I have the feeling that we are having a never-ending winter this year. I’m getting itchy with impatience, thinking of all the trails I could hit once they are not snowy anymore. So, as I’m getting a little tired of waiting, I decided to pretend like winter was over and like all the snow has already melted away and I went to explore the Cooper Marsh Conservation Area.
Cooper Marsh is located on the shores of the St. Lawrence River (where it actually is Lake St. Francis) near South Lancaster, Ontario, only a few kilometres from the Quebec border. It has a few kilometres of trail and several bird watching platforms (there is apparently more than 130 species of birds in the area).
Cooper Marsh was designated a significant wetland in the 1980s. The conservation area was created to protect it, especially given the rapid development on neighboring waterfront lands. Restoration work has also taken place in recent years to improve the habitat and make it more suitable for the marsh’s ecosystem.
As I said before, there is still snow on the ground and the landscape is still rather dull, but the marsh was quite lively when I visited it on a gray Sunday. I saw a multitude of geese, ducks and herons (even though some ponds in the marsh are still covered with ice). I also saw several woodpeckers, carobs, tits and blackbirds, and many other birds that I could not identify.
The conservation area is charming, with several boardwalks winding over the marsh. There are several interpretation signs (in English and in French, which was a nice surprise for me), picnic areas and a visitor center with an exhibition on local wildlife.
And although the marsh must be nicer in summer when the trees are full of leaves and when the scenery has a bit more colours, I have to admit that the marsh under the April sky had a little je-ne-sais-quoi.
I hiked almost all the trails (there are five in the conservation area), except the one in the western part of the marsh. Nothing too exhausting, but this short hike was just enough to make me look forward to the start of the real hiking season. I cannot wait for summer!