Kayaking at Gould Lake – A Mom & Me Adventure

My mom, Sharon Csernak, is an artist and loves exploring the wilderness like me. She enjoys hikes in the summer and cross-country skiing during the cold months.

She seeks out nature all year round to feed her adventurous soul. This is how I knew my mom would love a day trip out to the beautiful Gould Lake Conservation Area

When I proposed a mother/daughter day trip, her smile was radiant.

Leaf silhouettes against the blue sky
Sunlight through the leaves

She was excited to try kayaking for the first time and bond over the shared experience.

I couldn't wait for us to go, but heavy winds and thunderstorms kept getting in the way. It was important to me that my mom had smooth paddling conditions for her first kayak.

A week later our luck changed and the weather turned in our favour. A series of (mostly) sunny day with low winds were in the forecast.

On the morning of our trip, the clouds were fluffy and a light breeze was in the air. We couldn’t wait so we left early for the beautiful drive to South Frontenac, from our home in Kingston.

The dirt road was winding - and steep! - after the Gould Lake Conservation Area sign. We proceeded cautiously around turns - and there was wildlife to watch out for!

We saw a coyote cross the road ahead. I slowed the car and as we passed, our eyes met through the roadside foliage and then it was gone.

Foliage at the side of the road
Swimming at Gould Lake

A short ride later, we arrived at the gate to pick up our day pass then headed to the parking lot. The gear we needed for the trip was already packed. We grabbed the dry bag, towels, and the camera. Now, all we needed were some kayaks.

As we headed to the rental hut, we could see that everyone seemed to be out. It was perfect August weather and we couldn't wait to have our own summer fun.

Paddling with ease within a few minutes.

Waiver signed, I left our keys and a deposit for two watercraft. We walked down to the beach and got a helping hand into the kayaks.

It was a smooth launch into the water and at first, my mom was a little unbalanced. It didn’t seem as steady as promised so I wobbled heavily to and fro. My antics showed her just how much stability the wider recreational kayaks really have!

Smooth water on the lake

Confidence boosted, Mom practiced paddling as we made our way to the east side of the small bay before beginning our big tour.

It didn't take long for her to get a handle on the basics, as she had plenty of prior paddling experience from canoeing trips.

With a firmer grasp on the technique, we were ready to start exploring Gould Lake!

The bay was calm as we followed the lakeside. With just a few dips of the paddle we were cruising easily, what a feeling! From our vantage point, the changes in the shoreline were quite apparent.

The trees along the water’s edge melted into marshy inlets, bays and little sandy beaches.

The rocky shores became large outcroppings and the shadows of cliffs in the distance were getting closer.

Mom and I grinned at each other in anticipation, wondering what we'd see next.

A Wonderful View from Water Level

As made our way along the water’s edge, we encountered our second wildlife spotting of the day.

A majestic Great Blue Heron was hunting at the water's edge. The large yet graceful bird took off as we were drifting by and flew in a large circle around us flying away with the quiet beating of its wings.

The beautiful Canadian Shield

As we continued, the landscape made its most dramatic change yet!

The shadows of the Canadian Shield were no longer in the distance but towering right above us. With the clarity of the water that day, we could imagine just how deep the rock face went into the depths.

Island Hopping Across the Lake

Midway through our day trip, we approached a series of islands dotting the widest part of the lake that would help to make the crossing easier. As we drew near, we could see the osprey nest located at the top of the tall pine was empty.

The fledglings were now old enough to hunt - we'd seen them circling in the sky. Vultures spun lazily high in the breeze, seagulls were perched on the rocks waiting for dinner to swim by.

In the distance, we could hear loons calling. 

For my mom and I, it immediately transported us to another lifetime.

We closed our eyes. Memories of (my) childhood summers resurfaced as we listened to the eerie sounds of the birds' hoots and wails carrying across the water.

We let the moment of peace wash over us, then turned our kayaks to the next destination - the west shore.

We paddled from island to island, avoiding the waves that even the lightest wind would kick up across the large body of water.

Islands at the midway point

We were looking forward to reaching the far side. 

Our plan was to find a quiet spot to make landfall, where we’d enjoy a snack before taking a swim in the oh-so-warm lake!

This Crown Land is the Queen of Nature

We spotted a smooth rocky incline at the end of a peninsula, flanked on both sides with quiet bays that we'd explore later.

With a view of the islands, it seemed like a lovely stop to for a rest.

We'd been paddling for two hours, so at this point, and stretching our legs sounded pretty good.

A rock ramp on the peninsula

Frogs and minnows splashed out of my way as pulled up. Having made landfall, I step without looking right into the water and soaked the outside of my shoes!

With squishy footsteps, I moved my kayak farther onshore to make room for my mom to paddle up and help her out onto dry land.

Before relaxing, we made a large commotion. We talked loudly, clapped our hands for a few minutes to let the animals know we were there.

Gould Lake Conservation Area is 589 hectares of wilderness in the Canadian Shield. This is wildlife country and we're just visitors to their land. It always best to play it safe when in their territory.

After a quick reconnaissance, we spotted (old) evidence of black bears, but who knows when they were last there.

Having verified we were alone, we settled down by the water. From our private place, we just basked in the natural beauty while my sneakers dried in the sunshine.

The Beautiful Bays and Inlets

After our snack and swim, we set off to explore the bays along the west shore of Gould Lake.

The surface was like glass, mirroring the greenery and blue skies around us. The reflection was only broken by thousands of the seeds floating on the water.

Every once in a while, we’d catch a glimpse of sunfish swimming below us and other aquatics splashing in the shallow bay.

As we glided across the surface, water bugs began scattering at our approach.

We slowed as we reached the lily pads, and let ourselves drift.

With all the flowers, we felt like we were floating along in a real-life Claude Monet masterpiece. I made sure to take a few photos for Mom to use for inspiration with future paintings.

We could have spent the rest of the day exploring Gould Lake, as our kayaks spun lazily in the gentle summer breeze. 

It felt like escaping to a different world entirely. All thoughts of the hustle and bustle of daily life had completely faded away.

As we sat in silence, the songbirds began to sing, occasionally punctuated by the buzzing of cicadas, and the hum of dragonflies darting about.

Wrapping a Great Day on the Water

Surprisingly, we only saw one pair of turtles throughout the day.

We were keeping our distance and still roughly a hundred feet away when they went underwater. Obviously, we had not seen any hard shells because they did not want to see us.

This type of encounter speaks to how wild these animals really are. They may see humans on a fairly regular basis, but they are not accustomed to our presence and keep their distance.

Turtles sunning on a log

With the wind at our backs, we drifted back to the Gould Lake beach.

We felt refreshed, relaxed and recharged after spending the day appreciating nature.

Making Memories to Last a Lifetime

I had the best day with my mom.

Knowing I'd go on many more adventures at the Cataraqui Region Conservation Area’s various locations we decided to purchase an annual pass on our way into Gould Lake.

I’m looking forward to exploring their trails through the wilderness - but that's another story!

I can tell you that the memories I've made while kayaking are incredible. I'm hooked on this mode of exploration.

It ties with hiking, at the top of my list of favourite outdoor adventures. Now, every time I plan our travels, I look for kayak rentals nearby so I can experience peace and serenity on the water.

Thank you for reading!

If you’re interested in learning more about kayaking and canoeing in Ontario - check out this the Paddle Rental Adventures page with custom Google Map we’ve created to help you plan your next adventure!

Find even more travel ideas for Ontario, plus plans in Nova Scotia inspired by our own trips.


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