Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: May 2021
Menzel Centennial Provincial Nature Reserve protects a rare fen, one of the largest wetlands of this type in Southeastern Ontario. It is located just north of Prince Edward County and is a non-operating park so there are limited activities and no facilities. It does however offer a single hiking trail that winds through the unique habitats in the park.
After spending the weekend at the cabin, it was time to return home. Along the drive back to Toronto we made a detour to hike through Menzel Centennial. There is a single access point to the nature reserve along Roblin Road. There is no official parking lot, but we parked along the shoulder of the road as there were a few other cars here and walked towards the entrance gate.
After walking a couple hundred metres along the path we arrived at the official trailhead which contains a map of the trail and more information as to how the nature reserve was created. The nature reserve was named after Mr. Menzel who was instrumental in protecting this area, along with the help from the Nature Conservancy of Canada and other partners. There is a single trail that runs through the park, the Oivi Nature Trail, which was named after Menzel’s wife Oivi.
Across from the trailhead there’s a commemorative plaque for Oivi indicating that her love for nature will endure here.
The Oivi Nature Trail (4.8km round trip, rated easy) winds through the different areas in the nature reserve and is signed with seven posts which highlight a unique feature of the landscape, starting first with how the forest returns.
The second section winds through the edge of the wetlands to a wooded wetland. The description of the trail contains a warning that depending on the season, the trail may be flooded and biting insects may be abundant. Thankfully we visited early enough in the spring that we didn’t have to deal with any biting bugs, but unfortunately that meant we had to instead deal with some wet and soggy areas on the trail. Luckily there are quite a few boardwalk sections through the wetlands.
The trail then leads through the central uploads, an open field and an area where the ground contains lots of sand and gravel before crossing another boardwalk through a shrub fen. A fen is a type of peat-accumulating 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 the end of the boardwalk, it’s a short stretch to reach the end of the trail at Mud Lake. There’s a picnic table here and a small entrance into the shallow lake. We took a break at the picnic table to admire the views before turning around and hiking the way we came.
It was a beautiful day to go for a walk. While the trail contained some soggy and muddy areas, overall it wasn’t too bad. And hey, at least we didn’t have to deal with the biting insects!
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here