The Trent-Severn Waterway is a scenic 386 km stretch connecting Lake Ontario to Lake Huron. A National Historic Site of Canada, the Waterway naturally has a storied past, but today serves as a recreational attraction to the boaters, paddlers, cyclists, and other visitors drawn to explore its scenic, meandering route. Nestled along its length are a series of charming communities known as the Trent-Severn Trail Towns – in this post we’ll look at Northumberland County’s Hastings.
The Trent-Severn Waterway is literally central to the town of Hastings. The two sides of town are joined by an historic swing bridge at Lock 18, which ensures the flow of land and water traffic in the warmer months. Head southwest and you’ll find yourself at the mouth of Rice Lake, a scenic destination deserving of a blog post all its own. Boat in this direction and you can look forward to 60 km of uninterrupted water before reaching Lock 19 in Peterborough. Head northeast, and you’ll be wending your way toward fellow Trail Town Campbellford.
Chances are you’ll want to linger in Hastings awhile, though. Fishing enthusiasts consider it prime territory – in 2012, the World Fishing Network named Hastings Canada’s Ultimate Fishing Town. Even if you’re not fishing from a boat, the core wall above Lock 18 provides excellent opportunities to cast your line from the shoreline. Muskie, pickerel, walleye, pike, and more abound in these waters. In Hastings Pisces Park (3 Dit Clapper Dr.) you’ll find a 12’ long walleye sculpture named Pisces Pete, built by artist Bill Lishman, testifying to the importance of sport fishing in the region.
Cyclists find plenty to enjoy here, too. The Great Trail provides two prime stretches in either direction, continuing up to Peterborough or down to Campbellford through green, pastoral landscapes. Hikers should take the trip to nearby Peter’s Wood to see the last surviving stand of old-growth forest in the Oak Ridges Moraine. The scale of the forest is highly impressive despite a very manageable trail length of about 1 km.
Hastings has plenty to reward yourself with after a day on the water or the trails. If you’re staying overnight, Hastings House B&B can offer you a customized menu of local food. Book the Champlain Tour while you’re there and you’ll learn about the Percy Portage, an historically important passage for Hurons, Iroquois and Mississaugas that may also have been used by Samuel de Champlain in 1615. If you’re not grilling the catch of the day yourself, Banjo’s Grill and McGillicafey’s Pub and Eatery serve up delicious meals. McGillicafey’s, located right at Lock 18, has brewed a special Trail Town IPA that pairs well with their pizza, pasta, and pub fare.
Stop in for a visit and it’ll become clear why Hastings is known as the “Hub of the Trent.” Between fresh local food, best-in-class fishing, gorgeous trails, and rich history, you’ll definitely want to make time for Hastings on your Trail Town itinerary.