DESTINATION: Northumberland County, Ontario
Published: Monday, January 7, 2019
With Northumberland County surrounded by the Ganaraska River to the west, Rice Lake to the north, the Trent-Severn Waterway to the east, and Lake Ontario to the south, boating just couldn’t be any more fun. And, being just east of Toronto makes it an easy two-hour journey to the area.
Upon arrival at Port Hope, boaters can dock and pay at the core wall, hop out, and saunter into town two blocks north. You’re right at the sandy beach for a swim and then a dine in or take out at Crawford’s Lakeside Café. Their accessible and covered porch has a clear view of the Lake.
If you happen to have bicycles on board, Port Hope is part of the Waterfront Trail, and there is also a more advanced 30km (18.6mi) “Glorious Ganaraska” looped route that can be found at www.northumberlandtourism.com/cyclingroutes.
Considering hiking? The southern terminus of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail is across from the town hall. You’ll head north alongside the Ganaraska River and past the fish ladder (see fish jumping in the spring and fall), along quiet back roads. Then, at 4th Line, there’s a deep-woods experience as you walk part of the abandoned rail line that ran from Port Hope to Midland. The entire trail stretches 500km (310mi) to the Bruce Trail in Collingwood.
A lovely side arm of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is just east (Caldwell St) of where you’ve moored. Eastbound is an easy walk with grand views of the lake, wetlands, and a chance to picnic at a gazebo.
Port Hope’s garden tours, artisan and craft shows, and Canada Day celebrations are not-to-be-missed events.
East of Port Hope lies the Town of Cobourg where, in the early 1800s, the Ontario Car Ferry brought hundreds of passengers from Rochester to Cobourg and was the only car ferry line on the Great Lakes to have a regular boat-to-train connection.
In this town of 18,000, you can stroll into town – or even pick up a loaner bike at the marina – to indulge in needs or wants: a bakery, liquor and beer, or see a live performance at the grand Victoria Hall. The farmers’ market on Saturday mornings is set up around the picturesque water fountain and right next to Millstone Bread. Get a butter tart fix there; they’re part of the ButterTartTour.ca. Trek the back streets to admire mid-1800s architecture and discover the Sifton-Cooke Centre where interpretive signage explains the architectural growth of Cobourg over 220 years. The kids will love the outdoor model railway, and, speaking of rail lines, you can head north five blocks to the VIA Rail Station to greet any visiting guests you may have coming in by train.
West of town is the Marie Dressler Museum where you’ll get to know one of Hollywood’s most beloved film stars born in Cobourg. See a selection of photographs, artifacts, and digital interactive content.
At the beach, closer to the Victoria Park bandshell, there are swankier cruising bikes to rent in the summer months. You can try your hand at the 74km (46mi) Rice Lake Ramble or the 50km (31mi) Shelter Valley Route that begins in Cobourg and takes you into challenging-hill territory. A more level cycling choice would be the famous Great Lakes Waterfront Trail that runs west and east of the marina; you’ll find signage with a trail map immediately south of the marina building. Nearby the marina, you’ll find a prime bird-watching area, a vast, sandy beach, a water splashpad, a canteen, and a long pier stretching into Lake Ontario. Stand up paddleboards and kayaks are offered for rent by Green Canoe Outfitters at the east end of the beach. At the waterfront are very popular events such as the Sandcastle Festival/Sidewalk Sale, Waterfront Festival, and concerts at the Victoria Park bandshell.
About 35km (22mi) east is the Municipality of Brighton where, at Presqu’ile Bay, you’ll find a lovely spot to pull in for lunch at either the Whistling Duck (four courtesy docking slips), or immediately north of Presqu’ile’s lighthouse at the Harbourview Marina and Café. Both of these restaurants have patios on the water and back up to quiet backroads, should you need a stretch. If you’re so inclined, a short 2km (1.2mi) walk takes you to a vibrant main street for shoes, books, clothes, more restaurants and, of course, chocolate.
In-town events include Wednesday Concerts in the Park, Canada Day festivities, Art on Main Street, and Applefest.
West by 2km, at the gates to Presqu’ile Provincial Park, is the new Birdhouse Nature Store so you can load up on nature-inspired gifts. This is also a prime spot for birding with the vast marshland leading up to the Nature Store. Next door is a Chip Truck and a Yogurt Truck (where you can also rent SUPs).
Within Presqu’ile Bay is the Murray Canal, which leads to the gateway of the Trent-Severn Waterway at Trenton, so you can continue to wind your way northbound for 386km (240mi) of more fun.
Begin your adventure at www.northumberlandtourism.com today!