Enjoy your visit, and please consider supporting our trails and their upkeep through a donation to the ELEEC.

Using Our Trails

When you are visiting the ELEEC, please respect that you are on property being managed for conservation purposes. There is no fee to access the public trails at the Elbow Lake nature reserve. Please park at the outer gate and walk in. Access to the facilities including the buildings, developed waterfront (sand beach, docks), and canoes is limited to outreach programming guests and facility rental user groups.

We welcome public visitors to explore our 8 km of pedestrian trails, at your own risk, but we ask that you follow some basic rules:

  • Park at the outer gate and walk in. No recreational motorized vehicles are permitted.
  • Do not intentionally disturb or remove any plants or animals. Elbow Lake is a nature reserve.
  • Pets must be leashed at all times. Owners are also responsible for all waste clean-up.
  • No Fishing. Only permitted during sanctioned catch & release events.
  • Stay on marked trails. Going off trail can damage habitat.
  • Pack-in / Pack-out. Take all garbage and pet waste.
  • No outside watercraft or aquatic equipment. These could introduce harmful aquatic invasive species.
  • Swim at your own risk. No public access to the sand beach or docks.
  • No camping or fires. Only permitted in designated spaces as part of a facility rental.

Interested in bringing a group on the trails for an interpretive hike or snowshoe? Click the link below for information on staff-led programming.

Elbow Lake Trail Map


If you notice any damage, evidence of poaching or impending risk to the lands, please let us know.

Enjoy your visit, and please consider supporting the Queen’s University Biological Station and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Trail Descriptions

Each trail is indicated with coloured markers for that trail. A digital map can be accessed on our Trail Guide App.

There are four main trails at the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre:

Trails Elbow Lake

Trail #1: RED TRAIL

A moderately rugged 2.4 km loop through a variety of habitats, including a boardwalk over a beaver pond. Includes 220 meters of accessible trail with interpretive signage.

Elbow Lake trail

Trail #2: BLUE TRAIL

A remote, rugged 2.0 km trail encircling a rich wetland.
Elbow Lake property


A rugged 0.6 km (one-way) spur trail to Spectacle Lake. Note that three un-bridged beaver dam crossings may make access difficult.
Elbow Lake Property


A gentle 1.4 km loop through deciduous and mixed forest, providing views of adjacent wetland habitat.

Black-Legged Tick Alert!

The biodiversity of the Elbow Lake property includes the black-legged tick. These tiny arthropods – related to spiders and mites – can carry Lyme disease. Follow precautions recommended by our local health unit[PDF] and check yourself thoroughly or ticks after visiting our trails.