10 Spring Adventures to Have in Hastings County
Coronavirus cases are receding, pandemic mandates are lifting, and little green shoots are finally poking through the soil. It’s been a long winter — a long two years, in fact — but we seem to be emerging into a “new normal”. If you need some encouragement to get out there, keep reading. From whitewater kayaking to rocking out with Long Range Hustle, these 10 Hastings County adventures should awake you from that pandemic winter slumber.
Hit the backroads of North Hastings
Gas prices are high, but the free feeling of driving backroads with windows down may be worth it. Hastings has a bounty of off-the-beaten-track gems, but if you’re a history buff, check out the tailored road trips put together by the Hastings County Historical Society. Each trip is structured around stops at historical plaques, such as the one in Eldorado, the site of Ontario’s first gold mine. For more scenic trips, visit North Hastings’ interactive map for 14 routes with names like “Wilderness Way” and “Rapids, Rocks, and Rallies”.
Get splashed by a waterfall at The Gut Conservation Area
With spring run-off and April showers, it’s high time for waterfalls in the region. Creeks and rivers are rushing right now, and that means falls like The Gut, near Coe Hill, are at their most powerful. This one is impressive no matter the time of year, but in the spring, the Crowe River rushes so hard through the gorge here that you’ll feel it in your chest before you even see the falls themselves. When you do descend through the forest trail and finally come across the beast, just sit down and let the sound envelop you.
Have a pint on 7/62’s patio
Even a pint on a patio can feel like an adventure at this point, and Madoc’s 7/62 Craft Brewers is a good option. The outdoor area is well-spaced with picnic tables and well-covered for spring showers. The seasonal beers are always solid here, as are the core brews: Al’s Best Bitter, Madoc Dark, Hastings Canadian, Isolation IPA, and The Little Irish. 7/62’s snack game is great, too. You’ll find everything from pakoras to charcuterie, but you can’t go wrong with the Bavarian style pretzel served with warm tangy mustard dip.
Whitewater kayak down the Madawaska River
You can’t write about adventures in Hastings County without mentioning Madawaska Kanu Centre (MKC), the first whitewater paddling school in the world. The mighty Madawaska River is at its mightiest in the spring, and MKC has a few options for getting on it, including five-day courses and weekend clinics. There are also shorter rafting trips in nine- and five-person rafts, as well as specialized options for women, kids, and seniors. If the river’s raging a bit too much for you, hit the café instead and take a hike along the river.
Eat pancakes at Trillium Ridge Sugarworks
The sap is also flowing fast this time of year, and maple syrup producers like Trillium Ridge Sugarworks are busy turning it into liquid gold. The North Tyendinaga sugar shack has been making organic, wood-fired maple syrup for over 40 years. This year, they’re open 9 am to 3 pm seven days a week from March 12 to April 3 for pancakes, tours, and maple syrup pickups. Brunch is open from 9 am to 2 pm every day and includes sausage, homemade maple baked beans, and unlimited pancakes covered in fresh, hot maple syrup. Reservations are required, so call ahead to 613-396-5141.
Go horseback riding near Algonquin Park
If you’ve always wanted to try horseback riding, but haven’t because of concerns about safety or scenery, check out Highland Wilderness Tours. Located just outside the eastern gates of Algonquin Park, the outdoor tour company has been around for over 20 years. Each of their horseback trips is one to three hours long and includes a mini lesson, guides, and quiet, dependable horses. The one-hour ride is on an easy trail that passes through woods and goes over one or two hills. On a two- or three-hour ride, you’ll traverse more hills and maybe even cross water.
Hike and cottage at McGeachie Conservation Area
You may never want to go back inside after breathing the fresh forest air at McGeachie Conservation Area. This 500-acre property hugs Steenburg Lake but also has a creek, beaver ponds, wetlands, and multiple trails to explore it all. One of those trails goes to the property’s original homestead, which was built 150 years ago but is now a vacation cottage featuring four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a loft, and private access to the lake. Click here for prices and availability.
Fish for long nose gar in Stoco Lake
Need a challenge to kick off fishing season? Try nabbing the elusive long nose gar in Stoco Lake, near Tweed. These unique fish have torpedo-shaped bodies and elongated jaws that form a needle-like snout nearly three times the length of their heads. The five-kilometre-long Stoco Lake is shallow, which also makes it prime territory for walleye, black crappie, and bass. Stock up on bait and tackle at Chris’ Live Bait near Marmora or Fish & Co. in Madoc. For charters and excursions, head to Finaddicts Outdoor Adventures near Tweed.
See Long Range Hustle at Bancroft Village Playhouse
If it’s been a couple of years since you’ve seen live music or comedy, start with the Spring Concert & Comedy Series at Bancroft Village Playhouse. It features three acclaimed acts for $79: Toronto indie rockers Long Range Hustle (May 7, 8 pm), the ladies of Second City (May 14, 7 pm), and Bancroft’s fiddle and step dance ensemble The Fitzgeralds. The intimate playhouse has been a cornerstone of the arts community in the area for decades, and no doubt it will continue to be now that Tweed & Company is managing it.
Mountain bike around Marmora
The Hastings Heritage Trail is a four-season, multi-use trail that follows an old railway line for 156 kilometres. It’s a mecca for hikers, snowmobilers, and ATVers, but not every section is ideal for mountain bikers. Those near Marmora are an exception. Start off near the historic Marmora Mine, then hop on the trail south to Morrison Road. On your way back north, take a break at Callaghan’s Rapids Conservation Area, where two cascading waterfalls stretch across the entire Crowe River. Back in town, fuel up at Marmora Pizza Plus to plan your next adventure.