If you read this blog regularly, you know that I have spent the last few months exploring conservation areas in Eastern Ontario. Having visited those in the South Nation River watershed, those along the Raisin River, and those along the Mississippi River, I’m now visiting those managed by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.
The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority is the authority responsible for protecting and restoring land in the Rideau River watershed in Eastern Ontario. As I have visited most of the conservation areas where it is possible to hike, this time I focused on the smaller ones, located along the river or near the Rideau Lakes.
The Rideau River (and its famous canal) is of significant importance to the history and ecology of the region. At 146 kilometres in length, the river flows from Upper Rideau Lake to the Ottawa River. Its name comes from the explorer Samuel de Champlain, who found that the Rideau Falls (where the Rideau River flows into the Ottawa River) looked like curtains (in French, “rideau”)
All of the following conservation areas are great places to enjoy the river or its tributaries!
Chapman Mills Conservation Area
Chapman Mills Conservation Area is located right in the city of Ottawa and yet it almost makes you forget you’re in the city. The land in this 23-acre protected area was donated to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority by the South Nepean Development Corporation as well as Parks Canada.
There are 1.5 kilometres of trails and boardwalks on the west bank of the Rideau River. It’s also a great place to view the magnificent Vimy Memorial Bridge.
W.A. Taylor Conservation Area
W.A. Taylor Conservation Area is also located within the city of Ottawa, although here the city gives way to a more rural landscape. In this small conservation area, it is possible to fish in the Rideau River or to launch a boat. There are also several picnic tables, as well as a small trail (although the trail is really only a short path winding through a wooded area.
Rideau Ferry Yacht Club Conservation Area
Rideau Ferry Yacht Club Conservation Area is the last one I visited because I admit I found the name a little intimidating… I am not used to frequent ” yacht clubs” (and certainly don’t have the budget for it). But the conservation area got this name because it was donated by the former Rideau Ferry Yacht Club in the 1970s.
So you won’t find any yacht at this conservation area, but rather a small beach on the Lower Rideau Lake as well as a boat dock, a short trail, and several picnic tables.
Portland Bay Conservation Area
Like Rideau Ferry Yacht Club Conservation Area, Portland Bay Conservation Area also sits on the shores of one of the Rideau Lakes: Big Rideau Lake in this case. But the main goal of Portland Bay Conservation Area is to protect the lake shore and surrounding wetlands in their natural state. So there is no boat dock or access to water at Portland Bay. Just a few picnic tables to stop on the road and enjoy the view on the lake.
Richmond Conservation Area
The Richmond Conservation Area is located in Richmond, a village within the greater Ottawa area. This conservation area is not located near the Rideau River, but rather near the quiet Jock River. There is a boat dock and a short path under the trees.
I walked near Richmond as part of my hike on the Rideau Trail, but I hadn’t taken the trail detour through the village itself. This detour passes, among other places, through the Richmond Conservation Area. So it was funny for me to find the familiar Rideau Trail markers there.
Motts Mills Conservation Area
Motts Mills Conservation Area is located on the site of the old Motts Mills Dam (you can still see parts of the ruins of the dam), not far from Otter Lake. The conservation area is very small. It offers a nice viewpoint over a marsh, as well as a very short trail that follows Hutton Creek.
In all, I have visited 33 conservation areas in Eastern Ontario to date!
The other conservation areas of the Rideau Valley are: