The Cataraqui Trail (Kingston / Westport) Part 1 of 3 – From Hogan Rd to MacGillivray Rd

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The Cataraqui Trail (Kingston / Westport) Part 1 of 3 – From Hogan Rd to MacGillivray Rd

Part 2 can  be found here : The Cataraqui Trail (Kingston / Westport) Part 2 of 3 – from MacGillivray Rd to Indian Lake Rd Review Part 3 can be  found here : The Cataraqui Trail (Kingston / Westport) Part 3 of 3 – from Indian Lake Rd to Hwy # 15 Review

The Cataraqui Trail has been on my list for some time now, and we finally launched our initial assault in late October, and continued into early November of ‘21. The “Cat” (an old railway berm) starts in Smith’s Falls and runs for 104 kms to Strathcona. If you’ve read any of our other reviews of long (former rail) trails, you’ll know we only walk the sections that appeal to us. We don’t walk to meet the challenge of “completing” a trail if that means we have to walk past the loading docks of retail stores, cultivated fields, private residential backyards, or within ear (or eye) shot of a highway.

However, The Cat was so beautiful, we waved the last two conditions, and covered much more of this trail than originally intended (for a total of 32.5 consecutive kms, one-way, across the three postings I’ll be issuing). We began this section on Hogan Rd just North-West of Sydenham and carried on 11.4 Kms (one way) Northward to MacGillivray Rd. Each stretch between paved roadway accesses (a total of seven) will be reviewed individually.

If I were asked to define the greatest attributes of The Cataraqui Trail, I would answer … rock and water.

Hogan Rd to McFadden Rd (2.5 kms one – way)

There are no less than two ponds, a huge wetland, and a lovely, uninhabitated lake (Hogan) on this mere 2.5 kms of trail. There are even a pair of benches over-looking Hogan Lake. The trail is mostly open to the sky, but there are a few shady treed stretches along the way. There’s sufficient, for a coupla cars, roadside parking on both roads. This link will open Google Maps at Hogan Rd :

McFadden Rd to Norway Rd (1.4 kms one – way)

This stretch is short which is just as well, as it’s not quite as impressive as the former (or the next one). We did see a snake and a deer, though both were too fast for my shutter finger. Members of the local snowmobile club were running maintainence on it, with trucks and chainsaws that day. So, that might’ve contributed to my less than stellar feelings about it as well. There’s sufficient roadside parking on both roads. This link will open Google Maps at McFadden Rd :

Norway Rd to Perth Rd (2.1 kms one – way)

OK, here you’ll be back into the big rocks and water. You’ll be walking along a huge rockface to the South-East for some of it’s the length. Heavily coated in mosses and ferns. It even has some sizeable trees growing out of it. The Wife commented on how lush the mosses were. Such that, they seemed to be flowing like a waterfall down the face of the rock wall. At about the halfway point, there’s a big, unnamed, marshy pond, and there’s more open water right at Norway Rd.

There are a few residences along the way. One at the end of Spring Mill Lane (Spring Mill Lane is their driveway, so don’t try to use it for parking access), backs right onto the trail. However, the owner was standing in his backyard chatting with another walker on the trail as we passed. He greeted us with a smile, a wave, and a “Lovely day for a walk eh ?” As for the few other residences, they were virtually invisible above the rockface or behind the trees (even in November). There’s roadside parking at Norway Rd, but Perth Rd has a dedicated parking lot for about half a dozen cars. This link will open Google Maps at Norway Rd :

Perth Rd to Opinicon Rd (2.0 kms one – way)

Crossing Perth Rd, there’s just the one massive rock outcropping, and then the trail becomes surrounded by wetlands. Some with open water, and some cattailed marsh with prolific Winterberry bushes (in November anyway). This link will open Google Maps at the Perth road parking lot :

Opinicon to Maple Leaf Rd (0.35 kms one – way)

This was a odd one as there’s a steep hill up to Opinicon Rd from the trail. It’s steeper than any train could possibly have climbed. To construct Opinicon Rd they must’ve filled in the rockcut that the railbed was on, to make the roadway level. Not a killer climb or nuthin’, it just looks funny when you know you’re on an old railbed. Though short, this stretch is a continuation of the previous stretches, as in, lotsa open water wetland, and rocks. The roadside parking is a bit stingy on Maple Leaf Rd (just a dirt road), but not bad on Opinicon (the paved, more busier one). This link will open Google Maps at Opinicon Rd :

Maple Leaf Rd to MacGillivray Rd (3.4 kms one – way)

This stretch starts with a short, tree lined stroll up to and past (you guessed it) a massive rock outcropping before opening up to another (right you are again!) huge open water wetland that the trail cuts right through the middle of. There’s a short span of wooded walking (with a few pretty ponds and rocks) before another, massive wetland with a stunning rock face backdrop on the far side. I love this part of the country (can you tell?). There are a few farm buildings on the last stretch between the last wetland and MacGillivray Rd. There’s roadside parking on both Maple Leaf, and MacGillivray. This link will open Google Maps at Maple Leaf Rd :

This link will open Google Maps at the MacGillivray roadside parking :

The Final Take

If you have the time, you could start at either Hogan Rd or MacGillivray Rd and walk the entire 22.8 km (including return) trail. Or you could access from any of the other roadside parking opportunities. Parking at the dedicated Perth Rd lot will sit you almost exactly halfway between the two ends covered in this review.

As stated earlier, I have issues with proximity to man made structures while walking trails, but I made an exception for this one. Between the sights, the scents, the sounds … I couldn’t have cared less if I saw a residence or maybe, heard an unnatural noise. The experience of this trail up-handed them all as it wends it’s way through a most beautiful and rugged part of the country.

With all the questions I’ve been receiving lately, I’ll mention that this entire section would be quite suitable for cycling. Otherwise (snowmobiles excepted) there are no motorized vehicles allowed.

Have a nice walk,


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