Burnt Lands Provincial Park

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

55 thoughts on “Burnt Lands Provincial Park

  1. Ab says:

    The purple and blue wildflowers are quite lovely! And I agree with you that wading through tall grass doesn’t sound appealing to me either. All I would think about are ticks!

    Hope you enjoyed your weekend. It really was lovely and I hope not the last burst of warm weather we have.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The wildflowers were beautiful and they were the real highlight of this trail. I’m glad the path was wide as this looks like the perfect place for the ticks to hide. Once the path started to narrow, that was pretty much it for us.

      The weather was lovely this weekend, especially on Saturday. Despite the rain, it looks like we’re supposed to have warm weather all this week. This will be great for Thanksgiving and your weekend getaway.

  2. kagould17 says:

    Amazing how nature adapts to changing conditions and damage to habitat areas. The wildflowers over this meadow give hope for the future. Have a great Sunday. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s incredible to see what this landscape looks like without much human interference. It’s amazing how resilient nature is and it goes to show how important it is to protect this fragile alvar ecosystem at Burnt Lands. Thanks for reading. Linda

  3. Island Traveler says:

    Beautiful hiking trail. Love the purple wild flowers. Just did a 4 miles walk here in Austin. Beautiful morning. Just forgot all my stresses away. Have a great weekend my friend.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This was such a lovely little spot to take a morning stroll, especially when all the wildflowers were in bloom. That’s awesome that you were able to get away to go on a hike and leave all your worries behind. Did you end up going to the Hamilton Pool Reserve?

      • Island Traveler says:

        I missed Hamilton Pool. It needs reservation and people book them a week away. But I rediscovered McKinney and it was fun and my friends enjoyed it a lot. Destiny has its way of creating the best adventures.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        That’s too bad that you weren’t able to reserve a spot in advance. Glad to hear that you had a backup plan though. And yes, funny how it all seems to work out for the best.

      • Island Traveler says:

        Lesson learned. I was still thinking pre-covid, but the world really changed so much in so many things. I will make a reservation next time, like a month away reservation. But yes, the alternative was so much fun and beautiful. Thanks.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        There’s been a few parks and places in Ontario that now require an advance reservation as well in an effort to control the crowds. A few years ago these places were empty and now all of a sudden everyone is into hiking and spending time outdoors. I hope this isn’t the new normal as sometimes it’s fun to be spontaneous.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Nature is pretty incredible, but it goes to show just how important it is to have these nature reserves and parks to protect these sensitive ecosystems. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Linda

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s neat to learn how this park was named and how the landscape was formed. Burnt Lands was especially beautiful when we visited in the early summer with all the wildflowers. I’m glad we hiked this trail early in the morning as there is no shelter from the sun.

  4. carolinehelbig says:

    An alvar ecosystem—thanks for teaching me something new. There’s something about a wide open meadow with big blue sky that is very pleasing. The wildflowers are very pretty. I wouldn’t have guessed that this is near Ottawa.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The blue skies and sun was such a nice backdrop for the open meadow and all the wildflowers. And yes, hard to believe that this sensitive ecosystem is located close to Ottawa, maybe about a 40 minute drive or so.

  5. ourcrossings says:

    Hi, Linda 🙂 What seems to be just another flat, boring, and short trail can soon become an exciting place to explore once we foster curiosity in nature to open up opportunities for learning, connection, and well-being, especially with apps like iNaturalist which help to share biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature. It would also be a fantastic spot to watch and photograph the sunset on a clear evening. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva xxx

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It’s amazing how this alvar ecosystem can support a lot of plants, insects and birds. We actually downloaded iNaturalist this summer and have enjoyed tracking biodiversity and learning more about what we find along the trail. It’s a great way to combine some education with exercise. Enjoy the rest of your week. Linda

  6. Meg says:

    This looks like a good walk to take before the sun is overhead (as you mentioned)! The wildflowers are pretty and it looks like another lovely place to visit… 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We never really know what to expect when we visit a non-operating park. Turns out the conditions on this trail were lovely and the path was nice and wide. The wildflowers were the real highlight of the hike.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Aren’t they beautiful!? With a name like Burnt Lands I was expecting to see a barren landscape. Hiking through an open meadow field filled with wildflowers was such a pleasant surprise.

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