Escape the urban grind.
Lookout Lodge is the right place for someone who wants to get off the internet and away from the cell phone for a few days. There's no WiFi or even television here, so it's perfect for meditation, reading and writing, painting and drawing, or outdoor activities like these:
Lookout Lodge lies on the windward side of Charleston Lake's Big Waters, so it sees high waves several days a week. Experienced swimmers will have a lot of fun. (Aqua socks are recommended for wading among the rocks; these are widely available for $10 to $15 at shops like Stedman's on Main Street in Athens.)
Non-swimmers and parents of young children will enjoy Sand Bay County Park, about 20 minutes away by car or boat, at the north end of Charleston Lake. There's also a sheltered sandy beach at Charleston Lake Provincial Park; Brown's Bay is a charming old-fashioned beach park on the St. Lawrence River about 45 minutes away, .
Canoes and kayaks can be launched from the dock at Lookout Lodge on all but the roughest days. Paddling maps for various water routes are available. The cottage is situated near the mouth of Leeder's Creek, a completely uninhabited natural marsh area filled with wildlife that makes an unforgettable canoe trip.
Motor boats can be launched from Charleston Lake Provincial Park, where canoes and kayaks can be rented, or from Kelsey's Marina in Charleston Village, which also rents various types of boats. Charleston Lake Watersports in Charleston Village offers lessons in waterskiing, wakeboarding and other water sports.
By law, anyone who operates any motorized watercraft in Canada must hold a Pleasure Craft Operator Card or boat license. Canoes, kayaks and rowboats are exempt from this requirement.
Fishing and Hunting
Charleston Lake has been renowned as a fishing lake for more than a century, and its fish stocks – including lake trout, bass, pike, crappie and bluegill – are carefully monitored and protected.
Adults (over 18) must hold an Outdoors Card and a valid Ontario fishing license in order to fish anywhere in the province. These are available for a modest fee online and at Lainee's Coffee Convenience Collectibles in Athens, Canadian Tire in Brockville and Bridgeisland Motel & RV Park in Mallorytown, among other locations. These outlets can also provide information on fishing seasons and catch limits.
To hunt in Ontario, most people need a hunting version Outdoors Card and the applicable license tags or license. There is a fall deer hunting season at Charleston Lake.
Hiking and Cycling
Lookout Lodge lies on a well maintained gravel road through cottage lots and uninhabited woodland that connects with both smaller rural highways and (to the southeast) a narrow abandoned logging road through the woods.Only a few cars an hour travel the cottage road.
The Friends of Charleston Lake have mapped several downloadable hiking routes, including the ascent of Blue Mountain at the foot of the lake, which is also used by mountain bikers. Experienced road cyclists will be interested in the 73-km circuit around the Lake.
Birdwatching and Animal Observation
Great Blue Heron at Charleston Lake
The Charleston Lake area is home to 35 kinds of mammals. The most common are squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons. Foxes, deer (in late fall and winter), skunks, fishers and other mammals are sometimes seen.
There are also over 100 varieties of birds. Great Blue Herons, loons, various pretty warblers and seagulls are common. Dawn and dusk are the best times to see wildlife... although you're likely to spot turtles and loons swimming in the lake at any time of day.
The area supports 31 types of reptiles and amphibians. Snakes that have been noted in the area include the endangered gray ratsnake (formerly the black ratsnake), the garter snake, eastern hog-nosed snake, ribbon snake, milksnake and foxsnake. Ontario has only one type of venemous snake, the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. None have been reported near Lookout Lodge in the past 50 years.
Keen-eyed observers have been known to spot the snapping turtle, the elusive musk turtle, the painted turtle, the map turtle, the wood turtle and the endangered Blanding's turtle. Numerous frogs live in the area, especially leopard frogs, green frogs and bullfrogs.
Photo used with the kind permission of Kyle Blaney..
Part of Charleston Lake Provincial Park is set aside as a dark sky reserve, and even on the waterfront at Lookout Lodge, the night sky is filled with stars that are invisible in the city.
During June, July and August, prominent constellations include Ursa Major and Ursa Minor (the Big and Little Dippers), Boötes the Herdsman, Draco the Dragon, Aquila the Eagle, Cygnus the Swan and Lyra the Lyre, containing the first magnitude star Vega, which shines with a blue light directly overhead.
In August, the Perseid meteor showers (pictured) are seen – and sometimes heard. Very occasionally a stunning display of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) can be seen.
Photo by Aresauburn