Hastings County is the second-largest in Ontario, reaching from Lake Ontario near Belleville to the southern boundary of Algonquin Park near Barry’s Bay. In between, you will find many lakes and hidden treasures that can make a summer day just evaporate and feel you ready for a snooze with a smile on your face from the memories.
Take the family rafting
The Madawaska Kanu Centre packs take nine people out at a time on a gentle whitewater raft route that suits riders as young as age two. Just make sure you’re dressed to get splashed!
Prices start at $49.
Address: 247 River Road, Barry’s Bay
Float away on Papineau Lake
This big, tidy, sandy beach runs along the south lake of a pristine lake near Maynooth. Even if you float out far from shore, you can still plant your feet since it is so gradual. It is a great spot to take the kids.
Address: 123 Dog Point Road, Maple Leaf
Farmtown Park is an agricultural museum showcasing the history of farming, cheese and butter making near Stirling. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. but you’ll want to get there before 3 p.m. to see it all.
Prices range from $4 for kids under 12, $8 for adults or $24 for a full family.
Address:437 West Front Street, Stirling
Splash around in Belleville
The Kinsmen Park’s outdoor pool’s lane swims start at 7:30 a.m. and final public swim for the day begins at 5:45 p.m. Pre-register (during COVID-19) to hold your spot. If you cannot get in, you can always enjoy the splash pad right next to it.
Address: 151 Dundas St E, Belleville
Outdoor Summer Theatre
Enjoy summer shows by Stirling Festival Theatre. This summer, you can enjoy Busker Festival, outdoor comedy shows, and more!
Address: Various venues
Go treasure hunting
If you love an adventure, you’ll love exploring the 50 geocaches sites around O’Hara Mill Homestead near Madoc, including five on its 85 acres. This blends the history of this heritage property with the high-tech hobby of finding treasure in nook and crannies all over the area, even Ontario’s first gold mine.
If you rather enjoy a simple hike, follow any of the seven trails around the O’Hara Mill Homestead and Conservation Area. The routes crisscross each other so you can stay out in the fresh air for as long as you want, depending on which way you go. Watch for old stone fences, majestic trees and crackling creeks. Admission is by donation.
Address: 638 Mill Road, Madoc
Play on a pirate ship
Within Riverside Park, you’ll find a large play structure in the shape of a pirate ship that can keep the kids busy for hours. The West Riverside Splash Pad and Riverside Park Trail are on either side if you want to cool off in the spray or on the shore of the Moira River.
Address: 373 Moira St E, Belleville
Visit an old homestead
The McGeachie Conservation Area takes you back in time to 150 years ago when settlers built a structure there. Once you’re done exploring the 358 acres and the walking trails around the building, you can cool off at the public beach you drove past on the way there.
Address: 363 Steenburg Lake Road North, Gilmour
Climb to the top of Eagle’s Nest
This breath-taking lookout is worth the effort to get atop the cliff across from the Tim Hortons in Bancroft. From the top, you look out over the York River Valley and the entire town then for miles beyond. Watch out for the eagles too! Plan to come back in autumn when the leaves turn golden and red.
Skate and splash in Madoc
Centre Hastings Park has a great splash pad and a dynamite skate park to blow off steam. Afterwards, goof around in the exceptional playground with long tube slides, interactive toys and structures or play on the swings.
Address: 24 Seymour St W, Madoc
Fish to your heart’s content
If you want a photo with a trophy-worthy walleye then the Bay of Quinte is the place to go. You can catch the big fish – or bass, perch and pike – almost anywhere, but you’ll have good luck in Brighton Bay, the Trent and Napanee Rivers, and the bay bordering Trenton, Belleville.
Cool off near Coe Hill
The public beach on Wollaston Lake offers a quiet reprieve with a great getaway for building sandcastles, floating in the water or fishing for bass, lake trout, and Northern Pike in pristine waters.
Address: 95 Beach Lane, Wollaston
Go deep into a cave
Admission costs $5.00 for kids, $10 for youthm $14 for adults and $12 for seniors.
Address: 2623 Harmony Road, Belleville
Hit a trail on a horse
Drawing their name from their location at the southern tip of Ontario’s most famous park, South Algonquin Trails welcomes riders from ages six and up. Their guided trail rides take beginners through veterans through fascinating landscapes. Reserve in advance. Rides cost $60 for a half hour, $80 for a full hour and more for longer explorations to Gut Rapids or High Falls Lookout.
Discover freedom at Riverside Park
Whether you find it in the Freedom Skatepark or bobbing at the beach in the York River, this gem of a park is an oasis in the middle of a quaint town. The North Hastings Heritage Museum is right next door and you can even launch your boat from here. Hit the café, visit the tourism centre and run some errands on the same trip.
Address: 26 Station Street, Bancroft
Birdwatch from the boardwalk
H. R. Frink Conservation Area and Outdoor Education Centre offer two sets of trails and the Cedar Creek lookout. You can go south to the wetland via a boardwalk and the provincially significant wetland or meander through the forests along Thrasher Road. You just need to pay $5 a day for parking or $50 for an annual pass.
Address: 381 and 384 Thrasher Road, Plainfield
Swim or splash in Frankford
Tourist Park takes up much of a small peninsula in this small town but it packs a lot into this lovely spot. The sand beach is a nice hideaway, with a playground and picnic pavilion nearby. You can even camp overnight. For fun, skip over to the splash pad at 358 Riverside Parkway.
Address: Tourist Park Road, Frankford
Saddle up near Stirling
Fina Vista Farms welcomes riders to its trails through the Oak Hills. Get out into the fresh air with an equine companion as you wind your way through rolling fields.
An hour-long ride costs $65 per person.
Address: 1008 Tuftsville Road, Stirling
Loop into this trail
The Central Hastings Heritage loop covers 156 kilometres for hikers, along a former rail line. On the way, you’ll see Madoc, Marmora (and its abandoned mine) and Stirling, while catching glimpses of waterways too. You can begin in Tweed, just south of Hwy. 7, and trek north to gem-rich Bancroft or just cover part of the route in between. Fees are $3.50 for a day pass, $15 for a week, or $35 for the year.
Catch a glorious sunset on the beach
Diamond Lake beach faces west so it gives you a great stop to watch the sky light up as the sun goes down. It’s small but has a nice sandy bottom that is soft of your toes as it welcomes you into the water.
Address: South Baptiste Lake Road, Harcourt (almost halfway between Loop and Bowen roads)
Ride in the wild
Your ride could be a horse or an ATV. Highland Wilderness Tours offers several options for its guided tours around Bancroft, Maynooth and Algonquin Park. Trail rides range from $60 to $125 per hour, depending on the package.
Address: 239 East Lake Road, Maynooth
Explore in peace
Lester B. Pearson Peace Park can easily be missed on Hwy. 7, but it’s worth a break during a road trip. Tucked in from the noise of the highway, it is a retreat with sculptures and signs that encourage you to find meaning in the natural landscape around you.
Address: 108087 Hwy 7, Tweed
Hike to the top of the ridge
Vanderwater Conservation Area offers the most amazing views from its high ridge. Several spots along the 15-kilometre trail will inspire you to stop and take jaw-dropping selfies. You can also hike on its 257 hectares on the Moira River to see the waterfalls.
Address: 512 Vanderwater Road, Thomasburg
Totter around Potters Creek
Potters Creek Conservation Area has two personalities expressed by its two trails over seven kilometres. If you go south of Old Hwy. 2, you’ll find an easy-to-follow paved path with a view of Lake Ontario. Head north instead and you meet hikers revelling in the beauty of the forest. It’s your call.
Address: 2061 and 2056 Old Highway 2, Belleville
Spot the roots of the old hotel
Massassauga Point Conservation Area once housed a hotel whose foundation can be discovered along the four-kilometre of trails on the property. However, you will likely be looking at the view of the Bay of Quinte or the limestone outcroppings on your route. You can hike on the alvar plains.
Address: 1280 Massassauga Road, Belleville
Meander on Sager Trail
For an easy outing on a warmer day, take a stroll on the half-kilometre Sager Conservation Area trail. It travels through fields where you can walk the dog, listen to the birds and admire the abundant wildflowers.
Address: 30 Golf Course Road, Quinte West