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When Thoreau wrote about Walden Pond, he obviously didn't know about Little Lake. For this small lake in Ontario's Rideau Lakes area could certainly inspire prose. The less-than-200-acre lake lies about three miles east of the eastern tip of Clear Lake and two miles west of the village of Elgin, yet is almost totally unpopulated. A small number of cottages grace the two-mile shoreline. Little Lake is located in Ontario's Rideau Lakes region, which includes hundreds of lakes, some with several thousand acres. In an area focused on watersports, Little Lake is virtually un-discovered. The quiet lake is the perfect spot for solitude lovers; one could write, paint, or photograph nature inspired by the unspoiled surroundings throughout all the seasons.
Little official information for Little Lake is available. We know that the Province of Ontario considers Little Lake prime black crappie waters. Locals say it also contains pike, perch, bullheads, sunfish and shiners. Cottage owners advertising rentals on the lake describe the lake as ideal for swimming, fishing and water skiing. They also talk of the opportunity for solitude on the nearly deserted lake. The Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre lists a Little Lake Wetland Complex around the lake with five distinctive areas of wetland habitat, however the wetland is not developed for visitor interpretation and there is no public access. The Cataraqui Trail follows the old Canadian National rail bed along the north shore of the lake for nearly a half-mile. Trail users comment that it's a great spot to stop and picnic while enjoying the scenery. The Cataraqui Trail is a four-seasons trail open for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding and, in some areas, snowmobiling.
The majority of the Little Lake shoreline is private woodland or marsh. Only one road leads to the north shore from Clear Lake Road. Another small road leads through a farmyard and fields to cottages on the south shore. The entire area is a part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, revered for its diverse geology and variety of natural habitat.
But even Thoreau would agree that solitude is only valuable when one can return to civilization on occasion. At Little Lake, civilization is only a couple of short miles away. The town of Elgin on Highway 15 offers grocery stores, restaurants and medical services. Elgin was one of the first settlements in the township and retains many historic buildings. A walking tour is available and would provide inspiration for any aspiring author who retired to Little Lake to write the great Canadian historical novel! Even the most reclusive student of nature needs a place where he can drop into a small cafe for coffee with the locals on occasion.
Visitors looking for larger water bodies to enjoy will find that the Rideau Waterway is only a few miles away. Water access, including boat rentals and cruises, can be scheduled in Newboro. The hiking enthusiast may choose to trek the Cataraqui Trail to Chaffeys Lock only a couple of hours walk away. Smiths Falls is 22 miles up the trail in the opposite direction. Driving and cycling tours can be personalized from any of the more well-known locations near the Rideau Canal, including Elgin. What better way to enjoy nature while exploring the area?
Vacation rentals exist on Little Lake, but with a limited number of lakefront cottages, advance reservations will be necessary. Other rentals can be found around Elgin and the Rideau Waterway, including hotels and motels, bed-and-breakfasts, fishing camps and resorts. Real estate may be possible in the area but perhaps not directly on Little Lake. So, schedule your visit and bring your gear for your favorite hobby, be it fishing, photography or water skiing. Like Thoreau, discover the truth in this quote, "An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." You'll be up at dawn with the loons and the herons to enjoy every minute of every single day at Little Lake.
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