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