Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Leitrim Wetland Boardwalk

Leitrim Wetland Boardwalk

Length: 500 metres (one way)
Time: 10-15 minutes
Terrain: Easy

Located in the South Ottawa suburb of Findley Creek is the new Leitrim Wetland Boardwalk. Part of the South Nation Watershed, this provincially significant wetland is home to many unique plants and animals. The trailhead is located off Findley Creek Drive near the intersection of White Alder Avenue (N45 18.835 - W075 36.502). Though unmarked, it is not hard to find as it is visible from the street.

The boardwalk is great for every member of the family, including the pooch. Along the trail, you'll be introduced to white pines, cedar swamps, tamarack and spongy marsh land. The boardwalk ends at a small platform overlooking the regionally distinct calcareous fen.

Make sure you keep your eyes open for wildlife. Creatures that call the wetland home include Deer, Moose, Snapping Turtles and the Great Blue Heron. For more information on the Leitrim Wetland you can visit the South Nation Conservation website (click here) or you can check out the information plaque located about 500 metres to the east along Findley Creek Drive.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Gatineau Park - Huron Trail

Gatineau Park - Huron Trail

Length: 4.9 km (one way)
Time: 1-2 hours
Terrain: Moderate

The boots are knotted, the pack is full and the dog is excited... Today's hike is the Huron Trail located in Gatineau Park. Parking can be found at the Lac Fortune Lookoff (N45 30.707 - W075 52.099) which is just east of the trail head. The beginning is easy found as it is marked with a signpost (N45 30.727 - W075 52.269).

Trail Head
This 4.9 km hike is marked for its entire length as trail 3 and ends with a fantastic view of the Ottawa Valley. The first leg consists of a steady climb for approximately half a kilometre. After that, the route levels out and is quite easy with only a few more ups and downs. The trail is for the most part is crushed gravel but also includes grass and mud. In the spring it's advised you wear Gore-Tex boots.

For this hike, I recommend you bring at least two litres of water, a camera, a good trekking pole and a bear bell. You're walking into the back country, it's always a good idea to be prepared for anything.

As you progress in the hike you'll pass a number of beaver ponds and even get a nice close-up of a dam. For those photographers, there are a lot of opportunities for scenery shots. This is also one of the trails that does not allow mountain bikers so there is no need to be constantly looking over your shoulder.

As you near the end of the hike you'll intersect with Trail 1, Ridge Road. Continue straight through for another 300 metres to the end of the trail and the Étienne Brûlé Lookout where you can enjoy a nice picnic with a great view.

Étienne Brûlé Lookout
If you planned ahead and parked a second car at the Lookout then you're quickly on your way. If you have to hike back you have two options, returning back on the Huron Trail or heading south on Trail 1 which is an shorter and easier route back to the Lac Fortune lot.

Huron Trail may be one of Gatineau Park's less traveled trails it is all worth it in the end.

Huron Trail Map

Huron Trail Elevation Profile

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Foley Mountain Conservation Area

Foley Mountain Conservation Area

Length: 9 km trail system
Time: 3-4 hours
Terrain: Easy-Moderate

Located on the north shore of Upper Rideau Lake is Foley Mountain Conservation Area. With over nine kilometers of hiking trails and scenic views, the park has something for everyone. The entrance to Foley Mountain is off Country Road 10 just north of the Village of Westport and there is a $6.00 entry fee (per vehicle) which is payable by cash or credit.

A must see is the Spy Rock Lookout which is located near the first parking area (N 44 41.068 W 076 23.527). From the clifftop you get a full 180° view of the lake and Westport.

Spy Rock Lookout

This parking area is also a great spot to start your hike as you have access to three different trails. To the north you can take the 1.3 km (loop) Beaver Trail which follows the shoreline of an old Beaver Pond. To the east is the 3 km Blue Circle Trail which takes you though wetlands and hardwood forests.

Beaver Pond

To the south is the 1.8 km White Pine Trail which takes you along the ridge line above Upper Rideau Lake towards the Interpretive Centre. This section is also part of Rideau Trail system which runs from Ottawa to Kingston. For the most part, this trail is quite easy and mostly downhill. There are a few soggy spots and in the Spring there could be streams crossing the trail.

White Pine Trail in the Spring
If you're at the point where you need a break why not stop by the Interpretive Centre and learn about the park. Also located here is a second parking are (closed in the off season), washrooms and the wheelchair friendly, Mobility Trail. This short walk has views of the lake as well as information panels on how the region was formed.

Mobility Trail
Each trail is marked with their own unique identifier and maps can be found near both parking lots or with the scan of a smartphone (look for the QR code). Whether you're looking for a easy walk or a tough hike, Foley Mountain will not disappoint.