Rideau Trail – Marlborough Forest – Cedar Grove Walking Trail
Today the weather looked very promising so we planned a little outing to part of the Rideau Trail that passe through the Marlborough Forest. The Rideau Trail itself runs from Ottawa to the Kingston area through a variety of landscapes with some areas being flat and boggy, other areas being mixed farmland and other areas catching part of the granite outcroppings of the lower edges of the Canadian Shield. The small part that we were visiting today was of the boggy cedar grove nature.
The Rideau Trail Association website provides access to excellent topographical maps of the Rideau Trail network. In addition, at locations such as the City of Ottawa maintained parking lot for access to the trail from Roger Stevens Drive there are maps such as the one below which indicate the various forestry roadways in the area.
We accessed the trail from parking lot P2 on Roger Stevens Drive. I had not been to this area before and wasn’t sure what to expect. The initial section from the parking lot was a rather disappointingly wide roadway of crushed stone that the City planners seem to be rather fond of these days (it is cropping up on various other trails maintained by the City). This developed ‘roadway’ doesn’t go all that far thankfully and apparently provides access to an emergency access staging area near the pond which we would be visiting.
The weather was beautiful for this time of the year with blue skies overhead, a temperature of about +10C. There was a fairly strong breeze blowing but we were not out in the open so the wind had no adverse effect on our enjoyment of the trail. A Turkey Vulture circled overhead when we arrived at the parking lot and a group of Wood Ducks flew off as soon as I tried to get their picture.
There was still a small amount of ice underfoot in some sheltered locations but the unseasonably warm weather in March and lack of any substantial rainfall in the interim had resulted in pretty dry walking trails with only a few lingering wet spots to circumvent.
When we reached the ” Emergency staging area” at the end of the graveled roadway there were tow marked options, one marked with an orange triangle and the other with a blue triangle. The colored triangles are the method used by members of the Rideau Trail Association to mark the main trail and the subsidiary trails that they maintain. The orange triangles mark the main Rideau Trail and blue markers indicate side trails. To help with direction, the markers heading south from Ottawa are orange with a yellow tip while the ones indicating the opposite direction are just orange.
Our plan for the day in this area was to do the 2 km loop around the pond which was a combination of orange trail and blue trail so we started off from the staging area by following the orange marker which soon led us to an open area where a Ducks Unlimited control dam hads formed a sizable pond.
The control structure itself is crossed by a small grated walkway. Some dogs might not be happy with walking over the open grate of the walkway so it might be necessary to carry your fearless beast the short distance over the control structure :-). Looking down into the water form the walkway it is possible to see an earlier control structure now submerged in the deeper water.
Once across the control structure, the hiker travels along a berms for a short distance beside the pond and then enters back into the wooded area to follow a more normal-style hiking trail.
The hiking trail is closed for vehicular traffic, but there are areas of the trail where it is obvious that the trail has been used by motorized vehicles either for trail maintenance purposes or by those who don’t read signs too well.
Eventually, the red trail continues on toward Kingston and we branched off on to the blue trail to make the loop back along the east side of the pond and back to our car in the parking lot. At the head of the pond, there is a bridge over a small stream of water as well as some boardwalks to get hikers past some lower areas that would be quite wet in a normal Spring.
The blue trail does not follow as closely along the shoreline as the red trail on the opposite shore so it is a bit more difficult to see the water through the trees and undergrowth.
There is a lean-to part way around the pond and some trees have been cleared to give a view of the pond from the shoreline. As I was photographing the pond from this location, some Mallards lifted out of the reeds and a Great Blue Heron flew overhead in the distance.
A Pileated Woodpecker flew out of the woods in front of us and, at other locations, there were a few Chickadees and a few Robins, but generally there was nothing too exciting to photograph until we came upon a couple of Garter Snakes sunning themselves on the path. Of course, I had to lie down on the path to see eye-to-eye with the most cooperative of the two.
A few other things caught my attention as I walked along the trail but soon the parking lot was there and we were heading off to look at another location.
Equipment: Nikon D300 with an older model Nikkor 28-105mm with macro. This lens is the same one that I carried with me when I hiked the Offas’s Dyke path since it provides a reasonable zoom range, is relatively light weight and provides a decent macro capability down to about 1:2 magnification. I purchased the lens as a used lens and have been very happy with its performance as my hiking lens. Used Nikkor lenses on EBay.