This loop is fairly short but includes some steep sections. However, don't let that deter you. The mica mines in this area are unique, and if you look for it, you'll find shards of mica throughout the trail. The trail is shaded and near the waterfront, so it's nice to do even on a hot summer day, and there's a great lookout point over Gould Lake halfway through the trail.
Start from the main parking lot at Gould Lake Conservation area. Head just north of the swimming area to the start of the trail; the start of the trail is not well marked. However, just follow the western shoreline northwards and you'll find it.
The first section of the trail follows the western shoreline of Gould Lake, through boreal forest. You'll be hiking pretty close to the water, at first, and there are opportunities for a swim. Then the trail connects to the Rideau Trail, which you'll follow briefly, over a bridge, until you get to Frog Junction, at which point, take a right and you'll be on the Mine Loop
This hike can be completed in either direction, but the most difficult section of the hike is right in front of you, and it can be nice to get the tough part out of the way first! The next section is mostly shaded and while it follows the shore, it doesn't always provide nice views of the lake as the forest can be dense.
There are several mica mines in the area, giving this trail its name. Mica is a shiny silicate mineral found in crystals or in sheets of thin, almost transparent layers. Mica is mined for a variety of uses including thermal glass for lanterns, electrical insulators and more recently for cosmetics. Originally, it was used as glass windows in wood stoves by the settlers.
At around the halfway point, you'll come across and optional side trail marked as Point Spur
. This short side trail is only 300m long and it takes you to a nice viewpoint overlooking Gould Lake.
Then head back to the trail and continue counterclockwise. The western segment of Mine Loop
is in the interior forest but is less difficult. Enjoy the forest on your way back. Then finally, reconnect with the Rideau Trail and return to where you parked. Optionally, enjoy the lake and have a quick swim!
The wetlands, woods and shoreline areas provide many opportunities for wildlife viewing and nature appreciation.
Eastern Ontario was once one of the mica mining capitals of the world and, between 1870 and 1910, Gould Lake played a major role as a centre for mining.