Hike #33: Oivi’s Nature Trail

Distance hiked: 4.8km
Location: Menzel Centennial Provincial Nature Reserve, Ontario
Date: July 19, 2020

We spent the weekend up north at the cabin in an attempt to beat the heat. On the drive back to Toronto, we decided to stop at the Menzel Centennial Provincial Nature Reserve to knock another hike off our list.

The Menzel Centennial Provincial Nature Reserve is located just north of Prince Edward County and protects a rare fen, one of the largest wetlands of this type in southeastern Ontario. The wetlands encompass extensive fens and coniferous swamp forests and altogether occupy a large basin some 7-8km long by 2-3km wide. The provincial park was named after D. Menzel who was instrumental in protecting these wetlands.

There is a single trail that runs through Menzel Centennial, the Oivi Nature Trail (4.8km round trip, rated easy), which was named after Menzel’s wife, Oivi. Near the trailhead is a plaque of Oivi to commemorate her memory and love of nature.

The trail leads to Mud Lake and features eight posts to highlight the many habitats in the provincial nature reserve along the way, including an open field, forest, wetlands, and a fen.

The path is relatively flat. The first stretch winds through an open field. It wasn’t the most ideal weather for hiking as it was hot and humid outside (31°C, felt like 42°C with the humidity). But the one advantage to the heat was that it kept the bugs at bay, which was great considering the description of the trail included a warning that, depending on the season, the trail may be flooded and biting insects may be abundant.

The path first leads through a forest along the edge of the wetland before crossing a large stretch of boardwalk through the wetland.

The path then meanders through the central upland area surrounded by wetland, an open field, and an area rich in sand and gravel before crossing another boardwalk through a fen.

A fen is a type of wetland. It is similar to a bog, except they are less acidic and draw on groundwater. They are found mostly in large shallow depressions in the landscape and typically contain marsh grasses, sedges and have brown mosses.

From there it’s a few hundred metres to Mud Lake, a shallow lake surrounded by a variety of different natural habitats. At the end of the trail there’s a picnic table and a small entrance into the lake.

When we reached the lake, we turned around and walked back the way we came. A severe thunderstorm warning was on the forecast and we were eager to wrap up our hike well before it hit.


My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here

28 thoughts on “Hike #33: Oivi’s Nature Trail

  1. kagould17 says:

    Yes, you would want either heat or a breeze before braving a walk through the wetlands….bug heaven. Was their any birdlife in the area at the time of your hike? I always find it strange to be walking through nature and hear the birds but never see any. Stay well. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m not sure which is worse: the heat or the bugs. But luckily we only had to suffer through one of those. Now that it’s the fall and the bugs are all gone, I’m trying to visit more of Ontario’s wetland areas. I’m just so fascinated by marshes and fens, there’s so much to see. I don’t remember seeing any birds along our hike. Maybe they were over the heat too. But back in the beginning of September we were paddling through a marshy area in Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park and spotted a Great Blue Heron, which was pretty exciting.

  2. ourcrossings says:

    I never knew that the weather temperatures would reach +30’C during the summer in your part of the world. That’s why October must be a great time to go hiking around Ontario because colourful leaves ( if there’s any now) make the trails 100x beautiful 😀🍁 I look forward to hearing about your autumn hikes. Have a good day and thanks for sharing 😀 Aiva

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This summer was a hot one here in Ontario. We had more 30C days in June than all of last summer combined. And apparently this July was the hottest July in Toronto since Environment Canada began collecting data 84 years ago. And agreed, hiking is so much better in the fall as the weather is cooler and the leaves are changing colour. Hoping to do some fall hiking this weekend. Take care.

  3. Ab says:

    I always enjoy learning about new places from you. How do you discover these places? Randomly?

    I will say that wetlands/swampy hikes are not really my cup of tea but I admire your interest in seeking out new and diverse adventures!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh good. And I enjoy learning about new places in Ontario from you too! I’ve been using a map of Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation areas to find places that are close to Toronto or an area that I plan on travelling to. I’ve had a lot more free time these days because of the pandemic to spend time researching which parks or conservation areas I might like that have good hiking trails. I then keep a running list of places I want to visit. It seems to keep growing the more I explore.

      • Ab says:

        I recently found that map too. It’s been very helpful but also makes me feel sad I have more parks to discover than the time. There’s always next summer and at the rate the pandemic is going… Have a nice weekend!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        That park locator map is fantastic. I’m just going to assume that travel restrictions will remain in place next year and plan to spend all my vacation days in Ontario. That’ll give me plenty of opportunities to explore more of Ontario’s parks. Enjoy your weekend as well. Hoping to get in a hike today.

      • Ab says:

        Yes, I think were gonna Ontario bound again next year. Please do share your itinerary when you have it! 🙂 The drive is so long but I’m yearning for another Lake Superior visit next year. Enjoy your hike today and hope you share some pics!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Will do. If (more like when) we return to Lake Superior next summer we’ll likely go for 2 weeks. It is such a long drive and it’ll be nice not to feel so rushed. We’ll also try to stay in a hotel mid-way through just in case shower facilities remain closed at provincial parks. Not being able to take a proper shower was tough this year, especially after a day of hiking. We went to the Lynde Shores Conservation Area yesterday, which was quite lovely. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        There’s a boardwalk at Lynde Shores!? We totally missed it too. And here I thought that we managed to hike all the trails there, including the ones to all the various scenic lookouts.

  4. Lookoom says:

    Wetlands are essential for bio-diversity, in other words they are a mosquito nursery, and the hikers lured there are like human sacrifices on the ecology shrine 🙂
    However, we must be grateful to the Ontario authorities for preserving varied natural areas, which renews the possibilities for hiking.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Ha, yes. Wetlands certainly are a nursery for A LOT of different buggies. This fall I plan on visiting more of the wetland areas around Ontario. Might as well while the bugs are all gone! And yes, I am very grateful that Ontario has and continues to preserve a variety of natural areas and habitats. There is clearly a demand for this as the parks in Ontario have been crazy busy this year.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I love learning about the history of the areas that I’ve been hiking through. This story about Oivi was so lovely. It did make me think of whether I should donate all my money to preserve more land in Ontario when I pass away. So who knows, maybe there will be a monument of us one day that indicates how much we enjoy hiking. Ha.

      • Oh, the Places We See says:

        You deserve a monument! Thanks for considering a preservation donation — much needed. We, too, may do something small at a birding park near us. They’ve just completed a fabulous bridge across a river from which you can view 7 islands. But the walk to the bridge is long with no resting spots. We may donate a bench or two. It’s good to help.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        That’s a lovely idea to donate a bench (or two) along the trail. The parks and conservation areas around where I live are usually busy and because of the pandemic, they’ve been even more crowded this year. It just reinforces the idea as to why we need to continue to protect and enhance our wilderness and other natural areas.

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