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May 2023 Ontario Trip (Part 3 of 3)


Over the years, I have made plenty of trips to Ontario, crisscrossing the southern, central and eastern parts of the province. Living in Upstate New York, it's pretty easy to visit our neighbor to the north, or is that our neighbor to the west? Ottawa is one of my favorite cities to visit anywhere in the world, plus I've discovered the charm of Kingston, the waterfalls of Hamilton (which is on the same Niagara Escarpment that brings us Niagara Falls), the sheer beauty of the Bruce Peninsula, and more. But I hadn't explored much of Cottage Country. So I decided to change that, and what better time to go than over Memorial Day weekend, when the daylight is long and I have an extra day to explore.

On the third and final day of my trip, I started in Huntsville and made my way through Muskoka District and Haliburton County, passing by many lakes along the way. I stopped in towns such as Dorset, Haliburton and Bancroft before making a beeline down to Belleville and then over the 401 to Kingston and finally to the border between the United States and Canada. Once back in New York State, I explored Jefferson, Oswego and Oneida Counties before night set in.

Leaving Huntsville on Muskoka District Road 3 heading north to Highway 60. If you take Muskoka District Road 2, you'll eventually reach Highway 11 as the road goes towards the northwest.

Hitting Highway 60 eastbound in the early morning light.

Since I took Highway 60 over to Algonquin Provincial Park and back the day before, I decided to hit a couple of local roads, starting with Muskoka District Road 23.

Muskoka District Road 23 ends at Muskoka District Road 9. This is in South Portage, where the Portage Flyer railroad once served to connect the Lake of Bays with Peninsula Lake.

Muskoka District Road 9 is a scenic backroad.

Lake of Bays.

Back to Highway 60 for a bit.

I'm making a detour of sorts by taking Highway 60 east, something I missed the day before.

Passing by Oxtongue Lake on the way.

I stopped to see Ragged Falls, considered one of the top waterfalls in Ontario and one that is seemingly untouched by hydroelectric power. It's on the site of the Oxtongue River-Ragged Falls Provincial Park and is a short walk from the parking lot.

Crossing the bridge of the Oxtongue Lake Narrows.

Welcome back to Muskoka. As I head south down Highway 35, I'll cross the border between the Muskoka District and Haliburton County several times.

Actually, here is where I turn onto Highway 35 south from Highway 60 in Dwight.

Highway 35 is a main north-south highway hitting a bunch of places in Cottage Country, including Dorset, Carnarvon, Minden and Lindsay.

Distances in kilometers to a number of those aforementioned locales.

Highway 35 at Ten Mile Bay Road. Looking at the map, it goes to some private homes along Lake of Bays, and may have been an old alignment of Highway 35, but I am not certain of the latter.

This was most of my drive going south on Highway 35. Quiet, scenic and battling the sun.

Rabbit's Bay Road goes to a boat launch for the Bay of Lakes, not to the Cadbury Bunny's not-so-secret lair.

The road to Kawagama Lake, a substantial lake to the east of Dorset.

Detouring off of Highway 35 to go to the village of Dorset. The border between Muskoka District and Haliburton County straddles through Dorset.

Currently on Haliburton County Road 39, which is part of an old alignment of Highway 35, if I recall correctly.

Approaching the Dorset Bridge, which has a unique humpback design.

The Dorset Bridge was first built in 1907 across the Dorset Narrows of the Lake of Bays. The humpback design of the truss was used to allow for the passage of boats underneath the bridge.

Today, the bridge features one lane for vehicular traffic plus a walkway for pedestrians.

The SS Bigwin, which is docked in Dorset. The steamship was originally owned by James Kuhn of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which he named Ella Mary and used as a personal watercraft to their island property on Lake Muskoka. Kuhn lost the island in 1925 and the boat was purchased by the Lake Simcoe Navigation Company for $3,500. The ship was then moved to South Portage on Lake of Bays. It was renamed Bigwin and the boat ferried tourists from Norway Point to Bigwin Inn until 1966. The Bigwin sunk in a berth after decades of decay, but a group transported the remains to a dry-dock in 1991 and restored the Bigwin to its former glory.

Historical marker honoring the First Nations peoples of the area. 

Lake of Bays looks really inviting as a summertime destination.

Muskoka District Road 117's eastern end at Highway 35 in Dorset. This was a former King's Highway as Highway 117 ran between Dorset and Bracebridge.

Back on Highway 35 southbound. The highway still straddles the line for quite a distance south of Dorset, until around when the highway reaches Kushog Lake.

But in the meanwhile, you get great views like this.

Kushog Lake to my right.

Turning down Little Hawk Lake Road - Haliburton County Road 13 - for something really different, historic and neat to see.

Going to see the Hawk Lake Log Chute, which was built in 1861 where Big Hawk Lake meets the Kennesis River in the Township of Algonquin Highlands in Haliburton County.

The Hawk Lake Log Chute is the last of its kind in Ontario, a far cry from when dozens of log chutes could be found in Haliburton County alone.

The log chute was rebuilt three times over the years, most recently in 2005.

The log chute is an easy walk from the road, I found.

The log chute appears like it goes on for a long time down the hill. In a sense, it's a highway for logs.

The log chute works its way down from a dam at Big Hawk Lake.

Big Hawk Lake

Kennesis River just south of the log chute.

Back to roads, we are roughly about halfway between Minden and Dorset as Haliburton County Road 13 ends at Highway 35.

Riding along Halls Lake.

One of many Buttermilk Falls in the world. Although this seems to be the only Buttermilk Falls that you can view from a bridge that was a former alignment of Highway 35.

The course of Buttermilk Falls seems to be steered by this concrete barrier on one side.

Boshkung Lake to our right. I feel like Cottage Country may have more lakes than Minnesota.

Entering Carnarvon.

Getting ready to turn off Highway 35 and on to Highway 118 east towards Haliburton.

But before turning east, there's a feeling I get when I look to the west and I see these signs.

Breezy Lane goes to Beech Lake.

Entering the Municipality of Dysart et al, which was incorporated in 1867 from the townships of Dysart, Dudley, Harcourt, Guilford, Harburn, Bruton, Havelock, Eyre and Clyde. It's just easier for everyone to say Dysart et al, I suppose.

Kennisis Lake Road will take you to Kennisis Lake, of course. But it will also take you to the Haliburton Forest's Wolf Centre.

Inching closer to Haliburton on Highway 118 eastbound.

I took a detour to the Haliburton Sculpture Forest. I walked around and saw Head Lake as I was galivanting around.

There are a number of sculptures to be found while walking around the woods. The sculptures were created by artists from Canada and around the world.

Ooh, the mystery shack!

Let's check out some of the sculptures, shall we?

Back on Highway 118 eastbound in downtown Haliburton. Until 2003, Highway 118 ended in Haliburton and Highway 121 followed what is now Highway 118 east of town. Highway 121 is now Haliburton County Road 21 southwest of Haliburton.
Twenty years later and there's still a "Formerly" banner up for Highway 121. That's about as long as PennDOT left up the old exit number signs after Pennsylvania converted from sequential to distance based exit numbering in 2001.

Highway 118 turns left to go away from downtown Haliburton.

Skyline Park in Haliburton, which provides a scenic place for an overlook of the town and also to have a nice lunch. I found that there are a good number of towns in this part of Ontario that have scenic lookouts.

After my detour, I found myself climbing my way up away from Haliburton.

Highway 118 passes by a number of smaller lakes east of Haliburton. Probably not as many as what I encountered on Highway 35 earlier, though. I believe this Loon Lake.

Entering the Highlands East.

I found most of the Highlands to feature some rolling hills.

And down some steep descents.

Highway 118 meets with Haliburton County Road 503 in Tory Hill. This was once Secondary Highway 503 until 1998, going west to Kirkfield.

You can take Haliburton County Road 503 to Gooderham and Hotspur. This sounds like an English Premier League team, almost...

Haliburton County Road 648 was once Secondary Highway 648 and loops back to Highway 118 to the east.

I didn't feel like making a loop, so onward on Highway 118 we go.

Here's the other end of that Loop Road, Haliburton County Road 648. Looking at a map, the Loop Road is more of a horseshoe shape as opposed to a full loop.

Some winding hills as Highway 118 encounters Cardiff, Ontario.

Paudash, nearing the eastern end of Highway 118.

Highway 118 ends at Highway 28, just west of Bancroft.

It feels like a world away from Peterborough on this part of Highway 28. Peterborough is about 90 kilometers away.

Passing through Bancroft on Highway 28. I'll be passing through this junction with Highway 62 a couple more times this day.

But first, a detour to the east of Bancroft on Highway 28.

Of course, I had to chase another waterfall. This time, it's Egan Chute at Egan Chutes Provincial Park, which is an undeveloped park reached by a nondescript road (which may have been an old highway alignment itself).

About a 10 minute walk down a hiking trail from where I parked my car brings me to Egan Chute, which is about a 4 meter drop down the York River.

Another view as the water cascades down Egan Chute. Outside of flying insects, I had Egan Chute all to myself on this day.

Near the parking area at Egan Chutes, there's some bridge abutments across the York River. This is why I am thinking the road into the park was part of Highway 28 at one time.

The old road has seen better days.

Back on modern Highway 28, heading back to Bancroft.

But heading ready to head north on Highway 62 this time around.

Downtown Bancroft on Highway 62. There was some road work going on that day.

Highway 62 hasn't went to Barry's Bay or Pembroke for quite some time, not since the highway was downloaded from the province in 1997. Highway 62 ends in Maynooth these days.

I detoured to the Eagle's Nest Lookout just north of Bancroft. I bet this looks outstanding during peak fall foliage.

Back through downtown Bancroft at the junction of Highways 28 and 62.

I realized I wanted to hit up Kawartha Dairy one last time before heading back to Upstate New York, and their Bancroft store is west of town. But that also gave me a good opportunity to snag a photo of this old Highway 28 shield.

After a tasty treat, it's back into Bancroft for a limited time only.

At this point, it's time to turn south onto Highway 62 and start my march out of Cottage Country. But I have a few things to check out on the way before leaving Ontario. 

Including passing through Madoc. I've been to Belleville before, but I more or less just bypassed it for this trip.

Much of Highway 62 between Bancroft and Madoc is like this. Wide, open road flanked by plenty of trees.

Now reaching Madoc and Highway 7. Madoc is named for Lord Madoc of Wales and gold was discovered nearby around the year 1866.

Sure, it's a long way to Perth, but that is where the last duel in Upper Canada (now Ontario) took place.

I snuck a peak at this old Highway 7 shield, which is part of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Not only do you know you're on Highway 62, you know the area fire meter system as well.

Downtown Madoc.

That's a pretty old Highway 62 shield.

Between Madoc and Belleville, Highway 62 has lot more farms.

While Belleville is centered around its southern border on the Bay of Quinte, the city's borders go quite a ways up north.

A nice standalone Highway 62 shield in Belleville.

Highway 62 southbound at the intersection of what was once Highway 14 in Belleville. Highway 14 once followed current day Highway 62 south through Belleville and onto the Prince Edward Peninsula. Later, Highway 14 ended at the upcoming intersection. Eventually, maintenance of the highway was passed from the Province of Ontario to Hastings County, who later passed on road maintenance to the local municipalities.

Arriving at Highway 401. No, I won't be going to Toronto this trip.

Highway 401 eastbound at Highway 62 in Belleville. 

Next stop: Kingston. I saved going to Ottawa and Montreal for different trips to Canada in 2023.

Highway 49 goes to the Bay of Quinte Skyway, which was under a multi-year reconstruction project in 2023.

Napanee, Ontario, hometown of singer Avril Lavigne. But they have many reasons to be greater.

I guess it's easier to put L&A above the 41 than to spell out Lennox & Addington County.

California-style exit tab at Exit 613 in Kingston. There's a similar sign in the other direction on Highway 401, so I am wondering if it is a contractor design.

Taking a detour into Kingston, since there's a few things I want to see before returning to the States.

Montreal Street will take you right into the heart of downtown Kingston.

Getting ready to cross the Waaban Crossing across the Cataraqui River, which opened to traffic in 2022.

The bridge project was originally called the Third Crossing, as it was the third bridge across the Cataraqui River and Rideau Canal in Kingston. The Waaban Crossing cost $180 million CAD to build.

The south end of Kingston Road 15 at Kingston Road 2.

A Martello tower sits at the bottom of the hill next to the harbor at Fort Henry in Kingston. I had to find out why it's called a Martello tower. Apparently, the design of the towers resembled that of a coastal defense tower at Mortella Point on the island of Corsica.

So my detour was to visit Fort Henry, a national historic site in Kingston. Originally built during the 19th century as a fortification to protect Kingston and the nearby British dockyards, the citadel and fort are now a historical and tourist attraction. I've been to Kingston a number of times before (I'll highly recommend a tour of the Kingston Penitentiary, for instance), but this was my first trip to Fort Henry.

Through this gate you'll enter the main area of Fort Henry.

I've visited a number of historical forts before, but Fort Henry is one of the best preserved.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have nothing on this cannon...

There is an upper level where you can get a nice view of the fort below. There's also stands so you can watch military reenactments at the fort.

Some well placed artillery adorns the fort. It's just for show these days.

A view of Navy Bay and Kingston from Fort Henry.

There's actually two parts to Fort Henry. The classic citadel and a section with shops and meeting space.

One last look at Fort Henry, with the artillery pointed towards Lake Ontario.

Back on Kingston Road 2 going eastbound. You can take Kingston Road 15 up to Highway 401 and continue onto Carleton Place and other places, but I'll take the scenic road and stay on the old Highway 2 for a while.

Gananoque, Brockville and Cornwall are communities along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River in Ontario. At some point, I learned that Gananoque is pronounced like "Gan-a-noc-kway".

Entering Eastview, a neighborhood on the east side of Kingston.

Perhaps I should go back to Highway 401?

Taking Kingston Road 16 going north. The road crosses Highway 401 and goes through the former township of Pittsburgh, making this one of two localities that spells Pittsburgh with an H.

Back on Highway 401 eastbound. Taking Leeds and Grenville Road 32 is the advertised way to get to downtown Gananoque. 

Decisions, decisions. I can continue on Highway 401 eastbound, or venture off onto the scenic Thousand Islands Parkway.

I chose the Thousand Islands Parkway, a scenic drive along the St. Lawrence River between Gananoque and Brockville. In Gananoque, the remaining portion of a provincially maintained Highway 2 exists.

The Thousand Islands Parkway was once signed as Highway 2S and also Highway 401 in earlier years. The parkway was once a divided highway, and remained so into the early 1970s, a few years after the modern day alignment of Highway 401 was built just to the north. There is a recreational path built in part of one of the old carriageways.

Since it's a scenic parkway, the signs are in yellow font.

Only taking the Thousand Islands Parkway to get to the bridge back to the United States this day.

The Thousand Islands Parkway offers great views of the St. Lawrence River.

Plus you can see several islands on the way, some of which can barely fit a house or two.

Hallstead's Bay marker.

Getting closer to that bridge to Hill Island, Ontario.

As you can see, one of the carriageways from when the Thousand Islands Parkway was a divided highway is now a recreational trail. This is more prevalent on the north side of the road.

Leaving the Thousand Islands Parkway to head back on Highway 137 and back to New York State.

The northern Thousand Islands Bridge span, connecting mainland Ontario with Hill Island.

Back in the United States and on I-81. This is on Wellesley Island, one of the larger islands in the Thousand Islands. One of the attractions on the island is Wellesley Island State Park, which I've been to a few times over the years and find that it's a great place to explore the Thousand Islands.

Crossing the other Thousand Islands Bridge, this time from Wellesley Island to the mainland of New York State.

Toll booth going in the opposite direction. Tolls are collected for the Thousand Bridge approaching Wellesley Island if you are traveling north and approaching Hill Island if you are traveling south.

I-81 traverses some woods, fields, farms and ponds between Alexandria Bay and Watertown.

Getting closer to Watertown. NY 342 was the old way to get to Fort Drum from I-81 before I-781 was built.

NY 3 is the main east-west route through Watertown, and the highway will eventually take you across the Adirondacks if you are traveling towards the east, or near the shores of Lake Ontario if you are heading west.

I decided to take a roundabout way through Watertown for a bit.

Eventually landing on US 11 going south from downtown Watertown.

But I decided to explore some of the county routes in Jefferson County, New York for a bit.

Plenty of old barns dotting the landscape.

Churches, too.

Jefferson County Route 72.

 Back to NY 3, but southwest of Watertown. Twenty-eight miles south is Mexico, New York, which is nicknamed the "Mother of Towns" is many civil divisions were split off from Mexico after the town was formed in 1792. Mexico is located in Oswego County, but towns to the south in present day Onondaga and Cortland Counties can trace their lineage back to Mexico.

Jefferson County Route 152 is a loop west of NY 3 in Henderson.

Which also leads me to El Dorado Coastal Preserve, a nature preserve along Lake Ontario conserved by the Nature Conservancy.

Following the trail and boardwalk brings me to the shores of Lake Ontario.

It's also a good place to go birdwatching.

El Dorado Beach is rooted in local history as well.

Back on the road, it's time to start making a beeline back home. I still have a 3-4 hour drive ahead of me and it's starting to get later in the day, despite the sun setting well after 8pm.

I took NY 178, which goes from NY 3 in Henderson to US 11 in Adams.

I've reached the Village of Adams, which was home to the Fuccillo Automotive Group of car dealerships. Many Upstate New York residents may have the catchphrase "HUGE!" perpetually stuck in their heads, since that was the saying that Billy Fuccillo would say at the end of his commercials. Billy Fuccillo passed away in 2021 and his auto dealerships have since been sold off to other companies.

I am making my way southbound on I-81. It's certainly much quieter on the road here than on I-81 in places like Virginia.

Next stop is Pulaski, with the emphasis on the I when you say the name of this Upstate New York town.

This is the exit for US 11. Just US 11.

Downtown Pulaski, New York. There is some great fishing to be found on the streams and rivers near Pulaski, along the Salmon River.

Since US 11 has some sharper turns through Pulaski, and the intersections with I-81 being on opposite sides of town depending in which direction you're traveling in, there is a truck route.

NY 13 is signed as a north-south route, when in reality it travels mostly east-west in Oswego County and out towards Camden in neighboring Oneida County. The route of the highway is closer to a backwards letter C as it makes its way south towards Cortland, Ithaca and Horseheads in the Southern Tier.

I've long found rural Oswego County to be a pleasant place to drive around. I attended college in Oswego, graduating in 2002, so when I had a few hours to take a local drive, I found myself driving all over the county. I don't get to visit often anymore, but it's still a nice place to take a drive.

The eastern end of NY 104. Following NY 104 west will take you to Oswego, Rochester and Niagara Falls. Most of NY 104, or at least all of it west of I-81, was once US 104, until it was decommissioned in 1971.

Oswego County Route 17 is one of the main north-south county routes in eastern Oswego County.

NY 13 passes through some farm country, including some old silos.

And some working barns as well.

In Camden, New York, I turned off NY 13 to go east onto NY 69. Nice.

Camden has a nice downtown core, similar to what I'd find in other Upstate New York villages of its size.

NY 69 is one of the roads to go to Rome. While the term "all roads lead to Rome" did not have Rome, New York in mind, that narrative makes sense here, since you have NY 26, NY 46, NY 49, NY 69 and NY 365 all meeting and passing through Rome. NY 825 is another state touring route in Rome, but more or less just stays within the limits of Rome itself.

NY 26 joins the party in downtown Rome.

Light is getting dimmer on NY 49 eastbound in Rome, and it's time to end the daylight portion of this trip at the exit with NY 365. In all, it was a great trip, getting to explore parts of Ontario I haven't seen and even capturing a few favorites both in Ontario and New York. As always, I'm looking forward to the next adventure.

Sources and Links:
The King's Highway - The History of Ontario's King's Highways
Gribblenation - May 2023 Ontario Trip (Part 1)
Gribblenation - May 2023 Ontario Trip (Part 2)


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