and a sad substitute for hiking poles - I'm not even sure if a set of crampons would have it any easier to ascend the ice and mud trail. If you have any mobility concerns, I'd recommend turning back at the end of the boardwalk when trail conditions may be slippery.

You'll build up an appetite after exploring Frontenac Provincial Park, so I'd suggest enjoying the 20-minute drive to Sydenham, and eating at The Point Restaurant.

#notsponsored - In 2018, Mike and I travelled for South Eastern Ontario Regional Tourism and created the "Searching for Sign of Spring #inFrontenac County" experience blog. I just took so many photos at Frontenac Provincial Park and wanted to share them with you, as I do after every trip!

There are so many cold-weather adventures waiting for you! Read more of our winter exploration blogs and get inspired!

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