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Monday, September 19, 2016

Furnace Falls, Kinmount & Head Lake

Sign at the edge of the historic park in Kinmount, Ontario, which is also a snowmobile trail.
Sign at park in Kinmount
Last year (2015), as in other years, we spent a day over by Kinmount, leaving Orillia along route 45 (aka "Monck Road") and stopping over in Kinmount, where one of our favourite parks is. Kinmount is a small and sleepy community once the summer is over and the cottagers have gone back to their city lives, but during the summer months it's bustling with cottagers, hikers, and sightseers.

It's a quaint little area, but I would warn you in advance that your best bet is to pack a picnic lunch because the very best place we've found to lunch is either the historic park at the dam and mill in Kinmount, or over at Furnace Falls, which can be busy in summer.

Old wheels and parts from a mill make unique garden art.
Millwheel 2016
Rusted millwheels used as outdoor art at Kinmount.We've been to Kinmount several times, specifically to visit this historic park, but we often go just after Labour Day, and during the week. It's usually fairly quiet and peaceful, with only the odd local showing up while we're there.

We've never been to the park when it was crowded with visitors, but I suspect if we visit during the height of the holiday season, we'd be hard pressed to find a parking spot (the parking area isn't very big, all things considered).

On our very first visit several years ago, we initially thought the park was a rather well-kept secret, with little other than the dam and dilapidated mill, with rusted bits and pieces scattered around near the entrance. There was the odd bench on the cut lawns, but not much else (other than a few ducks in the pond area). We checked out the mill, but it was closed up with no access and nothing much to recommend it ... the area near the waterfront was shuttered and locked with chain link fencing, so you couldn't get, or even see, any part of the inside.

A long view of some of the park area and damn at Kinmount, Ontario

We've stopped here on every visit to Kinmount, and on each there was some small, new addition to the park, but on our visit in 2016, we were surprised to see quite a lot of positive changes.

Artwork in the form of a tree, with leaves to represent the donations received for improvement and upkeep of the park and mill at Kinmount, Ontario.
The mill, while still locked up (I would think this is simply because the inside of the mill is dangerous and best not left accessible to the public), now sported a historic tableaux, a fund raising tree and an interesting explanation of the mill and milling operations at the time of it's heyday.

This was presented via a large TV screen embedded in a window of the mill, which the visitor could play by pushing a nearby button. Besides some images, it talked about the history of the mill and the area.

There were larger windows installed on the park side of the mill where you could walk along the porch and have a look inside to see the semi-restored equipment and mill areas.

Flower buckets adorned the porch-like area at the front of the mill. The waterfront area had been lined all the way to the end with large limestone or granite slabs, and some areas had steps leading up into the grassy areas of the park.

All along the water were baskets or pails of colourful flowers. There was a pretty wooden gazebo, a small playground area, and a larger covered picnic area.

The wooden gazebo at the park in Kinmount.
Park Gazebo
The most unique item in the park on that visit was a revolving blinds art display. A large oblong box with a display on the front, which appeared to run on it owns (from whatever was powering inside the box area) which revolved the blinds with the art pieces on it. Very interesting and quite different than anything I've seen in any other small parks.

Revolving blinds art display in Kinmount Park, circa 2015.
Revolving Art Display
We spent a good deal of time relaxing and exploring the new additions, and having our lunch here. After picking up our lunch left-overs and packing up the car, we left and as we usually do, headed over to Furnace Falls. Although the Furnace Falls area is essentially a small rest stop for travellers, it is pretty spectacular to just stop and watch the falls for a while. These are not traditional waterfalls, they are like steps for a giant whose size we could only imagine.


The water flows in rapids and eddys down these steps non-stop. If you walk out onto these "shelves" of stone you can feel the force of the water. This is not a place you'll want to take a canoe or kayak down ... the water is very shallow along some of these ridges, barely topping an adult's ankles. I waded out a little ways and just sat on a step, but quickly found myself having to scrabble around to find a hand-hold, as the water was pushing me down to the next step.

My husband, only recently able to walk again sat only at the very edge of the shore with his feet in the water, feeling rather leery about his ability to balance on the slippery rocks, or to keep from being washed all the way down the stairs. We usually spend an hour or more here, as it's often deserted but on this day, there were several families with children rushing back and forth through the water, and there are very few areas where it's safe to walk out to the water. Those areas were nearly inaccessible as the families had set up chairs and picnic things ON the rocks leading into the water.  We did rest here for a bit, with my husband dozing off in his chair, and me trying in vain to read my book ... the horse-flies were impossible to live with, and we soon packed up and headed back home to Orillia.

A view showing a small part of an inlet on Head Lake in Laxton Twp, Ontario.
Head Lake
On the way back home (same route we travelled on the way to Kinmount) we stopped along the edge of Head Lake to take a few photos and watch the lake. The parking areas just off the road are a little hidden and small, so you have to look for them, but it's a pretty place to stop and just enjoy the scenery.

Cottages along the shoreline at Head Lake, Ontario.
Cottages at Head Lake
We've tried several times this year (2016) to get back to Kinmount's park, and to Furance Falls but, circumstances being what they are sometimes, we just haven't managed to get a day that works. If we can't get over there before it gets too cold to enjoy the water, there's always next year. I don't think Kinmount or Furnace Falls is going anywhere!

Maps for Travel

The simple route from Orillia, Ontario to Kinmount and Furance Falls.


The entrance to the Furnace Falls area off the 503 is each to miss. Even though we know where it is, we've driven past it on several occassions and had to turn around and go back, so if you hit Bacon Road, you've gone too far.


More photos:

Orillia to Kinmount

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