Wolfe Island is the largest of the 1000 Islands, famous for wind turbines – but also beautiful pastoral scenery, a laidback charm, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, and dark skies. Its roughly 29 km long and anywhere from 9 km to a few hundred metres wide. With a land area of 124 square kilometres, you’ll find that there is a surprising amount of biking on Wolfe Island to do.
Where is Wolfe Island?
Wolfe Island is located where Lake Ontario ends and the St. Lawrence River begins. The closest big city is Kingston, just a short ferry ride away.
How do you get to Wolfe Island?
It’s easy to get to Wolfe Island via the free, year-round Wolfe Islander III ferry. From the Kingston waterfront it takes only 20 minutes one way. There are upgrades in progress so for three years the ferry will come in at Dawson Point Dock – and in the summer there will be a free shuttle between the dock and the village.
Alternatively you can take Horne’s Ferryfrom Cape Vincent to Wolfe Island – but it only runs from May to October. There’s a small customs office at Alexandria Point making it one of the easier points of entry into Canada.
Laid back charm on Wolfe Island
The last time I set foot on Wolfe Island I was a Queen’s University student in the 1970’s. When I finally visited, several decades later, the plan was to go biking on Wolfe Island and see what if anything had changed.
The island still retains it’s laid back charm. There are lots of farmers, a few small businesses, several artists, a golden retriever breeder, welders, boatbuilders…
There aren’t a lot of services. Have a craving for a butter tart? Visit The Wolfe Island Bakery, in business since 1980. It’s well situated across from the ferry lineup.
For meals look to a small restaurant at The Hotel Wolfe Island – formerly the General Wolfe Inn.
Where to stay on Wolfe Island and in Kingston
There are a few places to stay on the island – primarily B&B’s. The Wolfe Manor B&Bwould be a great choice. It’s housed in an impressive building that is worth a visit.
The shorter, 18 km route started well with lovely water views and very peaceful biking. In fact, all I could hear were the birds, especially since the migration was on. There were lots of birds I’d never seen before, but I forgot my binoculars.
About halfway into the first loop you hit gravel road. It was fine initially but when I was there construction was happening and the dust was unreal.
Link up with Route #3 – Button Bay
You can link up with the 28 km route without going all the back to Marysville. Do take the side excursion to Big Sandy Bay. This is a good place for a picnic. Enjoy protected dunes and a sandy beach.
After leaving the beach you hit pavement again on the main road (#95) linking the two ferries. Continue on this road until you reach the ferry to New York State. It’s pretty countryside through here. Then either retrace your steps to stay on pavement or meander back to Marysville on any number of dirt side roads.
Biking Wolfe Island on the two routes described was lovely – mostly peaceful, easy cycling.
The 58 km biking route was a disappointment when I was there because of construction and massive dump trucks. But that’s some time ago now so if you’re up for a longer ride that meanders through rural landscapes then give it a go.
Wind farms on the island
I guess progress means wind farms and that’s exactly what Wolfe Island has become – one giant wind farm.
Someone on the ferry loved their look – very futuristic she thought whereas I see them as a blight on the landscape. I’m sure their construction caused considerable debate. On the bright side they do warn you ahead of time if it’s too windy to cycle.
Here’s a quote from an article by Richard Blackwell – A shockingly high fatality rate at Wolfe Island wind farm distresses Nature Canada conservationists. Between July and December 2009, 602 birds and 1,270 bats were killed by the turbines.
I hope they have found away to curtail bird and bat deaths.
Is it worth the effort to go biking on Wolfe Island?
Yes, if you’re in the Kingston area and staying for a few days. It’s a great side trip for all those Queen’s parents with time on their hands. And biking Wolfe Island isn’t a mainstream activity so if you’re after something different, I highly recommend spending a day exploring the island on two wheels.