Discovering The Trent Severn Waterway, Part Two – Trenton to Peterborough

It All Starts at Trenton

On Lake Ontario’s eastern shore sits ‘Mile Zero’, the official start to the Trent Severn Waterway. Known as the ‘Gateway to The Trent Severn Waterway’, Trenton is the first Canadian port that many cruisers who are completing America’s Great Loop enter in to. Whether you are part of that year long circumnavigation of North America or a local area boater, Trenton offers a wide array of on water services, as well as ample shopping, restaurants, and professional care providers. Pretty much all of these services are located right in town, which is bisected by the Trent Canal, so one doesn’t have to venture too far off the water to get most of what might be needed.

gateway bridge, trenton

All tied up at Fraser Park Marina, right next to the Gateway Bridge.

For those who wish to stretch their legs, there are hiking and bike trails that follow right alongside the Trent Canal. Close by is Canadian Forces Base Trenton, one the largest air bases in the country. It also houses the National Air Force Museum of Canada. The museum offers free admission and features dozens of preserved war birds as well as displays of artifacts from conflicts through the years.

Getting Going

Leaving Trenton, the canal system runs north-west on its journey to Georgian Bay. Lets get the adventure going!

Lock #6 at Frankford lies only a few miles north of Trenton, but offers a good rest stop for those who might be ‘doing the locks’ for the first time. Keep in mind that the locks at the start of the system are of the old, manual style and passing through them may take anywhere from three to five hours, depending on traffic. With that in mind, a nice break may be in order by the time you get to the top of Lock #6.

Lock #6 at Frankford

Lock #6 at Frankford offers electrical shore power hookups + showers are available.

If you do decide to stop over for the night, there is hydro electric shore power available at the topside – one of only three locks on the entire system offering power connections. Needing a shower? You’re in luck here as well. The small municipal park adjacent to the lock has some camping spots and the showers provided are available for use by boaters. There is also a small grocery store just a stone’s throw away and the town’s business district is roughly a 20-30 minute walk away. Not too bad for a small village that is seemingly stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

Boaters’ Washrooms

A quick note on washrooms; every lock provides clean and bright washrooms. They have basic services, including flush toilets and large wash basins. Parks Canada (the operators of the system) is slowly introducing boater’s showers at some locations, with more expected in the coming navigation seasons. The washrooms are open to the public during operating (navigation) hours, but are locked at night. Boaters who have paid for their overnight mooring pass are given a key code to access the washrooms after the staff has left for the evening.

typical lock station

A typical lock station along the Trent Severn Waterway, complete with clean washrooms.

Onward and Upward

The village of Campbellford is next, providing a welcome stopover for a night or two. Serviced tie ups run along the main mooring wall, which forms part of the tree lined Old Mill Park. Downtown shops are steps away and give visitors a taste of small town Ontario at its finest.

And speaking of tastes, don’t miss a chance to drop in to Doohers Bakery. Their pastries and other goodies are renowned by travelers from across the country – and they even have a gluten free selection for those who prefer. After enjoying the heavenly treats, work off those calories with a walk or bike ride over to the 300′ long suspension bridge that spans the Ranney Gorge, located right next to Lock #12.

Old Mill Park, Campbellford

The long tie up wall at the Old Mill Park in Campbellford.

A Big Lake

After leaving Campbellford, the next community one comes to is the Village of Hastings. For those wishing to overnight here, there is a long tie up wall on the north side of the Trent River, immediately past Lock #18. This is a convenient place to stop if needing provisions, as a grocery store, LCBO liquor store and Beer Store are all within steps. As with most of the locks though, there is no shore power or water. For those amenities, there is the Hastings Village Marina, just across the river.

Hastings Village Marina

Hastings Village Marina offers excellent transient services for visiting and seasonal boaters.

When departing Hastings, it’s a short run westward to Rice Lake. The second largest body of water on the system, Rice Lake has a number of small marinas and resorts that cater to boats of all sizes. Renown for the great fishing, travelers through here are sure to see numerous fishing boats plying the waters.

Generally open and well marked, the Small Craft Route does present one hazard that boaters must be aware of ahead of time, that of an old railway cribbing that sits just below the surface. Although shown on the nautical charts and marked with two floating buoys, the safe passage through this obstruction is all too often missed by unwary navigators, so be cautious in the area.

Have a look at this ‘Waterway Tip’ I posted on my YouTube Channel, talking about what to look for;

Up And Away

Nearing the west part of Rice Lake brings us to the entrance for the Otonabee River, which winds it’s way northward. Although there are few marked speed restriction zones along here, one should respect the property owners on both sides of this waterway and watch their wake! Even though you may get the urge to run it quick, I’d highly recommend taking it slow to take in the natural surroundings.

Cruising onm the Otonabee River

Taking it easy on the Otonabee River.

Farther along, the city of Peterborough welcomes boaters with a giant, in water fountain at the approach to the municipally run marina.  If you are after some live entertainment, the adjacent Del Crary Park hosts free concerts in the band shell every Wednesday and Saturday night through July and August. Grab a lawn chair and enjoy the free shows in the park, or listen to the music right from your boat :-)

I have some video of our entrance into Peterborough Marina. sorry it was a cloudy afternoon when we made this visit, but at least you see what it looks like;


This city of 80,000 can provide everything you may need and is home to the highest hydraulic lift lock in North America. The century old structure effortlessly and quietly raises and lowers boats 65 feet. A real thrill for first time users!

You can get a better sense of how the Peterborough Lift Lock works by watching this video I recently captured there;

Trent University, with its campuses straddling both shores of the Trent River, a free local zoo, miles of walking trails and downtown located only a short stroll from the marina make Peterborough a popular destination.

Next Up?

In the next installment, we will explore the communities and lakes in heart of the Kawarthas, known as the ‘Land of Shining Waters’.

Have look at the introduction to our ‘Cruising The Trent Severn Waterway’ video production. This 76 minute long feature is now available both as a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, or a convenient digital download. Feel free to visit our site at TheWaterway.ca for more information on the video, as well as the entire Trent Severn Waterway.

Please remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for daily posts, photos and videos, as well as hundreds of original videos on my YouTube Channel. We look forward to seeing you there!

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