Nature Trails

There are more than eight kilometres of self-guided hiking trails and close to 150 different bird species to watch for. Use the links below to learn more about each trail.

Overall, the trails are flat and not overly challenging. The maple trail has some gentle slopes but no hills. On all trails, one will encounter uneven terrain such as tree roots and rocks as the trails are not surfaced with any material.

Note: While walking the trails, please take care not to pick the flowers or disturb the wildlife.

"Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints."

White Birch

White, paper-like bark peels easily. Birch sap can be processed like maple sap to make a molasses-like syrup.


Note the smooth bark marked with vertical lines. Many Indian tribes mixed the berries with dried meat and fat to make pemmican.

Rotting Log

This is home to decomposers - organisms (such as mushrooms and fungi and many insects) that break down and return dead tissues to the environment.

Sugar Shanty

This trail leads to the remains of an old sugar cabin. Some maple syrup facts: it takes 30 to 40 litres of sap to produce one litre of syrup; it takes 30 to 70 years for a tree to reach a tapable size of 25 cm in diameter; and sap flows when there are frosty nights of -3°C or lower and warm, sunny days of + 2°C or higher .


Ironwood can be identified by its bark which breaks into narrow, vertical strips that are easily rubbed off. Usually a small tree, there is an exception near the end of the Red-wing Trail on the left hand side. Try to spot it! NOTE: You must go back to post #4 in order to continue on the Cedar Trail.

Owl Pellets

Owls have been observed in these big pines. Look under the trees for signs of a successful hunt --- pellets. Owl pellets are sausage- shaped clumps of the indigestible parts (fir, feathers, bones, beaks, claws, tails, etc.) that the owl "coughs up".

Snow (or White) Trillium / Eastern Hemlock

Ontario's floral emblem, the Snow (or White) Trillium, must grow for at least six years before it flowers and blooms in the spring. The needle-like leaves of the Hemlock tree were used by Aboriginal peoples and early white settlers to make a tea rich in vitamin C. Aboriginal peoples also used the leaves as a spice for bear and porcupine meat.


Note the large, heart-shaped leaves. The soft, light wood is valued by hand-carvers. The inner bark and the roots are tough and fibrous and can be twisted into cords, mats and lines.

Turtle Nests

Early June finds snapping turtles laying their approximately 20 to 30 eggs in holes they dig along the bike path. It also finds raccoons and skunks digging up the nests and devouring the eggs!

Poison Ivy

A vine or shrub with glossy green (summer) or bright red (fall) leaflets in threes. Contact with any part of the plant may result in a severe rash.

Queen Anne's Lace (white) / Chicory (blue)

From fall to early spring the roots are edible. Queen Anne's Lace can be cooked like garden carrots and Chicory can be roasted and ground to make coffee.

Fence / Culvert

This fenced area around the bike path culvert is in place to prevent beaver from blocking the culvert. Beaver can cause significant damage to surrounding habitats as the water level will rise and flood the area.

Royal Fern

A large, wetland fern with spore cases in dense clusters at the top of fertile fronds (stalks).

Wetlands Are Important

Wetlands improve water quality, provide habitat for many plants and animals and help reduce flooding. Wetlands are also a vital source of oxygen and a great place for activities like bird watching and hiking.

For further information, contact the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary at 613-537-2024.

Note: While walking the trails, please take care not to pick the flowers or disturb the wildlife.

"Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints."


This shrub can be recognized by its small, dark green, oval-shaped leaves which are deeply veined. Thorny branch tips replace the terminal buds. Ingesting the blackberries clustered along the twigs will result in severe diarrhea.

Bur Oak

The widest ranging oak tree. Acorns can be boiled, roasted and eaten as nuts or sweetened and eaten as candy.

Trembling Aspen

The beaver's first choice at the tree buffet! Note the smooth, greenish-grey bark and, on a windy day, the "noisy" leaves.

Sugar Maple

Sugar Maple, a tree of upland habitats, is the principle maple tree tapped to produce maple products. The leaves are usually five-lobed and the leaf margins (edges) lack teeth.

Woodpecker Holes

(Can you spot them?) The Pileated Woodpecker drills large, rectangular or oval holes and extracts insects with its barbed tongue. These cavities in turn provide shelter and nesting habitat for other species.

Black Cherry

Note the dark, scaly bark with horizontal dash-like markings (lenticels). The wood is valuable for furniture.

Yellow Birch

The yellowish or bronze bark forms thin papery shreds. A broken twig has a strong wintergreen taste.

Eastern Hemlock

Usually a tree of upland habitats. The flat needles are dark green above, whitish below and have short stems.

Northern Maidenhair

Maidenhair ferns are most adapted to life in dry places. The stalks are black, fine and shiny ---a maiden's hair. Spores develop on the back of the leaflets.

Blue Beech

(Look ahead on the right) A small tree with very hard wood that settlers would use to make wedges for splitting other logs. The smooth, slate-grey bark resembles tensed muscles.

Christmas Fern

An upland fern with leathery, evergreen fronds. Smaller spore-bearing leaflets are near the tip of the fertile fronds (stalks).

American Beech

Note how the trunk, with its pale grey bark, resembles a cement pole or an elephant's leg! Early settlers often used dried Beech leaves as filling material for mattresses.

Climax Forest

A forest that has reached the final stage of succession. It will no longer undergo natural changes as trees that die will be replaced by others of the same species.

For further information, contact the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary at 613-537-2024.

NOTE: While walking the trails, please take care not to pick the flowers or disturb the wildlife.

"Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints."

Dotted Hawthorn

One of over 100 species of Hawthorn found in North America, this member of the Rose family has many stout thorns and tangy, edible fruit.

Animal Run

The route regularly taken by an animal as it travels between resting areas and feeding areas.


A member of the Honeysuckle family, Nannyberry has long, slender beige buds; opposite leaf arrangement; clusters of small, creamy white flowers and edible, bluish-black berries.

Canada Goose Cones

Canada Geese prefer to build nests on small islands or marsh banks. If they cannot find a suitable site, geese will use artificial nests.


One need never starve where cattails grow! At different times during the year, all parts of the plant (except the leaves) are edible.


Recognized by compound leaves that are opposite in arrangement. A wetland is called a swamp when trees or shrubs are the dominant vegetation type.

White Cedar

The inner bark of the Eastern White Cedar or Aborvitae, the tree of life, was used by Jacques Cartier to treat scurvy among his crew.

Speckled Alder Thicket

Usually found along a wetland edge. Speckled Alder shrubs add fertility to the soil by transforming gaseous nitrogen into compounds useful to plants.

Wild Rice

The plant filling the marsh by mid-summer is wild rice. The ripening grain may be collected, thoroughly dried, washed in cold water and prepared like brown rice or ground into flour. (Warning: ERGOT, poisonous pink or purplish fungi, can replace some of the seeds.)

White Spruce

The roots of the White Spruce are so pliable that Native Americans would use them for placing the birch bark on canoes.

White Pine

Ontario's arboreal emblem. The White Pine is the only pine in Eastern Canada with five needles in a bundle.


The only evergreen that is not evergreen! In autumn the Tamarack's needles turn yellow and are shed from the tree.

Grey Birch

Grey Birch bark does not peel easily and has black patches. The leaves are triangular in shape with long, drawn-out tips.


This tall grass-like plant can form dense and enormous stands in ponds, marshes and ditches. The plants spread by means of rootstocks that may be 30 feet long. Edible uses include crushing and washing the rootstocks to obtain flour.


(Look to the right and ahead on the left.) Our most common fern as it grows in large colonies almost anywhere. Bracken is a tall, strong and coarse fern with leaves divided into three nearly equal parts. Fiddleheads can be eaten raw or cooked. (Warning: Cooking recommended. Raw plant contains an enzyme which, when ingested in sufficient quantities, destroys vitamin B1 [thiamine].)

Take Cover

This thick jumble of understorey plants offers ideal habitat and protection for many woodland creatures. Chipmunks, squirrels, shrews and rabbits find shelter here. Ground feeding birds such as Robins, Catbirds, Brown Thrashers and Winter Wrens scratch around here for insects and seeds.

For further information, contact the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary at 613-537-2024.