***Please click on this link Map Locations of ALL Trails on this Site to view a map with the location of every trail “2oldguyswalking” has written a review on.***
Foley Mountain Conservation Area (Westport) Trails Review
On Cty Rd 10 heading North out of Westport, about 900 meters from the bridge over Westport Pond, you’ll see the well signed entrance to Foley Mountain CA. It’s on the right just at the crest of the hill.
This CA has seven trails plus the Rideau Trail passes through it. The trails range from 100 meters to 3.2 kms. totaling 9.6 kms. They vary widely in ecosystems and trail base as well. A paved road runs about 3/4 the length of the CA (2.2 kms) allowing access to the Blue, Beaver, and Orange Maple trails from many locations.
The Blue Loop (3.2 kms)
This is the only singular, closed loop trail here, marked with blue bubble arrows. The others all use parts of other trails to complete their loops. The Southern stretch of this one is the most popular due to the spectacular lookout over the Upper Rideau Lake, and the village of Westport, two hundred feet below. You might notice the electrical outlets at the lookout ramp. That’s to power the Christmas lights the people of Westport enjoy looking up at in the season.
If you walk it in the Spring, you’ll wander along the ridge on a carpet of wildflowers. Then it turns North, away from the ridge and into mixed forest. The Red loop runs along with it until they both junction with the Green trail. After the trail crosses the road, it continues through mixed forest in silence, until you pass the Beaver Pond. Traffic noise from both Grady and Perth rds. becomes audible at this point. The Beaver Trail is accessible from the Blue where you see them come close together on the map. The Blue Trail is wide enough for two to walk side by side, and has a mixed compacted soil/rock base.
The Beaver Trail (1.2 kms)
This trail is rather self explanatory by its name. It has a most unexpected view of the beaver pond from a rocky height, and from water level. The markers are purple bubble arrows. It is wide enough for two to walk side by as well. When we first walked this trail a few years ago, we watched a number of water snakes swimming about in this pond.
The Red Oak Trail (1.3 kms)
As you head East on the trails in this CA, the trailbeds become more rocky. This trail displays some major granite outcroppings and even uses some bare bedrock as it’s base. It’s marked with red oak leaves, which we found amusing. We walked this one in October, and so, saw bright red oak leaves everywhere on this trail. Not to worry though. All the trails in this CA are visible on the ground and the trees are well marked.
The White Pine Trail (1.2 kms)
Marked with either dark green pine tree silhouettes or green rectangles with white pine tree silhouettes, or dark green triangles, or dark green triangles with white triangles nailed over them …. dark green … not the best color to mark a wooded trail with. This is where the trailbed starts to become rocky. As is so often the case, the trail becomes a little tougher as the rewards become a little better. The rock outcroppings on this trail are lovely. Mind you, there are a number of stretches where the rocky footing becomes difficult. On the Southern section of this trail between where the Red and Orange Maple trails meet it, I’ll warn you of a very steep and long uphill climb from East to West.
The Orange Maple Trail (2.3 kms)
Weird name for a trail eh ? This one is the furthest East of them all and, as mentioned above, the further East, the rockier the trailbed. This one can be accessed from the Interpretive Center parking lot. We had some difficulty finding the start, but if you follow the “Natural Swimming Area” sign, you’ll be on it. On the way you’ll pass a Jack Herbert Mobility Trail. Continue going down the swimming area trail to a small beach. It’s now very important to follow orange maple leaf markers. Ignore the orange triangles. They mark the Rideau main trail which just passes through this CA on its way to somewhere distant.
This trail is quite lovely, but it’s also a serious ankle-buster. Watch your footing here. Pretty much the entire trail is littered with uneven rocks, and some sections are literally over piles of nothing but rocks. However, if you liked the granite outcroppings on the White Pine trail, you’re gonna love these ones. There are numerous tall ridges of granite rising to the North. Just be sure to get your footing firmed up before you whip out your camera.
The Mobility Trail (on the trail map, but The Jack Hebert Mobility Trail on the trail sign – 0.3 kms)
This is called the Mobility trail on the map. It’s a trail with a bed suitable for infirm walkers and even wheelchairs. It meanders through a mixed forest with some pleasing views of the lake.
The Meditation Trail (0.1 kms)
A picnic area near the Interpretive Center with a view of the lake.
The Final Take
This CA has just about everything a walker could ask for. Spectacular vistas, active beaver ponds, mixed ecosystems, beautiful granite ridges, wildflowers, and wildlife. The trails are very easy to follow, well marked, and most trail junctions or crossings have complete trail maps with “you are here” on them. Since they’re so well marked, there’s no reason for you to guess at where you are. Just remember to ignore the orange triangles for the Rideau Trail. We made the mistake of figuring “orange is orange” and wasted precious time walking from the Orange Maple trail, almost to the Blue trail parking lot before we figured it out. Other than a small stretch of the Blue trail near Perth road, these trails are wonderfully silent.
Overall, we’d call these trails hilly, but nothing drastic. The trailbeds become rockier, the further East you go. I’m in my 60’s, and though I walked the Orange Maple in runners, I’d rather have had proper ankle protective hiking boots. Not essential, but would have been nice. Trail widths vary from single file to as many as four to walk at the shoulder. Though only the Blue trail is a closed loop, between intersecting other trails, &/or the road, there are all descriptions of loops to be made on these trails.
Facilities ? You bet ! Washrooms, picnic tables, ample parking on a road that traverses ¾ of the CA, and plenty of rest benches along the trails. This CA is very well laid out, making virtually all parts easily accessible to the general public. We encountered many walkers, picnickers, and campers on a lovely Saturday afternoon in October, yet the trails and parking lots were incredibly clean. Not a trace of trash anywhere. The $6.00/car a day access fee is a joke considering what you get for your money. Cash or charge card, either way works fine.
Foley Mountain CA is a bit remote at 60 road kms North of Kingston, and 115 road kms Southwest of Ottawa. Though it’s over 200 kms from our home, we felt it was well worth the trip.
Have a nice walk,