When I hiked the Rideau Trail two years ago, I walked through Foley Mountain Conservation Area in Westport. This section was one of the ones I enjoyed the most, and I promised myself that I would come back one day to explore more the multiple trails of the little mountain. Which I finally did on the weekend.
Foley Mountain is a small granite mountain located at about a 90-minute drive from Ottawa. This 800-acre protected area is managed by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, like the Perth Wildlife Reserve and the Mill Pond Conservation Area which I have visited in recent weeks.
At 215 metres above sea level, Foley Mountain is not a very high mountain. But it is still a must-see in the region, especially given its Spy Rock look-out. From this summit of pink granite, the view is simply magnificent. The quiet village of Westport, the steeple of its great white church, Upper Rideau and Westport Sand lakes… It may have been my second visit, but I still felt like I could have sat on the rocky promontory for hours just to enjoy this beautiful scenery.
Spy Rock was created half a billion years ago when a big meteorite crashed a few miles to the south of the mountain. The impact created a massive earthquake, and the land south of the mountain collapsed a hundred metres, thus creating this steep cliff face and, by extension, this spectacular view.
But Foley Mountain Conservation Area is more than just Spy Rock, and that’s why I came back to visit it. There are 10 kilometres of trails in the mountain, in addition to the eight kilometers of the Rideau Trail that go through the conservation area from east to west (which I hiked two years ago). This time around I did a big loop following some parts of the red (Oak Trail), green (White Pine Trail), blue (Blue Circle Trail), and purple (Beaver Trail) trails.
It was the kind of hike I really like. Trails were well marked and well maintained, but still offering a good physical challenge. The trails go over a few granite ridges (which might get slippery when wet) and the forest is made up of several different species of trees so it varies greatly along the hike. The green trail took me up to the highest part of the mountain, which made me realize that I might not be as fit as I used to be (I definitely need to do more mountain hikes).
I finished my hike with the purple trail, which passes by a beaver pond. It is the only one where there are interpretation signs, as well as brochures at the trailhead offering information on the local flora and fauna. The beaver pond made me realize that it’s not just Spy Rock that offers some pretty scenery at Foley Mountain.
In all, I hiked almost seven kilometres. There is also a small beach in the conservation area by the Upper Rideau Lake, where I bathed two years ago. But since it was getting a bit crowded on Foley Mountain, I decided not to walk to the beach this time around. It will be for next time. Anyway, Foley Mountain is one of those places you want to come back to over and over again, and I know this isn’t the last time I’ve hiked on its trails.