Did you know that Ottawa is surrounded by a network of protected natural areas called the Greenbelt? This Greenbelt has some of the most enjoyable places to hike in Ottawa. In winter, it also offers plenty of options for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
The Greenbelt has miles of trails and there are many that I haven’t hiked yet. This was the case with Trail 50, a trail found in the Mer Bleue sector, east of Ottawa. I parked at parking lot P20 on Andersen Road with the intention of following Trail 50 for the first time, not sure what to expect.
The Mer Bleue Bog is one of the most popular spots in the Greenbelt. This bog is one of the largest in southern Ontario and is home to rare and fragile boreal vegetation, more typical of the north of the province than of the region. I’ve hiked several times the one-kilometre long boardwalk that loops over the bog, but I had never hiked the other trails in the area before.
Trail 50 winds gently in a mixed forest and is therefore very different from the Mer Bleue Bog boardwalk. Without being highly exciting, it offers the opportunity to take a nice walk in the forest. I brought my snowshoes with me, but the snow cover was pretty packed and hard, so I didn’t need it.
Trail 50 eventually leads to the Dewberry Trail, a short 1-kilometre loop that gives an overview of the typical boreal vegetation that can be found in the vicinity of the bog. The forest there seemed a little different to me than the one I had hiked in so far. It’s not the season for dewberries, but the trail was still beautiful (and very quiet) on this cold winter day.
After this short detour on the Dewberry Trail, I resumed my hike on Trail 50. I crossed another parking area (P23), then Dolman Ridge Road, and passed through a row of shrubs where several curious chickadees watched me pass.
After a rather steep (and icy) descent, Trail 50 begins to follow a marshy section. This was my favourite part of the trail. The trail at this point is narrower and a bit brushier. A reminder of how the landscape can vary in the Mer Bleue sector.
Before getting back to the parking lot, I made another detour, this time onto the short Moe-Anderson Trail. This trail (also called the Nut Trees Trail) passes through an oak grove, which was planted to study native oak growth in a managed plantation context. Interpretive signs along the trail allow you to learn more about this species of tree.
When I returned to Trail 50, I only had one more kilometre to go. A kilometre under tall pines, where there was here and there some pretty boardwalks.
In all, my hike totaled over 6 kilometres. Without being very difficult, Trail 50 is definitely a good option for a long walk in the Ottawa Greenbelt. Additionally, this trail is a little less popular than the Mer Bleue Bog boardwalk, so you may find a bit more tranquility there (and maybe you’ll be able to feed a chickadee or two!).