I am back from a short visit to the Eastern Townships in Quebec. I had planned to do some hiking with my sisters, but as rain was forecasted for the weekend, we decided to opt for an easy trail: the Sentier du Pionnier at the Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises in Magog.
I have visited Magog a few times in the past and drove by the marsh many times, but I had never hiked one of its trails before. I knew that the place is very popular – its long wooden boardwalk and its magnificent view of Mount Orford make it a must-visit in the region.
For my sisters and I who wanted to get out despite the rain, Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises was the perfect spring hike: we knew there would be fewer people than usual due to the gloomy weather, and we also knew also that the boardwalk would allow us to avoid mud, ice and slush.
Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises is an important wetland, located in the heart of the city of Magog. Not only is it home to a complex and fragile ecosystem, but it also acts as a natural filter, as the Cherry River (rivière aux Cerises) is a tributary of the magnificent Lake Memphremagog.
The history of the marsh has been greatly influenced by human impact. Dams built in the area have impacted the water level along the Cherry River, leading to the creation of several wetlands. The water level stabilized at the beginning of the 20th century, allowing a rich biodiversity to develop in the marsh. For 25 years, the Association du Marais-de-la-Rivière-aux-Cerises has managed and protected the site.
There are more than 5 kilometres of trails, accessible in all seasons, which highlight the different habitats of the marsh. The most popular is undoubtedly Sentier du Pionnier (Pioneer Trail), which is made up of a long boardwalk on stilts that allows you to observe the marsh up close. There is also an observation tower along the trail.
March may not be the ideal month to observe the fauna and flora (the marsh and the river were still covered in ice), but the stroll was still pleasant. The marsh is pretty, especially with Mount Orford in the background. We continued our walk to the shore of Lake Memphremagog (also still covered in ice) and then slowly retraced our steps.
There is also an interpretation centre on site to learn more about the history and importance of the marsh. In summer, guided kayak tours are also offered. There are therefore many ways to be able to enjoy this little natural oasis, which I am very happy to have finally been able to visit!