The beauty and variety of its scenery is one of the Waterway's greatest assets. Travelling northwards from the Bay of Quinte, up through the valley of the Trent River, boaters pass by lush farmland, marshes rich with wildlife and waterfalls in rocky gorges. Rice Lake, with its distinctive tear-drop islands (drumlins), marks the start of the Kawartha Lakes. The shorelines blaze with colour in the fall.

The Trent and Severn drainage systems are linked at Kirkfield. Here, the canal was carved through the solid limestone of the Carden Plain to give access to lakes Simcoe and Couchiching. The northwesterly route of the Waterway continues down the Severn River to Georgian Bay.

Its turbulent waters are now calmed by massive dams, but the granite of the Canadian Shield is a constant reminder of the obstacles which the builders of the Waterway had to overcome.