Rockwood is a small village about 15 to 20 minutes east of Guelph, Ontario on Highway 7.
Rockwood Conservation Area is part of the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA), since the Eramosa River joins with the Speed River, which then joins the Grand River in Cambridge, Ontario.
This conservation area is among the most scenic of the GRCA ones. One can argue that Elora Gorge is as scenic as Rockwood, but it is a matter of taste anyway.
The picnic areas at Rockwood are often too crowded at weekends, and you have to descend a steep hill to get to the sandy beach. This is tiring when you have to bring large or heavy objects, such as a stroller, BBQ, gas tank, ice box, ...etc.
The beach is on a small lake and on the other side there are forests, and a large cliff. Rockwood's charm though is not in these areas. To really appreciate the beauty of the place, you have to take a canoe or go on the trails.
The area to be explored has lots of cliffs bordering the water, lots of small islands on rocky outcrops, some small caves, and everything is bordered by everygreen or mixed forests. There are lots of bays and straits to explore, but many of them have stagnant water, or are very shallow, and you can get stuck there.
Close to the waterfall at the end of the trip, there are some old mill ruins, and some picnic tables. There are bridges over the river as well.
If you are lucky, you can even see a beaver.
You can see a few photos of the scenery at Rockwood.
As I said above, canoeing is the best way to explore the scenery of Rockwood. You can bring your own canoe to Rockwood, or rent one there. Rental is 10$Cdn an hour. Single person kayaks can be rented too.
An hour is enough for you to explore the lake but not leaving the canoe. If you want to stop and explore the islands, or do some fishing, then rent it for 2 hours or more.
The area is ideal for beginners, and small kids, since there is no current, whitewater, ...etc. But you have to be careful nonetheless, because that very fact: there are lots of beginners around and they can collide in you. A group with us in another canoe were rammed in such an incident, and were close to toppeling in the water. Also, watch for tree stumps, submerged branches, jutting rocks, and shallow areas .
You can see a few photos of us canoeing at Rockwood.
A trail from the mill ruins takes you to glacial potholes. This area used to be coral reefs in a warm sea eons ago. Then when the ice age arrived, the massive Wisconsin glacier covered the area with one kilometer deep ice. As the glaciers pushed stone, then receded, these potholes were created.
The potholes are uniformly round, as if carved on purpose with great precision. Many of them are filled with stagnant water.
You can see some photos of glacial potholes at Rockwood.
- Rockwood Conservation Area on GRCA
- Conservation page at Rockwood Heaven
- Digital Ortho photo of the Rockwood Area
- Professor Alan Morgan of the University of Waterloo wrote an article on Glacial Potholes at Rockwood. The Earth Sciences web site was reorganized lately, and therefore the photos and diagrams are not linked correctly. You can view the photos here though.