As far as natural playgrounds go, we’ve got one of the best! Irvineside Farm is located in a truly unique place in Elora – just minutes to Fergus, and not far from Belwood Lake. The little creek that runs through our property gathers flow not far from here and feeds into the Grand River in the heart of the Elora Gorge. And you won’t see limestone cliffs like those of the Elora Gorge or the cliffs that have been carved by the Grand River through Fergus. All of it offers adventure.
Daredevils and adventure seekers love the white-water splash of the rapids twisting through the Elora Gorge and, for reasons we’ve never been able to comprehend, they like to ride this fast moving water on inflatable inner tubes. What we do know is that everyone who has ever experienced tubing in the Elora Gorge has had a blast doing so! If you have a bucket list, tubing through the limestone cliffs that will echo your laughter and screams in the heart of the incredible beauty of the Elora Gorge is a must-do, (for you – our bucket list is lame). From mid-June until Labour Day, weather and water levels permitting, this is one for the books!
There are two ways to rent equipment and launch yourself into the rapids:
The Elora Rapids Inc. offers fun inner tubes, but it uses the Elora Gorge Conservation area too, so basically, you just have decide what tube you’d prefer, your fees and how you’d like to experience the day. Either way … it’s a good time!
There are a few ways to enjoy Elora from the waters of the Grand River and Elora Raft Rides has a few fun options, from RiverBugs and White Water Rafting, to the more laid-back, (dare we say romantic?) Punt Boats.
Fun fact: Irvineside Farm is owned by a former adventure company, CK Maggs Adventures. Those kayak-crazy kids have retired now so they can do more of what they love , more of what all retired folks do – extreme sports! So if you plan to paddle anywhere near Elora, Fergus or surrounding areas … we have an inside-take on the BEST places to hit the rapids. We might even encourage them to join you!
If you love to paddle, or even if you’re just eager to try, the Elora Paddle Company offers canoe and kayak rentals right in the heart of downtown Elora. You can paddle around the historic limestone cliffs and the shoreline behind the shops of Mill Street, enjoying the view from Bissell Park all the way to the Jack R. MacDonald pedestrian bridge, with great views of the Elora Mill Hotel and Spa, best appreciated from the waters of the Grand River.
Cycling is one of the fastest growing sports in our area and that’s because Elora is central (or the heart, as we like to say) to some of the best groomed trails, backroads and landscape for people who like appreciate peddle-power and the picturesque views that surround them.
From the Elora Cataract Trailway, that will take you all the way to Belwood Lake, through to the Town of Erin, before connecting you on to the Credit Valley Conservation trails to the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, or to the west of us, heading to the Kissing Bridge Trail, part of the Trans Canada Trail that leads into the Region of Waterloo and south to Guelph, (side note: Kissing on the Kissing Bridge should not be attempted while cycling).
Elora is part of the Township of Centre Wellington, within the County of Wellington, which means we are fortunate to be surrounded by prime farmland and natural landscapes beyond our little village, and there’s no better way to see it than through our trails.
Wellington County has beautiful trails too and they connect to picturesque views between Elora and Fergus beginning at the Wellington County Museum and Archives in Aboyne, or the Cottontail Road Trail, also part of the Trans Canada Trail, which connects the Elora Cataract Trail from the site adjacent to the Elora Gorge Conservation Authority to a trail that leads all the way to Halton Region.
As mentioned above, Irvineside Farm was founded by CK Maggs Adventures, and when they cannot kayak, they cycle. Everywhere. All year long. In other words, if you need inspiration, directions or a sense of the best routes travelled, we know who to ask.
If your idea of adventure is stretching out on the beach by an emerald green pool of water, interrupted frequently by a swim in the depths of that emerald water, then pack your gear and some sunscreen and head to the Elora Quarry. It’s literally 5 minutes away from Irvineside Farm. In fact, it’s at the end of our road! Two turns and you’re there.
Be sure to book your time ahead and prepare for a beautiful day in a really unique spot.
Fun fact: The Elora Quarry has been the host of some epic concerts, with musicians on a floating barge, but it is best known for many movie sets, including most recently Adam Sandler filmed You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah? in summer 2022. But if you are a fan of the horror genre, and author Stephen King’s novel “It,” and actually summoned up the courage to watch the 2017 film– you are going to find yourself in familiar territory of where the kids of that movie hung out in both the first and second film, “It Chapter Two,” Be advised, Pennywise is not at the Elora Quarry. We promise. But if you see a red balloon on a sewer grate, please note we do not have public sewers at Irvineside Farm, so get back here.
We have our own version of Cottage Country – without the traffic jams and long drives: Belwood Lake. You can launch a boat, push off in a canoe or kayak, cast your fishing line or picnic on the shore. Belwood Lake is approximately 20kms from Irvineside Farm, just a short drive. There are cottages and camps along the lake and a sweet little town too, home to the Belwood Country Market and the BEST butter tarts in Ontario, (or so we believe … and so does everyone who has ever tasted them!)
And if the crowds of The Elora Quarry are too much for you, the Belwood Quarry is an excellent alternative. Sandy beaches and deep water, with a roped off swimming area for the little swimmers, it’s Cottage County, on a charming smaller-scale.
There is something mesmerizing about watching the fly-fishermen practice their craft in the waters of the Grand River, and there is good reason they love Belwood, Fergus and Elora; the brown trout love it here too. So do the pike, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, walleye, catfish, and carp. From the mouth of Belwood Lake, the Grand River flows through some sweet spots in Elora, Fergus, Inverhaugh and beyond. We have some of the best fly fishing in the province and plenty of locals around who know where to go. Here are some great resources for you, if you want to get the fish on!
If you prefer the thrill of an adrenaline-inducing spectator sport, the Grand River Raceway offers live Standardbred harness-racing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. There several dining options too, so you can catch dinner and a race!
It is also home to the Elements Casino Grand River – and we bet if you like casinos, you’ll appreciate this one.