Looking for the ultimate hiking challenge this fall? Look no further! The Frontenac Challenge is just for you. Participants must hike all of Frontenac’s 11 hiking loops, totalling around 160 kilometres! The hikes must be completed between September 1 and October 31.
Along each hiking loop will be signs with clues related to each year’s theme. This year’s theme is orchids, in honour of a small group of dedicated volunteers that spent more than seven years researching and cataloguing the 19 types of Wild Orchids that are native to Frontenac.
Remember to record each clue as you will need to submit them online once you have completed the challenge! Participants that have completed the challenge will receive a certificate of completion, a badge, and will also have their name engraved on a plaque in the park office.
Not feeling up to the full challenge? No worries! Try the Frontenac Trek, where you only need to hike any six of the main loops (excluding Arab Lake Gorge Trail and Doe Lake Loop) rather than all 11 hiking loops.
Include the kids! Youngsters under 12 years of age can take part in the Junior Challenge, where they hike any six of the main loops in the park.
How to prepare for the challenge
You can register for the challenge online through the Friends of Frontenac website between August 1 and October 15. There is a $5.00 admin fee for registrants that are non-members of the Friends of Frontenac. Members of the Friends of Frontenac can register for free.
Please contact the park for assistance with registration.
Research the trails
Research the trails in advance to plan out your routes. Some of the hiking loops cannot be directly accessed from where you park. Remember, all of the loops must be hiked in their entirety, meaning if two loops share a section of trail, it must be hiked twice. Consider hiking loops that are adjacent to each other in a “figure eight” style. To help plan your hikes, consider buying a park map. Park maps are available for purchase at the park office, as well as online through the Friends of Frontenac website or the Ontario Parks store.
Enjoy backcountry camping? Camping at nearby campsites can be a great way to access some of the “land locked” loops such as Hemlock Lake Loop and Gibson Lake Loop.
Plan your visits
Weekends can be busy, and if you’d prefer to have a quieter experience on the trails, weekdays are your best bet.
Daylengths gets shorter throughout the fall season, be sure to arrive early so you can complete your hike in the daylight, and for a less busy experience.
Remember, many of Frontenac’s trails are long and can require an entire day to complete.
Temperatures in the fall can vary day-to-day and between morning and afternoon. It is important to keep an eye on the weather forecast and prepare accordingly.
Good hiking boots and socks are a must when completing the Frontenac Challenge.
Located in the Frontenac Arch, Frontenac’s terrain can be quite rugged in sections. Hiking poles can also be a great option, especially on those high kilometre days.
What to bring
Remember to pack the essentials when going out for hikes, it can make a difference between having an enjoyable day hike versus potentially getting yourself stuck in a not so pleasant situation.
The first and best place to start is getting a good comfortable backpack to carry your supplies. Having a good backpack allows you to be prepared and hike longer distances more comfortably.
Weather appropriate clothing
Fall weather can be kind of finicky. Be sure to dress in layers.
Days can start out cool and be quite warm by the afternoon. It’s best to be prepared for both. Don’t forget a waterproof/windproof layer for those sudden fall showers. Always pack an extra pair of socks in case you get a soaker!
It’s very important to stay hydrated while hiking. Be sure to pack lots of water and also a back-up such as water treatment tablets or a filter in case you run out!
You’ll be burning lots of calories when hiking so it’s important to replenish those calories! Pack calorie-dense food such as dried fruits and nuts, protein/energy bars, hard cheese and jerky.
Fresh food such as apples and berries are a great little pick me up on the trail as well. Try to pack food in reusable containers and always pack out what you pack in.
The trails in Frontenac are very well marked but always pack a map in case you get turned around.
Day lengths are shorter in the fall so it’s best to be prepared in case you get caught on the trail after dark. Pack a flashlight, or better yet a headlamp, just in case!
In case of an emergency, it’s good practice to have supplies for starting and maintaining a fire. Packing a box of waterproof matches is always a good idea.
The one item in your pack that you hope to never need to use but are sure glad you have it when you need it.
Sunscreen might not be on the top of your mind when packing for a day hike in the fall but it’s still important! Pack a hat and sunglasses to help protect your face and eyes. Apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. Don’t forget the SPF-rated lip balm!
While the mosquitos and deer flies are gone for the season, ticks are still something to be mindful of when hiking in the fall. Use insect repellent containing Deet and tuck your long pants into your socks. Always carry tweezers or a “tick key” in case one manages to hitch a ride.
Submit your completion log
Once you have completed the challenge, submit your completion log online. All completion logs MUST be submitted by 11:59 pm on October 31.
See you on the trails!
If you’re taking the challenge, Frontenac would love to see and hear about your progress!
Use #FrontenacChallenge on social media and be sure to tag the park in your hiking photos (@frontenacpp) for a chance to be featured on their page. Please do not post any photos or videos with the challenge clues until the challenge is over.
Planning on camping at the park while completing your challenge? Check out these backcountry blogs for a safe and successful trip.