A bunch of people in snowshoe gear on top of a hill, looking at the small town. below.

Westport | Destination Ontario

Visit the Frontenac Arch in winter

A bunch of people in snowshoe gear on top of a hill, looking at the small town. below.

Westport | Destination Ontario

The Frontenac Arch is a UNESCO-designated world biosphere reserve that extends through Southeastern Ontario from the Canadian Shield down past the St. Lawrence River and Thousand Islands.

What is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve?

A biosphere reserve is a place or site that provides the opportunity to learn about and promote sustainable development. These special regions are recognized globally by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for their ecological, historical and cultural significance.

There are four UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves in Ontario, 18 in Canada, and over 700 biosphere reserves in over 100 countries.

Places to visit in the Frontenac Arch

Within Ontario’s biosphere reserves, several attractions have been nominated by locals as key places to visit for their rich history, culture and outdoor experiences.

Here are some of the highlights in the Frontenac Arch that are great for families to visit.

The Aquatarium

Start your trip with a visit to the Aquatarium in Brockville, which offers hands-on experiences for all ages and abilities. Learn about the history, geography, wildlife and recreation that make this area so unique.

Kids will love the interactive displays, seeing the fish swimming in the tanks and watching the otters play. 

Location: 6 Broad Street, Brockville

Spy Rock

Foley Mountain Conservation Area is a great family-friendly spot, so grab your snowshoes and explore the 10 kilometres of easy to slightly more challenging trails.

Walk out along the accessible walkway to Spy Rock for an unprecedented view of the Upper Rideau Lake and the town of Westport. 

Location: 105 Foley Mountain Lane, Westport

Silver Queen Mine Trail

The Silver Queen Mine Trail in Murphy’s Point Provincial Park is perfect for families looking for a short, easy winter trail.

This trail has lots to see and explore. All the park’s trails are perfect for snowshoeing, and 20 kilometres of trails are groomed for a variety of styles of cross-country skiing.

Location: 2243 Elm Grove Road, Perth

Mine Loop Trail

Looking for more of a challenge? Winter hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are waiting at Gould Lake Conservation Area.

The Mine Loop Trail was once the heart of the region's mica mining industry. Walk up and down the path that follows the shoreline of Gould Lake. Be prepared to forge your own path, though, since the trails are not groomed in the winter. 

Location: 1540 Gould Lake Road, Sydenham

Jones Falls Lock Station

The Rideau Canal lock stations can supply a fun-filled day of exploration. Jones Falls boasts the highest lift of the canal system at 17.8 metres (58.4 feet), so expect lots of hills to climb as you explore the four locks and restored buildings.

Whitefish Lake is a popular lake for fishing year-round, so if you’re missing the pull of a fish on your line, be sure to bring along your gear.

Location: Lock Road 146, Kenneys Road, Elgin

Lower Brewers Lock Station

Lower Brewers lock station in Kingston might appeal to those looking for a more leisurely stroll.  Cross the timber swing bridge and you will see Donner Studios and stunning views of the Cataraqui River.

Sit at the base of the lock and you might see a bald eagle circle overhead while you try your hand at ice fishing or just some fun in the snow. 

Location: Washburn Road 2601, Kingston

Haskin’s Point

According to the locals, this is the best spot for family fun. The stretches between the locks provide an abundance of winter recreation.

The small village of Seeley’s Bay is a perfect place for skating, snowmobiling, hiking, cross-country skiing and ice fishing.

Location: Haskins Point Road 148, Seeley’s Bay

Chimney Island

The Thousand Islands Parkway is a wide-open playground on a winter day—walk, snowshoe, ski or fat bike. With large snow-gripping tires, fat bikes allow for any path to become a cycling path.

Looking for a kid-friendly trek? Park at Mallorytown Landing and travel east 2.3 kilometres. Take a breather at the historic marker for Chimney Island, which was once a wartime garrison after the War of 1812.

Location: Thousand Islands Parkway 1113-1199, Mallorytown

Check out these other amazing places in Ontario that UNESCO wants you to experience.

Last updated: September 13, 2023

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