An Icy Spring Hike on the Arab Lake Gorge Trail – Frontenac Provincial Park

Before you know it, winter snowfalls are disappearing with the spring melt and the Arab Lake Gorge Trail is a wonderful way to discover this season’s beauty.

About Frontenac Provincial Park

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 campsites accessible by trail or paddle-in sites only.

This Ontario Park is open year-round. During the cold months, you can cross-country ski, snowshoe, and enjoy 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 | easy
30 minutes

Starting at the Frontenac Provincial Park Office, following the trailhead brings you to a few stairs that descend to the valley’s bottom and the boardwalk. Take 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 it took just about two hours to finish the trail with all the wildlife and wild beauty around us.

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 exquisite 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 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 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!


The chipmunks were making so much noise running from their nut stashes back to their burrows, taking advantage of the warm March weather.

Although we heard many birds singing along the trail, we only spotted chickadees – they kept 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.

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 – a set of crampons would have helped make it easier to ascend the ice and mud trail. If you have any mobility concerns, I’d recommend bringing the right gear or turning back at the end of the boardwalk when trail conditions may be slippery.

? Frontenac Provincial Park, Ontario
? Traditional lands of the Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ, and, Mississauga

To satisfy your post-adventure appetite, drive 20 minutes to Sydenham and eat at
The Point Restaurant.

The Point Restaurant

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More South Eastern Ontario Adventures

Glamping in the Long Sault
Fall #inFrontenac
Spring Birdwatching
Helicopter Ice Fishing

#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!