In just over a week I will be heading out to thru hike the 327km Rideau Trail from Kingston to Ottawa. I will be heading out with one of my best friends, Aidan, and we anticipate it taking us 12 to 14 days.
Don’t forget to check out the Rideau Trail Association’s website where they have all trail maps available for free and you can see the amazing work they are doing to maintain the trail and encourage outdoor activity!
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The Rideau Trail goes from Kingston City Hall to Parliament in Ottawa, and spans over 387km with all side loops included. Going northbound to Ottawa the trail is marked with orange triangles, and going southbound to Kingston the trail is marked with orange triangles that have yellow tips. All side trails are marked with blue triangles.
The Rideau Trail Association established and maintained the trail since 1971, encouraging “low-impact, and self-propelled” use of the network of trails. The trail is made possible by generosity of both private and public land owners that allow use by the Rideau Trail Association.
The trail is split into 19 sections with the corresponding maps all available on the Rideau Trail website for free to members and non-members. The trail goes through small towns along the way such as Sydenham, Frontenac, Westport, and more as well as through a few conservation areas like Foley Mountain and Gould Lake. The trail is maintained by the generous work of RTA Volunteers.
Along the trail we will be tent camping the whole way. This has been a little tricky to plan as camping along the majority of the trail is not allowed due to the trail going through private lands. Thus, some nights we do plan to quietly and respectfully (and stealthily…) camp off of the trail in forested areas.
The beginning 5 days of our trip are more set in stone since we have camp site reservations that we will need to make on specific days. The rest of the trip will depend on how many kms we can pump out in the day, we are planning to average 30kms a day.
The only actual sites we have booked are at Frontenac Park Doe Lake on Day 3, and at Foley Mountain Conservation area on Day 6. From Kingston to Frontenac Park is about 66km and then from Frontenac to Foley Mountain is another 58kms. If you ever plan to hike part or all of the Rideau Trail you can camp at Foley Mountain for free! Just email the conservation and they will make you a permit.
From Foley we plan to camp along the locks for the majority of the rest of the trail until we get to the Ottawa area where we will sleep at family or friends, or stealth camp depending on the area. There are private campsites (Wesley Grove or KOA) along the way but these are pretty pricey since they are car camping sites and not backcountry. We may stay at one along the way.
We do have some distance goals for each day and rough areas of where we want to camp but we are going to take it day by day to see how we feel and how far we can make it!
In June I wrote a blog post on my gear choices for the Highland Trail. Not much has changed except for my big three which I will detail here.
On my Highland Trail trip I used the FreeKnight 50L pack I ordered from AliExpress that cost about $25. The pack held up well but it definitely did not feel like a 50L pack as I struggled to fit all of my gear, and unfortunately the top handle ripped when my hiking partner tried to lift our other partner by the strap of the bag (why… I don’t know). It also felt too small for my frame as I am quite tall and this is a non-adjustable pack.
So I took the plunge and purchased the 2018 Minimalist Ultralight Backpack from Six Moon Designs. The pack weighs about 35oz and is 40L with a 9L extension collar. Even though this pack is technically smaller than the FreeKnight, all of my stuff fits with ease and extra room. This pack is also adjustable so it fits me perfectly.
I tested the bag out on my trip to Frontenac park a couple weeks ago and my only complaint is that there are SO MANY STRAPS. However, that does mean it is more adjustable… but it does seem a little overkill in my humble opinion.
I love my Skyscape Scout solo tent from Six Moon Designs (please sponsor me), however for this trip we will only be bringing one tent to be able to camp stealthier. The tent we will be bringing is the NatureHike tent Star-River 2-person tent. The tent weighs about 4.6lbs (73oz), although I was able to shave some weight by removing excess stakes and stuff sacks.
I have yet to test this out in the rain and see if it is actually waterproof as it claims to be, but I do plan on setting it up this weekend on a rainy night to make sure it is before taking it out on the trail. I will be carrying in the tent and my hiking partner will be carrying extra food to offset the weight.
After my Highland Trail hike I realized the mountain warehouse sleeping bag I was using was simply not warm enough for any weather below 18°c or so. Even with my Sea to Summit therma liner (supposed to add 8°c of warmth) I froze both nights, so I decided to go ahead and purchase the Kelty Ultra 800 DriDown bag.
I used this bag in Frontenac Park and ended up being too warm but was able to unzip and cool down. I would much rather this over being too cold. The bag is 41oz and I use a ALPS mountaineering stuff sack to compress it down to fit into my pack.
For my sleeping pad I will still be using the Hikenture UL Sleeping Pad, which I have reviewed previously. After sleeping on it for a few nights in Algonquin and Frontenac, I don’t love it but a new pad is out of my budget at the moment. If you’re a side sleeper I don’t recommend it. For the price it is alright, and it is definitely better than sleeping on the floor. However, if you can afford a better pad I would definitely recommend doing that outright.
I will also be adding a Spot Gen 3 to my gear list for safety along the trail in areas with no service. All my other gear has for the most part stayed the same, and you can see my Lighterpack for a more detailed breakdown of what I am bringing!
I recently bought the Hamilton Beach Dehydrator and let me just say, I AM IN LOVE! When I purchased it, it was only $60, which is the cost of about 5 pre-dehydrated backpacking meals so I figured it would be worth it.
For the trip we will be carrying 12 dehydrated meals (including 4 pre-purchased meals I bought on clearance) so we do not have to resupply our dinners or mail it out to us on the trail.
Our menu includes:
- Pasta with Tomato Bolognese
- Pasta with Pesto (if I can find the dehydrated sauce mix somewhere)
- Rice noodle soup with tofu and broccoli
- Basmati Rice and Lentil Daal
- Sheppard’s pie with instant mash, dehydrated vegetables, and soy flakes (and gravy)
- Mac and Cheese
- Quinoa and Veggie Soup
- Backcountry Meals (pre-purchased)
We will also be carrying about 3 days of snacks and breakfast/lunch with us as those will be way easier to resupply in the small towns along the way. Hopefully we will also be able to grab some hot and fresh meals in the towns along the way! (And a beer or two, haha).
We are both super excited for this trip as it will be the longest trail we have both ever been on! Wish us luck and don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel where I will be vlogging the adventure!
Have you ever completed a long distance trail?
Do you plan to?? Let me know in the comments!
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