There are no shortage of places in Lennox & Addington for nature lovers to explore. Beautiful parks, conservation areas, lakes and rivers are enjoyed throughout the county.
Many may not be aware that L&A has three areas that are under Ontario Parks' jurisdiction. Most everyone has heard of Bon Echo Provincial Park, the County's most popular tourist attraction. Menzel Centennial Provincial Nature Reserve near Roblin is becoming a popular hiking destination for residents and visitors and is under the wing of Ontario Parks as well.
Until recently, Puzzle Lake Provincial Park - located northeast of Tamworth - is a place I'd never visited before. It's a non-operating provincial park, meaning there are no designated park entrances, nor are there activities or hiking trail markers available. If you're looking for unspoiled natural beauty, you've certainly come to the right spot.
There are a few ways into the park, which is more than 9,000 acres in size. Lindsey Furlong from L&A's Community & Development Services department frequents the park and offered to take me on a hike to show me around the area. On a mild spring morning we hit the road to Tamworth to her preferred route in - a 10.6 kilometre in-and-out hike to Norway Lake via Norway Lake Road.
After making a quick stop in Tamworth to pick up a to-go lunch, we took Mountain Road to Bellheck Road east of the village. As we entered the vicinity I could already tell this place was going to be right up my alley. The gravel road was lined with mature trees on either side, creating more than a kilometre of leafy tunnel.
There were farmer's fields visible through the trees, and cattle were relaxing nearby in the shade.
At Fire Marker 503 near a sharp bend in the road Lindsey recommended that I park the vehicle, as the route quickly turns into more of a hiking path than a driveable roadway. From there, we began our hike to Norway Lake. According to the signage posted to trees along the trail, this portion of the route doubles as a snowmobile trail in the winter. Less than hundred metres in I was glad that I wasn't in my truck. The terrain became quite rocky very quickly and there were quite a few large puddles that would have caused some issues.
Lindsey and I had our cameras at the ready. The photos we've included here help to show how unspoiled this area really is. The view was amazing in all directions and you couldn't help but hear the loud chirping of many species of birds nearby. We didn't see a lot of wildlife (probably because we were talking too much), but we did see some fresh tracks in the mud.
Frogs had taken up residence in large puddles along the trail.
The land along the trail was full of Trilliums - red, white, and many of these pink hybrids.
All this was discovered already, and technically we weren't even inside the park boundary yet.
Not long after officially entering the park, we came across a swiftly flowing stream along the trail.
The hike in was longer than anticipated and when we reached the hydro lines I was assured that we were almost to the lake.
The hike in was worth it on its own, and arriving at Norway Lake was icing on the cake. The view was amazing. Notice the mosquitoes photo-bombing this image (a friendly reminder to remember your bug spray).
The shoreline was alive with activity, including numerous red winged black birds.
There are three camp sites at this end point location where Lindsey and I enjoyed our packed lunches. There was a restroom sign, which at first I thought was a joke by park staff to leading people to the woods, but it turns out there actually is a very modest restroom available for use.
We spotted a canoe pulled up on shore, making for a perfect nature photo. On the hike back we ran into the canoe owners returning from a hike of their own. They had paddled to Norway Lake after starting at the Gull Lake boat launch and portages to Puzzle Lake, Loyst Lake and Norway Mud Lake. Sounds like a fun trip for another day.
Here's a link to our AllTrails Map Route which was running on my phone during our visit to Puzzle Lake Provincial Park. The link also shows the portage route if you choose to get here by canoe or kayak. Either way, a visit here definitely worth it.