The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network

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Delta: Edge of the Arch (54km)

Trail information: 

This route skirts the northeast edge of the Frontenac Arch, where the sandstone bedrock is buckled and bent into rolling hills from millennia of uplift of the Arch’s ancient granite being pressured by drifting of continental plates. This is a countryside ramble with great historic overtones.

The trip starts and ends in the village of Delta, home to the Old Stone Mill National Historic Site (1810) and numerous heritage homes be sure to spend some time either at the beginning or end of your ride to take it all in. Park on the side street near the mill that leads into Lower Beverly Lake Park.

From Delta, follow King St./Cty. Rd. 42 south out of town for about 2 KM, passing rock cuts stained red with iron content, to turn right on Hicock Rd. At its junction with Cty. Rd. 33, turn right and follow it as it winds through forested hills on the edge of the Frontenac Arch. Take a left turn onto Lower Oak Leaf Rd and follow it for about 10 KM as it rises and falls and twists through beautiful mixed forest dotted with a few farms and old stone homes.

At the stop sign at the junction of Cty. Rd. 40, turn right and follow Cty. Rd. 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 – and a fine view down part of the lake. Leave the village and retrace your route north, continuing on Cty. Rd. 40 past Lower Oak Leaf Rd. and all the way to Athens. The road passes by the shallow, marshy Wiltse Lake, 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, fading wall murals as well as a bakery, restaurants, and other stores. After exploring Athens, follow Cty. Rd. 5/Elgin St. north out of town. Almost 2 KM along, at a curve, turn right then north on Lake Eloida Rd. and in 3 KM bear left onto Deir Rd. On your right where Deir Rd. intersects Mother Barnes Rd. is the locally historic site that is the legend of the Mother Barnes, the “witch” of Plum Hollow. After the hair on the back of your neck settles, go west (left from Deir Rd.) until Mother Barnes Rd. ends back at Cty. Rd. 5 at Sheldons Corners. Turn right.

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 1.5 billion year old Frontenac Arch granite ridges behind, and descend onto St. Lawrence Lowlands sandstones formed only 500 million years ago. The first settlements date back to the late 1700s when Loyalist pioneers from Vermont were drawn by the fertile lands.

At Cty. Rd. 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 Cty. Rd. 42 and Phillipsville, turn left. 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 Cty. Rd. 42 and follow it for 5 KM back into Delta.

Start Location: 

Delta, near the Old Stone Mill National Historic Site

Terrain: 

Gentle rolling to relatively flat

Distance: 
54 km
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 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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