Murphy’s Point Provincial Park
There’s no off-leash park or dog exercise areas in Murphy’s Point Provincial Park, but that didn’t stop us from stopping there on the way home from a weekend in Eastern Ontario early fall 2021. First thing we did was drive through the park all the way to the beach where we disembarked (from the car) to have lunch under a pavilion overlooking the bay. Thanks to an unseasonably warm fall, people were in the water, paddle boarding and boating.
The entire park is adjacent to Big Rideau Lake – so there’s a beautiful water-side main beach beside Hogg Bay. ‘No dogs’ signs are posted in front of the crescent of sand beach, but picnic tables are nearby, and nobody minded the dog there, so it was a good place to lunch during our road trip home from a night in a caboose in Smiths Falls (check it out).
Hogg Bay Beach
The main beach is also where you’d go to pick up the canoes or kayaks you might have rented at the Park Store – we didn’t. A side note: you can also borrow fishing tackle there for free. Again, we didn’t. Instead, my dog Victoria busied herself sniffing every scent possible including along a winding path that led a clear view of a big black water snake. (What kind, I have no idea. We kept our distance).
If we had continued past the snakes along the 1.8 km trail from Hogg Bay Campground, we would have found the restored McParlan House, site of an 1800s sawmill, farm, and cottage, now an archaeological site. Murphy’s Point is as much about history as it is the great outdoors.
The Sylvan Trail
After lunch along the beach, we parked the car in the boat trailer lot – Murphy’s Point has a boat launch – and headed into the woods. The Sylvan Trail meandering through the woods along easy to walk wide paths and encountering other dogs is likely, but leashes are required. This 2.5 km trail loops through the Frontenac Arch – little did I know that’s the southernmost point of the Canadian Shield.
We didn’t do the entire trail (not even close). Stopping to stiff at each tree then lunge at every bird takes time. Dog hikers more ambitious than us can take the Sylvan Trail to the Point Trail, a 5.5. km loop at the tip of the peninsula offering good views of Big Rideau Lake.
Silver Queen Mica Mine
A unique feature of this provincial park is the mine: On a second site about a six-minute drive from the main park is additional campsites and the Silver Queen Mine, an early 1900s mica mine. Tours are available if you sign up in time. Unfortunately, the last tour of the day was full the Sunday we were there, so we went in search of the mines ourselves. We didn’t find them.
Apparently, we weren’t far. If you’re better with a map than I am, follow the 2km long partial loop leading from the Lally Homestead. You’ll end up at the Silver Queen Mine, a restored early 1900s open pit mica mine and rebuilt miner’s bunkhouse – access to inside either is only available on the tour.
But what we did find at Murphy’s Point second site near wetlands was a great place to walk the dog along the Lally Homestead Trail an 800-meter loop through an abandoned farm field, which we might have done twice in search of the mines. You’ll end up at an ideal spot for some staged pics among some ruins of previous stone buildings. This former homestead site is popular with photographers especially for wedding photos (which requires a permit). Dog pics, however, are free – so long as she sits and stays.
Murphy’s Point Facilities
Tent, car and RV camping sites available and some backcountry camping, including boat-in sites along Lake Rideau. The backcountry campsites are accessible by water only. Three group campsites for 12 to 50 people. Dogs can stay at campsites. Camping and day use May to October.
One roofed accommodation – a one-room rustic cabin – is available at site 41 that apparently sleeps up to 5 people in bunk beds, but there is microwave, mini-fridge, and coffee maker. There are four deluxe tents and five deluxe yurts. The cabin and yurts all have gas barbeques but aren’t listed as dog friendly.
In the winter, the park is open for cross-country skiing: 14 km for classic skiing and 8 km for backcountry skiing. Snowshoeing is permitted on all the trails, including past the former mica mine, but none of the hiking trails are maintained during the winter, which is December to mid-March.
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Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for 30 years and travel writer for the last 20. She’s a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America, and travels almost weekly with her canine companion.