The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network

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Delta: Edge of the Arch (54km)

Trail information: 

The trip starts and ends in the village of Delta, home to the Delta Mill (1810) and numerous heritage homes. Alternative start/end points that also have parking, food/drinks and access to washrooms include Athens and Charleston.

From Delta, follow King St (CR#42) south out of town for a few kilometres, passing rock cuts stained red with iron content. At the junction of CR#33, turn right and follow it as it winds through forested hills on the edge of the Frontenac Axis, a branch of the Canadian Shield. Take a left turn onto Lower Oak Leaf Rd and follow it for ca. 10 km as it descends from the ridge to St. Lawrence Lowlands through beautiful mixed forest dotted with a few farms and old stone homes.

At the stop sign at the junction of CR#40, turn right and follow CR#40 (Charleston Lake Rd) just over 1 km into the village of Charleston on the shoreline of Charleston Lake. Here you’ll find ice cream, food and drinks, with access to washrooms. Leave the village by retracing your route along CR#40, continuing straight on CR#40 past Lower Oak Leaf Rd.

CR#40 will take you all the way to Athens, passing by heritage stone houses and farms on fertile soils deposited at the end of the last ice age some 10,000 years ago.

In Athens, there are many sites of cultural/historic interest as well as a bakery, restaurants, and other stores. After exploring Athens, follow CR#5 (Elgin St) north out of town.

Passing through Sheldons Corners you’ll see Mother Barnes Rd on your right. If your spine tingles or the hair on the back of your neck rises, you might be sensing “Mrs Barnes of Plum Hollow” !

As you crest the hill and descend towards Plum Hollow, you’re passing from the Gananoque Valley into the Rideau Valley watershed. You also lose many years as you leave the 2.5 billion year old Frontenac Axis granite ridges behind, and descend onto St. Lawrence Lowlands formed only 500 million years ago, and covered with rich soils at the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago. The first settlement in the township dates back to the late 1700s when pioneers from Vermont were drawn by the fertile lands.

At CR#8 turn left for a 10 km relatively flat cruise to Philipsville, passing Chantry Township Centre, the “charming and whimsical” Seaman House and Cooligan Creek, site of significant wetland and stream reclamation by the Leeds & Grenville Stewardship Council and others. At CR#42, turn left and just south of Philipsville, turn right onto the paved Harts Gravel Rd. You’ll pass the historic Cemetery and Church of the Japanese Martyrs, the scenic Corbett Creek valley and the massive Nepean Sandstone Cliffs laid down in Paleozoic times and etched by post ice age meltwater waves. At the stop sign, turn right back on CR#42 and follow it for another 5 km back into Delta.

Start Location: 

Delta, with easy access to parking, facilities, food.


Gentle rolling to relatively flat

54 km
roughly 180m
Bike Suitability: 

The entire route is paved and suitable for a road or hybrid bike.

Notes and Cautions: 

Credit:  Many thanks to Doug Bond of the Heritage Advisory Committee of Rideau Lakes for the original documentation on this route.

Caution: County Road #42 from Delta to Lower Oak Leaf Road, and from Philipsville returning to Delta, can be busy at times with seasonal/vacation traffic and has no paved shoulders.

Starting and ending in Delta, this route explores the north-eastern boundary between the St. Lawrence Lowands and the Frontenac Arch.

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