Spring is in the air and a new season of adventure calls. Looking for outdoor fun in a welcoming setting? Head to the Village of South River! Just 2 ½ hours north of Toronto, the Village borders Algonquin Park, Canada’s first and most famous provincial park. The region shares the same iconic landscapes and wilderness atmosphere as Algonquin, with a fraction of the people you will find along the Park’s Highway 60 corridor. Not sure where to start? The new Explore South River app and website acts as your personal guide to make the most of this natural and historic destination. The Explore South River app (available for iOS and Android) features several categories from Play and Arts to Stories and Events. Download the app and your smartphone will become the gateway to your spring and summer travels throughout the area.
South River is all about adventure. Tom Thomson, one of Canada’s most significant artists, and inspiration to the Group of Seven, paddled the Village’s namesake South River to and from Algonquin Park to resupply for many of his painting and guiding travels. Use the app to guide you to Tom Thomson Park where you can picnic on the river, sit and read or paint on a secluded bench or play an exciting game of disc golf with your friends. You can also experience the Tom Thomson Trail, a well marked 2km reclaimed portage that runs between Kawawaymog and Mary-Jane lakes. Using the Play category in the app will provide you with more details about these destinations, including Google Map links that make it simple to plan your wilderness tour.
South River is surrounded by an amazing trail system that is managed and maintained by local organizations such as Discovery Routes, the Forgotten Trails Association and dedicated volunteers. Looking for a trail with a view? The Laurier Tower Trail takes you to the site of a decommissioned fire tower while the Moose Mountain Trail provides elevated scenic views of the mature forest below. The Loxton Beaver Trail provides more than 8 km of challenging terrain that rewards hikers with views of Loxton and Beaver Lakes as well as a crossing of the Loxton Dam. South River is also located minutes from Mikisew Provincial Park which boasts several trails for hiking and wildlife viewing.
Prefer travelling on two wheels? South River is perfect for cyclists. Surrounded by scenic roads that wind over and though the terrain, there are enough routes to ensure you won’t need to ride the same road twice. Enjoy the vibrant greens of hardwood forests and fresh spring air as you cross landscapes steeped in history. If you are into road cycling, the region boasts challenging terrain, often with paved shoulders and with far fewer cars than roads further south. Gravel riders will find hours of challenging routes, from short rips near town to loops of 60 to 100 km in length.
Sometimes the best way to explore is by water. Paddlers of all skill levels, from young families to seasoned distance trekkers, will love the crisp, clear rivers and lakes. May is a great time to explore the South River. Paddle Tom Thomson’s original route and imagine what life was like in the early 1900s. Mikisew Provincial Park offers access to beautiful Eagle Lake, while the nearby Louck Lake Wetland Conservation Reserve is ideal for quiet wildlife and bird sighting.
The South River region is steeped in history, and now it’s easy to step back in time with the Explore South River app. Open the Stories feature and immerse yourself in the events and lives of the people that shaped this region. Logging baron J.R. Booth’s operations ran in and around the Village as the waterways and rail lines moved thousands of logs each season. The Standard Chemical Company, for which local Chemical Road is named after, used cordwood to produce wood alcohol, formaldehyde and coal and was once the Village’s largest employer. Follow the directions to historic panels where you can learn more about the history of this mighty area. Following in the footsteps of the eminent Tom Thomson, South River is also home to many talented local artists and artisans. Use the Arts category of the app to find details and maps to galleries and installations. Discover hidden gems (literally!) such as the Crystal Cave Mineral Exhibit and Crystal Shop, the Felting Shop and Fibre Arts Studio, Our Lavender Garden or the Naisa North Media Arts Centre and Café. Don’t forget – no trip to the area is complete without a stop at the South River Brewing Co. brewery for a tasting and opportunity to browse their retail store stocked with local artisanal arts and crafts.
Perhaps we’ve saved the best for last – events! South River is a community of fiercely proud individuals who enjoy getting together and volunteering to host fun and family-friendly events. Use the Events category in the Explore South River app to learn about all the exciting happenings throughout the region. Whether you live nearby, or you’re visiting from afar, there’s something for everyone in the growing list of vibrant and eclectic events taking place in the South River area. Check back often as new events are announced – you don’t want to miss the next incredible occasion.
You’ve endured the cold and ice and now it’s time to soak up spring and summer in the beautiful Village of South River. Feel the warm sun as it reflects off deep blue lakes and rivers and listen to the breeze whisper through fields and forests. Wildlife awakens, the season of renewal begins and adventure awaits around every corner. You’ll find many rivers, roads and trails to explore, far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Immerse yourself in the Algonquin Park experience without the traffic and lines found further south. Take in some history or experience the local arts scene. With so much to do and see, plan your next seasonal getaway with the help of the Explore South River app and website.
Written by Bill Farnsworth and Todd Lucier
Content created in partnership with Explorers Edge