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Gananoque: St. Lawrence Rec Trail

photo: cyclists on St. Lawrence Recreational Trail at Ivy Lea lookout.
Trail information: 

Both east and west ends of the Parkway corridor and SLRT have ample parking. Orientation maps are provided on natural and cultural features. The usual direction for traveling the Ontario Waterfront Trail is west to east, only because you're more likely to catch the prevailing SW winds.

Starting at the Gananoque end, Gray's Beach is a nice place for a swim before starting the day on a bicycle. If you keep going, just before the bridge there is a super lookout of Halstead's Bay.  It's another great spot for a picnic or a swim off the rocks.  There are excellent walking traisl across the road at Landon Bay Centre.

Landon Bay has been recognized by the provincial government as an area of significant wetland habitat. From Landon Bay Bridge, there’s a great view south to the St. Lawrence River with Horseblock Point on the left and north to Fitzsimmons Mountain. Fisherman enjoy this area and are often seen on the bridge.

Just before Ivy Lea, the bike path swings away from the river and passes by a few marinas where a cool drink may be purchased. Much of the undeveloped land along the Parkway is provincially owned by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission.

Continuing east, you will reach the hamlet of Ivy Lea. A short trip into the village on the river will give you a chance to view some fine examples of the late Victorian cottage architecture that has made the 1000 Islands famous.

Coming up next is Rockport. Before the village, watch for lookouts along the way where you can catch a glimpse of the Thousand Islands International Bridge. You must leave the bike path at the bridge interchange to cross the highway.  Please use caution if crossing the Parkway.  

Soon, the gates for Rockport will appear nestled off the parkway on the right. This quaint village was established as a port in Loyalist times and once was a bustling community with a cheese factory, two general stores (one of which is now the Boathouse Restaurant), two inns, the Islandview and Hickory Lodge and Andress Boatworks. You can catch boat cruises/tours of the Thousand Islands here, including cruises to Singer Island. You can enter Rockport via the western gateway, bike through the village and return to the bike path via the eastern gateway. After this be prepared for a long stretch of biking.

Continuing east, you will begin to see summer homes which have withstood the test of time. Built at the turn of the century, these mansions and cottages have contributed to making this area of the 1000 Islands a long-standing summer haven. Residents opened their houses to guests and adopted names like The Willow Beach Resort and Poole’s Resort. There is a lookout at Poole’s Resort where you can view Poole’s Island and its large summer home built in the 1890s. Grenadier Island is visible in the distance to the south.

The islands provide a feast for the eyes again, as geology comes alive in this stretch of the bike path. View the “potholes” during a short stop. These potholes are located on the north side of the bike path across from Poole’s Island, just west of the Poole’s Resort lookout. Boulders ground holes metres deep into the granite rock as they were swept down great waterfalls during the last ice age.

Coming up on Mallorytown Landing, you come across La Rue Mills Road, but you will have to trek up a small hill to the community of La Rue Mills. Nestled by the creek is a Loyalist farm house built by Billa La Rue, a millwright who provided flour to the British during the War of 1812. La Rue and his family are buried in the cemetery plot just west of the house. Weathering has effaced names on the tombstones, but area residents have erected a plaque listing the family.

Once a steamboat landing, Mallorytown Landing is today the land base of St. Lawrence Islands National Park. Facilities include washrooms, a picnic area, displays and exhibits of natural and cultural interest. Vehicle parking fees may apply. The Visitor Centre is open daily throughout the summer months. There is a pay phone at the Landing. If you turn north on the road to Mallorytown and hang a right again on Old River Road, you’ll parallel the bikeway on a dirt road that takes you through a beautiful forested area, eventually bringing you back to the parkway just before Brown’s Bay. If it’s windy, this may be a more pleasant option than continuing on the bike path.

Further east on your right (south) day-use facilities at Brown’s Bay Provincial Park provide a break for a snack and a swim at the beach. You'll climb the toughest grade of the entire bike path after leaving Brown's Bay and heading east.

After another flat stretch you'll pass under an interesting structure. It’s a horse bridge which was constructed by the province in the 1930s to allow safe access to properties adjoining the parkway.

After descending a nice hill, you'll come to the bridge across Jones Creek. This is a popular fishing spot and each spring the night air is filled with the glow of lanterns as fishers drop their lines from the old bridge in hopes of a bullhead catch.

Continuing on from Jones Creek you'll climb the 2nd longest hill on the bike path and then a flat stretch before coming to the eastern terminus of the path at Brockmere Cliff Road near Butternut Bay.

If you were to turn right onto Brockmere Cliff Rd and follow it to Cty Rd 2, then east on Cty Rd 2, it's about 10 km to Brockville.

Start Location: 

Starting locations with facilities include (from west to east): Gananoque, Landon Bay Centre, Ivy Lea, Ivy Lea Campground, Rockport, Mallorytown Landing and Brown's Bay Provincial Park.

Terrain: 

Predominantly flat with a few gentle hills.

Distance: 
37km. Many shorter segments from various starting points are possible. The end-to-end distance from Gananoque to Brockville is 50km.
Climbing: 
Negligible
Bike Suitability: 

Any

Notes and Cautions: 

Cautions:

The SLRT has some segments that are in poor shape, with cracked and broken pavement. Ride carefully.

Exercise caution whenever crossing the 1000 Islands Parkway from the SLRT to attractions on the other side of the Parkway, and back. 

This is a multi-use, shared trail used by walkers (often with dogs), in-line skaters and cyclists.  There are often leisurely family groups with young children. Please keep cycling speed below 20 km/h, slow down near pedestrians, and signal passing by bell or voice (e.g. "Behind you ... passing on left side.")

Faster, more experienced/confident cyclists will use the 1000 Islands Parkway rather than risk the surface conditions and goal conflicts with other trail users.  There is no shoulder along the Parkway.  Some motorists on the 1000 Islands Parkway do not understand that cyclists are entitled to share the road and will let their beliefs be known by harrassing cyclists.  Motorists are also sometimes distracted by the scenery.  In peak summer season, there are boat trailers, RVs and tour buses on the Parkway as well.  Be alert and exercise caution! Riding on the Parkway is not recommended on summer weekends after 9 a.m.

Notes:

Further information may be found at:

Gananoque 1000 Islands Visitors Services

Gananoque Boat Line

1000 Islands Kayaking

Landon Bay Centre

St. Lawrence Parks

Thousand Islands National Park

Rockport Cruises

Rockport Tourism

Brown's Bay Provincial Park (day use area)

Brockville Tourism

 

The St. Lawrence Recreational Trail (SLRT) runs 37km along the 1000 Islands Parkway corridor, concurrent with the Waterfront Trail, from Gananoque to Butternut Bay near the Parkway & Hwy 401 interchange.  From Butternut Bay, Brockmere Cliff Rd and Cty Rd 2 continue the Waterfront Trail route to Brockville.

The SLRT provides an off-road path for a scenic family-friendly ride along the entire length, or in shorter segments from any one of several starting points.  Points of interest include St. Lawrence Islands National Park, Ivy Lea Campground, Landon Bay Centre, several scenic lookouts, and the towns of Ivy Lea and Rockport.

The information posted here was compiled by the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce and photo credits go to George Fische and Rosanne Van Vierze.  

There is also more information available on the Waterfront Trail website, complete with profiles of each section and detailed maps in pdf form for downloading/printing.

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