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The Cataraqui Trail (Kingston / Westport) Part 2 of 3 – from MacGillivray Rd to Indian Lake Rd Review
Part 1 of this trail review can be found here : The Catarqui Trail from Hogan Rd to MacGillvray Rd Part 3 can be found here : The Cataraqui Trail (Kingston / Westport) Part 3 of 3 – from Indian Lake Rd to Hwy # 15 Review
Whilst driving MacGillivray Rd to the trailhead, we hit the brakes at the sight of at least 5 white tailed deer grazing right beside the road ! I quickly reached for my camera … for no apparent good reason. The one lying down on the grass didn’t even bother to get up, and the other ones just glanced at us, and went back to grazing. I snapped a few shots, and we carried on.
We’d gotten an early enough start, that the ground at the trailhead was still covered in frost. This stretch is 12 kms long without any partway accesses, and half our day would be spent travelling to and from it. So, we started at MacGillivray Rd and walked halfway to Indian Lake road and back, on the first day. Then we walked from Indian Lake road, halfway to MacGillivray road and back, the next day. Now, I’ll tell you … if you’re only going to walk one section of the Cataraqui Trail, THIS IS THE ONE YOU SHOULD CHOOSE !
From MacGillivray road (This link will open Google Maps at the location : https://goo.gl/maps/pw7Edcef3mfiMHnTA) we walked North-East between two ridges of trees with a small stream running alongside it. A sharp turn at the first of many impressive rock outcroppings to come, brought us to … Frank’s Culvert. Frank’s Culvert is a tunnel through the ridge on the North side of the trail at 1.2 kms in. I couldn’t find any absolute confirmation of whether it’s natural or not. I’ve read that it was blasted through, but I can’t figure why anyone would. Frank’s Culvert is a very unusual thing to find on any trail, and it’s well documented on many Internet sites. Being SEVERELY claustrophobic, I only had the nerve to walk in a coupla meters. So, if you wanna see more of it, there are lotsa YouTube videos you can look up. I did, and just watching someone else do it, left me squirming and hyperventilating in my easychair.
After Frank’s Culvert, the trail becomes spectacular in the water and rock faces. As we continued walking and gazing in awe of the rocks and untouched ponds, I found a tiny cave at ground level, further along the ridge (We spotted a few caves high up on the rock faces as well). As I pushed my way through some shrubbery toward it, I could hear water dripping from the roof of a cavern inside. I stuck my camera into the opening and snapped a few shots, but couldn’t get my arm far enough inside to get a picture … OK, I’ll admit it, I was afraid to stick my arm any further inside. So I didn’t get any good pictures.
After the small cave, the sound of splashing water caught my attention. There was a tiny waterfall running down the rockface beside us. Tiny it was in November, but I expect it to be quite impressive in the Spring. Moments later, the Wife blurted out “I think that’s an eagle … a bald eagle”. She was right, it was a bald eagle, and there were two of them soaring gracefully overhead.
Right about halfway to Indian Lake road, you’ll pass a curved, natural stone windbreak with a picnic table. If you didn’t notice, just before that picnic table and off to the North, the side of the trail will look an awful lot like a huge beaver dam … because it is. The water, a few feet back, on the other side of the dam is at eye level. A strange feeling, to be standing on the dry trailbed looking straight on at the surface of a huge pond, right in front of you. You can climb up the rocks just before the picnic table, (or at the other end of the dam, further back on the trail) to get a look at the beaver pond behind it.
The next day, we approached from the Indian Lake road end, and headed South-West toward the halfway point. (This link will open Google Maps at the Indian Lake Rd parking lot : https://goo.gl/maps/okmWRvTH7EBfN7R1A) The trail was much more forested from this end, but still had some gorgeous rock outcroppings alongside it.
As the canopy cleared, the wetlands and open water returned as we approached the halfway point. As if to reward us for our efforts, a pair of white tailed deer wandered onto the trail ahead of us. Just like on the roads into these trails, they didn’t seem to care about their proximity to us. Eventually, we had to get going, so we continued walking toward them until they ran down, and off the trail. They didn’t go too far off the trail though. They just stood and watched us walk by. On the subject of wildlife, I was rather surprised by the proliferation of sulphur butterflies on these trails in November.
Just past the deer, we hit the halfway point, stopped for lunch, then returned to the Indian Lake road parking lot.
The Final Take
The Cataraqui Trail has to be one of the most beautiful railtrails I have ever seen, and this stretch alone, is why. Indian Lake road has a small parking lot (about 3 cars), and MacGillivray road has some roadside parking. The trail is wide enough for two or more walking at the shoulder. It’s flat and hard surfaced, suitable for cycling. No motorized vehicles are allowed (except snowmobiles).
Stunning rock faces, untouched ponds, a waterfall, bold wildlife, an eye level pond bordering the trail, caves … and a tunnel through a solid rockface ?! Are you kidding me ?
Have a fantastic walk,