I didn’t have high expectations before visiting the Perth Wildlife Reserve. As you know, I am currently visiting all of the Rideau Valley conservation areas in Eastern Ontario and the one in Perth was next on my list. A 3 km trail, on mostly flat ground, close to the Tay River, that seemed very nice to me, but nothing really exciting.
Finally, I ended up really liking the Perth Wildlife Reserve. Okay, okay, the trail isn’t a big physical challenge and I was eaten up by mosquitoes, but it was still a pleasant and, above all, interesting visit.
The Perth Wildlife Reserve is one of the most important wildlife areas in Eastern Ontario. Covering 257 hectares centered around Tay Marsh, the reserve was first established in the 1970s to serve as a refuge for migrating birds. Over the years, various wildlife management techniques have been tested there to help restore populations of certain species of birds, ducks, reptiles and small mammals.
I guess that these wildlife management techniques worked out, because as soon as I arrived, I was greeted by a deer which elegantly ran away when I drove in the parking lot. During my hike, I saw several squirrels, woodpeckers, goldfinches, ducks and even a curious hare that watched me walk down the trail.
I haven’t seen any snakes (phew) although some areas have been designed to recreate the ideal habitat for the Black Rat Snake, Canada’s largest snake species. I’ve been “lucky” to come across a Black Rat Snake in Murphys Point Provincial Park two years ago, so I didn’t really feel the need to see another one while I was at the Perth Wildlife Preserve.
About halfway along the trail, there is an observation platform overlooking Tay Marsh and Tay River. There used to be a lock there that was part of the Tay Canal that linked the city of Perth to the Rideau Canal. I’ve wrote on this canal before when I did a short hike at Beveridges Locks a few years ago. The Tay Canal was never an economic success, but today it is quite popular with boaters.
My hike finally ended at a place called Butterfly Garden, a pretty field of wildflowers and ponds where I saw, of course, several butterflies. If it hadn’t been so warm, I would have sat down at one of the picnic tables there to take in this perfectly bucolic landscape.
In fact, that’s what I liked most about this short hike: the variety of landscapes. The trail itself varies widely, ranging from a grassy track to a narrow rocky path. There were also many interpretive signs on wildlife and habitat creation, as well as on the history of the Tay Canal and the wildlife reserve.
Most importantly, I didn’t see anyone else on this trail. Nothing better to enjoy the peaceful nature of the area!
Note – If you are planning to visit the wildlife reserve, I highly recommend a stop in Perth, one of my favorite small towns in Eastern Ontario. You’ll find there several historic buildings, numerous cafes, shops and restaurants as well as a monument paying homage to a giant cheese (I’m not kidding!).