Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: July 2021
Located near Ottawa, Burnt Lands Provincial Park contains an alvar ecosystem which supports a diversity of plant and animal species, many of which are provincially or regionally rare. The area is thought to have received its name from one of the forest fires that swept through this area during early European settlement. Burnt Lands is a non-operating park and offers no facilities. However, it is a popular destination for locals to come birdwatching or take a leisurely stroll.
After spending the night in a hotel due to the rain, we woke up feeling refreshed. We had no regrets about ditching our campsite. We uncharacteristically took our time getting up and headed out a bit later than usual. From the hotel it was about a 20 minute drive to Burnt Lands.
There are apparently a few access points to Burnt Lands. We parked at the entrance along March Road where there’s a small parking lot that can accommodate about two or three cars. The path is quite obvious and follows along what looks like an old road.
An alvar is an open habitat based on limestone or dolostone with thin or no soil covering. As a result the vegetation is often sparse. But this stressed habitat supports a variety of rare plants and animals as well as a lot of wildflowers.
The trail itself is entirely flat and isn’t marked. At one point we came to a fork in the road where the path branches off in a few different directions. It looks like the road continues around the outer perimeter of the park, but we kept going straight. Shortly after we saw another sign to indicate that the path ahead leads to a sensitive habitat and that dogs must be secured to a leash at all times.
The path continues to lead through an open field and the landscape is more or less all the same. It was incredibly scenic with all the wildflowers and bright blue skies. We were thankful that we were hiking this trail first thing in the morning as there is zero shade coverage.
The trail then passes by an abandoned building. Apparently this once served as a military-operated radio communications receiver station that was decommissioned after the end of the Cold War.
The path starts to narrow towards the tree line and we weren’t thrilled at the idea of wading through tall grass. This seemed like a good sign to turn around and walk back the way we came.
Overall we spent 45 minutes walking around through the area. It was a lovely way to start our morning.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here