Accessible wilderness” is how 1000 Islands Kayaking owner, Scott Ewart, describes the Thousand Islands. The archipelago remains delightfully unspoiled, despite its convenient geography.
Sandwiched in the St. Lawrence River between New York and Ontario, the islands are centrally located to population centers along the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor, yet only 90,000 visitors explore Thousand Islands National Park each year. Those who do, discover an unforgettable tapestry of granite islands, windswept pines and broad, sparkling waters.
The Thousand Islands—actually comprised of 1,864 isles—are an integral part of the ecologically rich Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, with more than 250 bird species migrating through every spring and fall.
Exploration is easy (and endless) thanks to the region’s well-organized conservation and paddling communities, which have created the Thousand Islands Water Trail—a series of nine interconnected day-trips between the small cities of Kingston and Brockville, which can be paddled in a myriad of combinations (www.frontenacarchbiosphere.ca).
Where to Go
If you Want to go guided
Based in the charming riverfront town of Gananoque, 1000 Islands Kayaking (www.1000islandskayaking.com) offers half-day, full-day and two-night trips in the nearby Admiralty Islands group (instruction and rentals also available).
Learn about the area’s rich history, paddle over a 1920 shipwreck and explore wetlands accessible only to paddlers.
If you Want to paddle into the sunset
Allow a full day to make the rewarding 20-kilometer circumnavigation of Grenadier Island. Highlights include scenic hiking trails, sandy swimming beaches, wildlife-filled marshes, a shipwreck and fine examples of historic architecture.
Depart from the village of Rockport to catch the sunset from a turn-of-the-century picnic shelter at the island’s west end before your return crossing.
If you’re Looking for adventure
Thousand Islands National Park encompasses 21 islands sprinkled between Kingston and Brockville, some offering cabins and campsites so paddlers can undertake a multi-day journey linking two or more sections of the water trail.
From Gananoque, spend a night or a week amid the hundreds of intimate, pine-clad islands in the wild and secluded Lake Fleet, Navy and Admiralty groups.
Live on island time in the Thousand Islands.| Photo: Zach Baranowski