We do the small loop that crowns the top of Dicksons Mountain (which, by the way is the highest peak in this immediate region, at a whopping 1220 feet above sea level). The southern part of this loop, where it skirts the edge of Dicksons' steep southern aspect, has several beautiful sections of open with great views to the south. This fourth lookout area, which doesn't officially have a name and which I'll christen the Dickson Mountain Lookouts, is in my mind tied for 2nd place with the Juniper Ridge Lookout, in terms of my ranking of Calabogie Peaks trail lookouts.
Dicksons Mountain Viewpoint
The rest of the loop around the top of Dicksons is standard-issue pleasant forest walking. We descend back down the steep backway connector to the Manitou Mountain Trail (along which I manage to sprain my ankle pretty good), and then continue west. We are now headed to the last of our major destinations today: the popular Eagles Nest Lookout.
To get to the Eagles Nest area, we have to follow a section of the trail that twins with a couple of active ATV paths, and there are indeed quite a few motorized riders out enjoying what had become a very fine early summer day. We also begin encountering other hikers - first a few, and then many more. Up until this point, we had not physically crossed paths with any other hikers (which was one of the main reasons why we had started our hike nice and early). It appears as if the regular hiker crowd doesn't like to get walking until about... let's see... looks like about 10 or 11 a.m. Then the floodgates appear to open.
With the stream of ATVers and hikers and dirt-bike riders, it was clear that the 'solitude' portion of our day was over. We continued west along the ATV track for approximately a mile, looking for the junction to the Little Pine Path. This path is the start of another scarp-following route that would bring us to the Eagles Nest and ultimate on to a trailhead on highway 508. Somewhat surprisingly, this junction was not well-marked (I'd now gotten conditioned to the point where I expected every junction to be well-marked).
Now on a pleasant and motorized-vehicle-free path again, we began our walk north to the Eagles Nest lookout. The density of hikers increased markedly as we approached.
Sharing with motorized travel
Junction Little Pine Path
It's only a few hundred metres of walking from the branch-off on to the Little Pine Path to the Eagles Nest. To our left, a dropoff begins to form, becoming higher and steeper the further we walk. A large expanse of open rock is then encountered, with a sharp 100-foot dropoff to the west. When you get to the edge of the drop-off and look along it, you observe several other prominent open-rock outcrops. Quite a few of these outcrops are overhanging. Nice.
After taking in the views from the main, most open lookout, we retreat to a less busy spot along the edge to have our lunch, which we share with a little coiled ribbon snake which is perched right on the edge (and which looks a little cold, quite frankly).
Gino Arrives, Eagles Nest
After lunch we visit the remaining outcrops along the Eagles Nest lookout area. We get to the one which is most popularly photographed for 'hero' shots - a very photogenic outthrust prow of rock that overhangs prominently. We take turns getting our own hero shots.
It's now time to complete our grand Calabogie Peaks traverse. We continue north along the Little Pine Path trail, which remains close to the scarp edge. Although not as high or open as the Eagles Nest lookout area, the scarp continues almost all the way back north to the trailhead. Along the way, we can see the gear and hear the shouts of climbers below. This is a popular rock and ice climbing area (I myself have ice climbed here many times, actually).
Soon we reach Calabogie Road (508) and the trailhead of the Little Pine Path. Where there had only been one other vehicle when we dropped off Gino's car at 7 a.m., there were now cars lining the highway in both directions for as far as the eye could see. A beautiful Sunday at noon is not the time to come here.
Rather than wait for laborious back-and-forth shuttling, we elected to don masks and travel all in Gino's car back to the starting trailhead, thus completing the day's adventure.
So, thoughts on hiking at Calabogie Peaks.... well, firstly, my worries about an overgrown and run-down trail network were completely unfounded. We sampled enough of the trails to confidently say that the trail network is in fine condition. There's minimal blowdown. The trails have generally good to excellent tread, and are not overly eroded. The signage and the blazing is actually very good. As far as scenery goes, I rank the five lookouts we visited thusly, from most scenic to least: (1) Eagles Nest, (2) Dicksons Mountain, (3) Juniper Ridge Lookout, (4) Manitou Mountain Lookout, and (5) the Red Arrow Rock Lookout. Apart from the lookouts there aren't many open areas nor is there much in the way of close-up water features. But, the forest walking is in places quite nice. And there's some real elevation gain and loss in spots, so you at least get a little bit of a mountain feel when hiking here. The twinning along the ATV trail can be a little smelly and noisy, but overall you'll not spend a large percentage of your along that stretch, so it's not that bad.
The distances between attractions aren't as far as they might first appear. Our overall distance was only 11.5 km, and that included a pretty long itinerary of trails and a few side-trips.
Overall... definitely better than expected. This is a worthwhile half-day hiking destination within a short drive of the Ottawa area.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Calabogie Peaks Traverse - click map to view
Calabogie Peaks Traverse - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet