Right to Ramble
path northward to Stage Coach Road after it leaves the fields behind.
It's beautiful here, with a clear trail and a young hardwood forest.
The K&P Trail
A quick history lesson:
on the Kingston and Pembroke Railway began in 1872. Businessmen
behind the project wanted to get access to mining and logging
operations to the north. By 1876, the line stretched from Kingston to
Sharbot Lake. With the opening of other lines, the pressure was off as
far as getting to Pembroke was concerned. Still, work on the line
continued and in 1884, it stretched to Calaboogie and shortly
afterwards to Renfrew, which is as close as it actually got to
Pembroke. Total track stretched about 103 miles. Work was also done to
extend the line south through Kingston to the shores of Lake Ontario.
In 1912, Canadian Pacific took undertook a 999-year lease on
line. However, over the latter part of the 20th century, sections of
the line fell into disuse. The last section, between Kingston and
Tichborne, closed in 1986. (For more details see the K&P
Group's history page.) Bell
Canada purchased the right of way
on the line in the same year.
1986 and 2002 negotiations continued as groups sought to retain the
line for recreational use. At one point the local conservation
authority was suggested as an owner, but it turned down the request for
lack of funds and personnel to maintain the trail. The City of Kingston
bought the rail bed and on December 6, 2007 the first section of the
trail opened. See my
rails to trail page for more information.
There were plans afoot to open sections both to the north of the present section, which officially ended at Orser Road north of
Kingston, and to the south, deeper into Kingston itself. However, some involved groups (such as the Eastern Ontario
Trails Alliance) are chiefly interested in ATV and snowmobile trails,
so the northern extension may not be as walker-friendly as the southern
Finding information on the trail's development on the net is frustratingly hard. However, Here's an overvview of progress up to 2012. Frontenac County (north of Kingston) had a Trails Master Plan made up in 2009 and in 2011 struck a committe to develop the K&P trail.
It seems that many online sources are outdated in still ending the
K&P trail at Orser Road and that it now extends to the Cataraqui
Trail near Harrowsmith. I have not explored that section.
A September 6, 2012 article describes the northern extension of the trail best.
The acquisition of the trail, as with other
trails, has not always been easy. Some landowners were leery
the old rail line to the public, particularly for ATVs and to a lesser
extent snowmobiles. Happily, the trail promoters so far have
kept ATVs and snowmobiles off the trail.
the motorized "sporting" (what a
misnomer!) commmunity are also the folks with the deepest pockets, at
least as a cohesive group. Walkers are often pathetic group lobbyists.
In some cases (for example the Cataraqui Trail), snowmobilers have been
instrumental in saving a rail trail from being swallowed up by
landowners. It's a cruel world indeed, full of contradiction.
Here's an Eastern Ontario AgriNews article
from 2000 outlining some of the woes of creating a trail. Back
then, some said it would take "a miracle" to create the the
K&P Trail. Well, the miracle happened.
The rail bed is an easy walking surface made up
of fine gravel solidly
laid out. It would make a good biking
surface as well.
I'll chronicle the K&P to Orser Road, although it is not all part
of the Rideau Trail system.
K&P Trail: South starting point
Trail total 1.2 km
K&P trail is advertised as being 15 kilometres long. I'll
note where the Rideau hooks in and out of
starts 1.2 kilometres east of Sydenham Road. The road closest to the
start is Brass Road, which can be got to by heading east on Arnold
Street, which runs off Sydenham about 700 kilometres south of Highway
#401, then heading north on Brass. However, a better place to start is
Sydenham Road. Then you can continue on east of Sydenham to get a
decent walk in.
This little section begins just south of Highway
#401 at Little Cataraqui Creek. There's a chain link fence here and the
abutments to a bridge — but no bridge. The trail starts
unceremoniously. You can see the rail bed running eastward on
side of the creek. Hopefully there are plans to put a bridge in
eventually. Meanwhile, to get to the start, you must trek in and then
retrace your tracks.
Little Cataraqui Creek spreads out quite a
bit here, but the trail rides high off it. There are lots of signs of
beavers, conveniently trimming trees along the trail and building
little dams at the bottom of the trail banks. As you close in to
Sydenham Street, back yards and junk appear. Cross Brass Street and a
few minutes later you'll reach Sydenham Street.
2) K&P Trail: Sydenham Road to
3) Rideau Trail:
Sydenham Road to Bur Brook Road
Trail total: 3.8 kilometres
total: 5 kilometres
Rideau Trail total: 3.8 kilometres
Running total: 11.8 kilometres
Rideau Trail hitches a ride on the the K&P for roughly 4.5
kilometres, starting at Sydenham Road and cutting right about 600
to the north of Bur Creek Road.
Anyone (like me) with an old
Rideau Trail Guidebook take note: the Rideau used to take another route
at the south end of this section, largely along roads. The K&P
Highway #401 affect most of the southern part of the K&P. It's
constant, even beyond Bur Brook Road.
trail passes marshland on the left with Highway #401 on the right. The
trail curves through some cedars and heads northward under the
highway about 2 kilometres from Sydenham Road, then runs through
scrubby cedar before reaching McIvor Road.
North of McIvor, there's
more to see. A transport truck junkyard appears on the left,
followed by a little lake. It was fairly populated with Canada Geese
and ducks on the afternoon and evening I passed by. This is part of
Collins Creek, which is the wetland surrounding you and which
stretches up to Collins Lake to the east. As the marshland gives way,
there are fields and buildings on the left and rough fields on the
right. Watch out for the bashed-out Volkswagen van on the right, just
past a funky old bridge. Land along this section is burdened by copious
roughly-made "no trespassing" signs.
As Bur Creek Road
approaches, a little creek with well-built banks tumbles northward
under the trail and through a culvert. The trail comes out at Jackson
Mills Road. head north down the hill and past a few houses to
cross Bur Brook Road hook up with the trail
to McIvor. After McIvor:
April 13, 2009
K&P Trail: Bur Brook and Jackson Mills roads to Unity Road
One) Rideau Trail: Bur Brook Road to Cut-off
Trail total: 4.5 kilometres
total: 9.5 kilometres
Rideau Trail total:
3.5 kilometres (Parts 1 and 2 to Unity and Cordukes roads)
Running total: 15.3 kilometres
no official parking at Jackson Mills and Bur Brook roads, so it's not
the best of starting points. If
you're choosing between the Rideau cut-off and the main K&P
note that the latter is 1.5 kilometre longer, but the Rideau cut-off
section is considerably more rigorous.
to your left there's some kind of farming/trucking operation going on,
and the trail rides high here. Note what seems like a wrecking yard
for houses to your left.
My map shows an abandoned rail line running parallel for some time to
the right of the trail; perhaps that's the farm track running through
before the 600-metre point, there's a little stream with a
mini-waterfall pouring off the rocks. (This may not run later in the
season.) Note that the rocks are changing already here, particularly a
big outcrop in the middle of the field to your left. We're already
getting hints of the Canadian Shield.
the 600-metre point, immediately after you cross a little bridge that
leads to the aforementioned waterfall, the Rideau trail turns to go up
the ridge to the right. It's well marked, but still — keep an eye out.
The Rideau description continues below, but we continue with the
The K&P now curves left and gently ascends the
side of the ridge. There are some nice man-made rock-cuts here and some
little creeks (in the spring anyway) crossing the trail. You can see
the valley below spreading out through the trees as you arc away from
Bur Brook Road (also called Bur Creek Road on some maps), then cut back into it
to meet it again where it
intersects with Cordukes Road (about 2
kilometres from the first
crossing of Bur Brook Road).
trail crosses Cordukes and runs along the little parking lot parallel
Bur Brook Road and along westward, curving up shortly to head north.
The curve is a fine one, cut into the rock. Enjoy it; it's pretty
straight hereon in.
From here to Unity Road, you have some 2
kilometres of straight road. It's mostly farmland on either side, with
patches of woods. Very roughly one kilometre from the curve, there is a
patch of woods on the left. There are several little trails hidden in
here. They provide a bit of relief from the straight trail. I'll let
you discover them if you need a break. You can easily get back to the
track when the woods peter out.
There is a good parking lot at Unity that gets your car well off the
April 13, 2009
K&P Trail: Unity Road to Orser Road
Running total: 15 kilometres
From Unity Road, the trail continues, gently rising, but still very
half a kilometre north, an old collapsed house and outbuildings can be
seen on the left. There are four or five wrecked cars lying about, as
well as some interesting old machinery. In the house is an old bath. A
second foundation looks as though someone attempted to make a home here
within the last 40 years.
By the way, I recommend staying on the
trail for more than just the need to protect farmers' fences and other
property. At one point, sitting quite close to the trail (on the other
side of the fence) was a huge bull, with his harem clustered around him
— not something you want to encounter without a fence to keep the
Fields line the trail on both sides at the start of
this section. Then, just before a welcome curve, some hardwood
gives cover. As the trail curves to the left within this wood,
Rideau Trail cuts off to the right. We'll take a break to follow the
Trail here, but will continue from this point on the
K&P in the red box below...
Walked: May 21, 2009
Back to the top of this page
Two) Rideau Trail cut-off from K&P north of
Bur Brook Road to Unity and Cordukes roads
2009 update: ...
The landowner has posted a "No trespassing" sign since I walked this
section. According to the trail association, this is just to dissuade
bikers and non-Rideau Trail hikers. The landowner still allows bona
fide Rideau hikers. (I haven't seen the sign, but pulled this from the
trail association's "changes"
on their website.)
From the cutoff to the right of the K&P Trail, the Rideau heads
steeply upwards. It winds about and near the top roughly follows an old
cedar fence line through scrubby cedar mixed with scotch and spruce and
other mostly softwood trees.
is a fine section of the trail. A sign indicates it is private
land and I stayed dutifully on the trail. It was very slightly wet when
I travelled it, but I ran into no serious snags. At just over a
kilometre, the trail opens into a field with hydro lines running
east-west and some kind of industrial operation to the north. The trail
follows the hydro lines, staying slightly to the south before cutting
across them and heading for Unity Road, where a style gets you over the
fence and onto the road.
The Unity Road section, just under a kilometre, is boring and straight.
(from K&P cut-off): Moderate. Unity Road:
April 13, 2009
5) Unity and Cordukes roads to Orser Road
Total: 7.1 kilometres
Running total: 22.4
trail now turns north from Unity Road. The track is indistinct through
the first field; it seems that walkers have chosen one of several
possible trails and none have become worn. However, after the first
style is crossed, things become clearer and the farmer's track, after
passing through an open gate becomes very clear. Just before a pond,
there is another gate that is unlocked, but which walkers need to close
Just before the open gate, the grassy road joins a
gravel road. This continues past the aforementioned pond on the right
in a straight but not unpleasant fashion through scrubby half-fields
until a road comes in from the right and the trail returns to a dirt
and grass farmer's track. Near the entrance to the wood, a cabin with a
well-stocked pile of firewood appears on the left. At several spots
along the trail, there are other stacks of firewood.
hardwood forest is beautiful in May. When I did this walk, the
Trilliums were not as brilliant as they have been earlier, but still
putting on a pretty good show. Blue and red flowers carpeted the forest
floor. Truly a magical place. (Okay, I admit, I danced a little jig and
sang a little tune, in homage to the beauty of the place.)
long after the camp, the trail turns left and follows a cedar trail
fence. Beyond the fence, you can see a marsh. As the fence peters out,
the trail veers slightly south and away from the marsh. There are
several trails here, but the red Rideau Trail markers will keep you on
track until you come to a style. Once over the style, take care. There
is no apparent marker. If you walk to the far end of the clearing on
the other side of the style, you'll find plenty of trails and a picnic
table hiding behind some trees; it's a good place to take a breather.
My 2001 Rideau Trail guidebook lists this as a camping spot for through
hikers. There's no water (except the marsh), but would make a decent
spot if your water supply is adequate. However, don't follow the trails
here; go back to the style and veer to
the right, where you'll see a path leading down the hill.
very carefully along this next section. Markers are not all that clear.
I found it useful to look behind me constantly to see the return
markers. Basically, you're heading for the edge of the marsh. Once you
reach it, stick with it. At one point the trail curves away and up to a
field. Keep a close look at the angle of the markers and stick to the
marsh until you get close to the trail. The K& P Trail is
whenever you get a good look over the marsh. You can see the trees
lining the trail as it cuts across the marsh in a straight line.
the K&P Trail, you can follow the markers very briefly
they send you to the right and up the trail, or just hike directly up
to the trail and head north. The K& P trail is 3.3 kilometres
from Unity Road.
We now hitch a ride on the K&P Trail, described in the red box
K& P Trail (continued)
Rideau Trail (continued)
the Rideau trail joins the K&P, the trail continues its curve
eventually straightens out. When it does we lose the tree cover and
only get it back for a brief stretch once more before Unity Road. Marsh
and fields dominate.
There is one section in which a little
stream flows under the trail. On the left (west) side, there are a few
young trees and the farmer's field is in the background. As the
straightness of the trail can get monotonous, it would be a fine thing
if the municipalities or trail keepers could purchase a few
here and make a mini-park that could serve as a picnic spot. But — it's
easy to dream and much more difficult to negotiate such things.
Unity Road, there's a gate, but not a lot of parking space. The
has done a great job of providing parking space at strategic places in
Overall, the K&P trail is a fine trail, with lots
of variety. Like any rail-to-trail, it suffers from unduly straight
sections, but the K&P folks have laid down a great fine-gravel
that works for walkers and bikers.
Orser Road was the official
end of the K&P Trail. it's now been extended to
Harrowsmith and hopes are that it will eventually stretch to Sharbot Lake at some point.
Rideau Trail continues below.
Walked: May 21, 2009
5) Rideau Trail (continued)
the K&P trail, the Rideau turns eastward down Orser
a little cluster of houses for less than 300 metres before turning
northward once more.
aware that some changes have been made in routes since the early 2000s.
Only a few years ago, the Rideau began its piggyback on the upper part
K&P; before that it headed north farther east, and not long
that, it had yet another route farther west. It might be interesting to
try to pick the old ones out and compare and contrast. At any rate,
take older guide books with a grain of salt in this section.
(Excluding last road bit which is ordinary.)
May 21, 2009
Road to Rutledge Road (County Road #5)
Total: 7.4 kilometres
Running total: 30
This section offers a wide variety of walking conditions: marsh, road,
forest and field.
Orser Road north the trail is straight. When I walked this section in
May, it was fairly wet, but there were no impossible points. (I also
walked it after a heavy rain.) The path is not well trodden, so the
long grass soon had my inadequate clothing soaked. After the hydro
lines, a double track lane improved walking.
and Murvale Roads walk north a short distance until you see the red
triangle pointing you into the field to
Follow the map closely here, because there are neither signs nor clear
tracks to help you.
Follow the road north (inside the hedgerow) through a couple of fields,
until signs point you toward a falling-apart barn.
falling-apart barn is a good marker to help you orient yourself in this
(There's a sheep hiding under the watermark in the right-hand corner.)
over the driveway (with the house to your right) past the barn and into
the scrub woods. The signs are good here and the path is clear enough
but again not well trodden.
large patches of poison ivy. They are impossible to walk around if you
stick to the trail and avoiding them involves a bit of bushwhacking.
you return to the field, the trail heads toward the road, follows it
briefly, then angles east again. At the east-west hedgerow between
fields, turn right (east) and follow the hedgerow as it curves around
northward, avoiding a house to the right just before Railton Road.
Poison ivy alert! These bright
green leaves are nice and wet and just waiting
to catch you unawares.
Railton Road and follow the signs into the field, again following the
hedgerow eastward, then north. Shortly after turning north, it gets a
bit marshy here. The grasss was long in May with an indistinct path, so
you need to watch closely for signs.
Stay close to the edge of
the field until the trail enters the brush woods. The signs are not
clear here, but don't be tempted to strike north across the open field.
The trail winds through scrubby forest with the field on your left
until it breaks briefly into the field again, where you will turn
right. You will only briefly be in the field before it turns (very
slightly) south to get you into the scrub woods again and moving
eastward. The trees are more mature here and this is a nice winding
walk. Signs are clear. After climbing over one trademark Rideau Trail
style the trail leaves the fields behind. You will briefly meet some
double tracks here, but leave them to continue eastward. Basically, you
are walking east just south of the top end of the big field you entered
at Railton Road, which has a little dog-leg in its north-east
As the big field ends, the trail winds north between
the big field's eastern edge and another big field farther to the east.
This section, almost to Stage Coach (or Stagecoach, both spellings are
used on different maps) was the highlight of this walk for me. The
single path is clear, the trail markers are clear, and the young
hardwood forest, with some interesting older trees is fantastic.
passing between the fields, the trail heads east on the northern side
of the field until it hits a rutted track and heads north.
There are signs of horse riders here.
The trail (clearly
marked) then stays right of the larger path/road past a
house, then follows along the right side of a cedar-rail
Eventually you will reach a little stream and a marshy area. The trail
comes out into a field briefly, following it very briefly southeast.
Watch very closely here and don't misss the sign pointing back into the
shrub wood. If you miss the signs, you will simply follow the edge of
the field where you'll eventually meet the road. However, the slightly
marshy scrubwood is more interesting and once out of the field the
signs are good.
The wood narrows as you near the road. You'll
see a shack to your right at the edge of the field before
connecting briefly with a little double track that meets Stage Coach
Road at the Lambert Road intersection.
A rather mundane
one-and-a half kilometres straight north on Stage Coach Road gets you
to the intersection of Rutledge Road (County Road #5). The local high
school is across the road off to your right and an Anglican church is
straight ahead on the right.
(Reduce rating for some field bits and more for all road bits.)
How to get there:
The K& P Trail connection starts just south of Highway #401 at
Sydenham Road cutoff. there is a parking lot on the west side of the
road. The trail can be accessed through a number of roads between here
and Sydenham. The K&P trail has very good parking lots. McIvor
is good. Bur Brook Road is not a good spot to park. The
intersection of Cordukes and Bur Brook roads has a good parking spot,
as does Unity Road. Van Orser Road has a tiny spot you can
For the Rideau, there are wide shoulders on Unity
Rd, where you can park, but no official spot. Same for Van Orser, which
is a smaller road, but there's plenty of shoulder as long as there are
only a few cars. Same goes for Stage Coach Road at Lambert Road.
that, it's Sydenham, with plenty of parking. If you drive north on
Sydenham Road at Kingston and Highway #401 (at the K&P Trail
connection), it's roughly 18.5 kilometres to Sydenham. Sydenham Road
ends in a "T" intersection at Rutledge; turn left (west) for just short
of two kilometres, where you'll meet the Rutledge Road intersection and
Mills Road which will take you north into town.
Click here or on any photo for more photos
On to the next
section: Sydenham to Frontenac Park
Back to the previous
section: Kingston and the start of the trail
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Updated: September 21, 2013