Highlander Beers and Outdoor Fun in South River
In a part of Ontario you may not have heard of there is a fantastic brewery called Highlander Brew Co., and there just happens to be a variety of outdoor adventures in town and nearby to make this place a very worthy beer and adventure destination.
Rugged wilderness surrounds South River in the Almaguin Highlands – just north of Muskoka. Close to Mikisew and Algonquin Provincial Parks (with a popular western access point into Algonquin found here), you’ll also discover plenty of lakes, rivers and public parks to enjoy some respite in the province’s great outdoors. Maybe organize your own Highland Games as well!
After having visited the brewery and South River, I’m keen to return and plan a week-long canoeing or dog-sledding trip into the wilderness, fueled by Highlander beers. But if you can’t muster a week off, a few days or even a day trip is still worthwhile.
In the spirit of beer and highlands games, here are my top three ways to combine a brewery visit with additional fun in South River in all four seasons.
Summer Fun with Lion Grass Ale
Though a little north of Muskoka, the village of South River is easy to get to as it is located right off Highway 11. Summer means sunshine and hot days, so a Lion Grass Ale – made with dandelions – is the perfect choice to quench your thirst when you visit the Highland Brew Co.
Looking for something else to do close by? Consider some rugged disc golf action followed by a “Highlander sandwich” at Sherri’s Diner nearby.
Algonquin Disc Golf calls Tom Thomson Park home, right in South River. The park is only a 5-minute walk from Highlander Brew Co., and has a great setting right on a lake. The disc golf course here is pretty gnarly. Some of the holes are quite a challenge with rows or trees, the lake and blind shots all potentially getting in the way. I’ve played disc golf a number of times, usually at Toronto Island, while enjoying a beer or two. Tom Thomson Park and its proximity to the brewery make for the perfect beer+game combination for folks who enjoy this fun outdoor activity.
And a little trivia: The park is named after the famous Canadian artist Tom Thomson, who helped inspire the work of the Group of Seven. He worked in nearby Algonquin Park and this part of Ontario is where he painted many of his works. Tom stayed in South River numerous times and canoed between South River and Algonquin back in 1914 and 1915, just a couple of years before his mysterious drowning in Algonquin Park.
Afterwards head to Sherri’s Diner (on Highway 11, just north of the LCBO, on the opposite side of the road). It’s a tricky spot to find, but they serve up some tasty diner eats, including great sandwiches like the “Highlander” (piled high with deliciousness and named after the folks from the brewery).
Spring and Fall Fun with Scottish Ale
To me, spring and fall are the best seasons for camping. The cooler nights are perfect for campfires and a soothing Scottish Ale! But really, canoeing and camping when the trees are turning green in spring, or leaves changing colour in fall, can’t be beat.
You can go it on your own, as the South River access point to Algonquin Park is the second most popular spot after the Highway 60 corridor further south. But if you’re coming from afar or don’t have your own gear, you can check with Voyageur Quest or Northern Edge Algonquin about opportunities for guided canoe trips.
Just don’t forget to stock up on Scottish Ale first, as it makes a perfect ingredient in hearty stews and chilis that are great for spring and fall excursions.
Winter Fun with Chocpaw Expeditions and Blacksmith Porter
Visiting in winter is probably the quietest but most beautiful time to head to South River. Skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and camping are all fun ways to enjoy winter here.
And don’t forget dogsledding! You’ll get a great workout on a dogsled adventure with Chocpaw Expeditions, North America’s largest dogsled operation that is based here; you can choose anything from a ½ day family adventure to a week-long wilderness retreat on Crown Land and into Algonquin Park. (Chocpaw also offers guided canoe trips into Algonquin.)
The best part of the day-trip tours? They finish mid-afternoon and Chocpaw is located right near Highlander Brew Co. So after your sledding adventure, hop over to the brewery and warm yourself with some Blacksmith Smoked Porter, the perfect winter brew!
Whichever season you visit, Highlander Brew Co. is there to quench your thirst, and South River is ready to provide an unforgettable outdoor adventure.
IF YOU GO: Contact ahead to arrange a tour and tasting: telephone (705) 792-0808 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
MORE TO SEE & DO:
Swift Canoe Outdoor Centre (for a ton of paddling info)
About Red Hunt
Red is a veteran travel writer who has written over 600 articles and newsletters to date about his adventures all over the world. Though he enjoys discovering lesser-known spots across the globe, he also enjoys trips into Ontario’s great outdoors. A big fan of craft beer, Red is known to sample local brews wherever he goes. For more information, visit www.redhunttravel.com
This article has been reprinted with permission by Explorers’ Edge.