My 25th conservation area: Mill Pond Conservation Area

I’m continuing to visit the conservation areas of Eastern Ontario! I am currently tackling the one located in the Rideau Valley. While I visited the Baxter Conservation Area a few weeks ago, this week I headed further west and explored Mill Pond Conservation Area.

Mill Pond Conservation Area is located not far from Big Rideau Lake and Murphys Point Provincial Park, two places I had the pleasure of discovering during my hike on the Rideau Trail. I had never heard of Mill Pond before, however. So I was rather eager to explore the place, especially since I had read that there was almost 6 kilometres of trail there.

As soon as I arrived, I was stumbled upon an old house (which would be, it seems, a private residence), as well as an old sugar shack and a covered picnic area. These buildings were all very quiet (closed due to the pandemic or just non-functional, I still don’t know) as I walked past them looking for the trailhead.

Mill Pond Conservation Area
Lovely old house in the forest

I have to admit that my first few metres on these trails didn’t really impress me. The trail was very wide and covered with small rocks and seemed more suited to accommodate motor vehicles than hikers like me. The forest (mostly made up of maple trees) was pretty, but nothing more. I told myself that I might find the next 5 kilometres rather long if the trails were like the whole way.

Mill Pond trails
It’s okay, but the trail could be better

Also the trail signage was pretty confusing and not very clear. After looking at the trail map when I arrived, I had decided to follow a portion of the Blue Trail (which goes through the maple grove), before continuing on the Red and Orange trails (which run along Mill Pond) and, if I still had energy at the end, to complete the short loop of the Yellow Trail. But, without realizing it, I found myself on the Yellow Trail from the start. I eventually found the Blue Trail which I initially wanted to follow first, but I wondered several times if I was going in the right direction.

Things improved a lot when I finally got to the Orange Trail. The trail became narrower and steeper. This made for a more interesting hike, with several good ascents and descents, which reminded me of the Rideau Trail, on the other side of Big Rideau Lake. The signage continued to be a bit confusing, but I think at this point I was starting to get used to it.

Lime kiln in the forest
A nice surprise: the ruins of a lime kiln in the forest

Then the trail reached Mill Pond and the place finally won me over. Mill Pond is pretty big for a pond and it looked beautiful under the blue July sky. The trail continued to follow its shores, offering several pretty vantage points over its tranquil waters.

Mill Pond Conservation Area
Mirror pond

I took a break there for a few minutes. I heard a bullfrog croak, then the song of a loon accompanied the shrill cicadas. And as if the moment couldn’t be more perfect, there were very few mosquitoes (maybe it was too hot?) and no deer flies at all (which felt like heaven after Mashkinonje Provincial Park last week!).

Mill Pond Conservation Area
Mill Pond Conservation Area isn’t too bad after all!

I eventually completed the loop that brought me back to my car. In all, I covered more than 5 kilometres. And, surprisingly considering the first few meters, I ended up enjoying this hike a lot!

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