Ahhhhhhh, it’s the first hike of the year! Winter has always been my favourite hiking season in Ontario. Which sounds a little weird to some, but here me out – there are no bugs and way less trail traffic. The serenity of not swatting around mosquitoes every second or getting to a lookout only to find it overcrowded is pure bliss. b l i s s. Although to be fair, Cooper Marsh in South Lancaster is great any time of year.
The Low Down
- Distance:125km (80min) drive from downtown Ottawa
- Directions: Take 417 East for 60 kms. Exit 138, and turn right (south) towards Cornwall. Stay on the 138 for approximately 30kms until you reach the 401 in Cornwall. Take Hwy 401 East. Exit at County Road 34 / County Road 2 in South Lancaster. Turn right (south) on to County Road 2. Drive 5 mins. Parking and trailhead will be indicated by signs and on the right side.
- Address: Cooper Marsh Conservation, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry County Road 2, Summerstown, ON K0C 2E0
- Cell phone range: Yes.
- Number of trails: 5
- Trail Distance: Trail loops that range from 1 to 4 kms.
- Elevation Gain: None.
- Duration: 30min – 2hrs
- Dogs: No dogs allowed due to wildlife conservation efforts.
- Crowds: Minimal traffic.
- Washrooms: Outhouses on site at parking lot. Inside waashrooms at visitors centre in the summer.
- Entrance fee: Free.
- Season: Open year round.
- More information: Visit the Raisin Region Conservation Authority for info and the trail map.
In Good Company
Well a little odd to post about having good company when it was a solo hike right? Ha ha. I’m going to anyways, because the benefits of getting outside whether it’s by yourself or with others can no be understated. Here’s what I love about solo hikes;
- a quiet environment allows the mind to quiet
- observation of the surrounds are heightened
- it can be a wonderful moving meditation
- creativity and imagination is sparked
- there are no timings to meet but your own
- you can video for instagram without feeling like an idiot
Well you can’t miss the great big begeeezus trail map sign at the parking area. Pretty sure that this can signal aircraft. Anywhoooo…there’s a large parking lot right at the entrance with the picnic area in front of it. Fels like Cooper Marsh is yelling at you – I like it though.
As another sign suggests, do not leave valuables in your car. That’s just smart practice.
Cooper Marsh Trails
Right, so the trail names alone would make anyone smile. I’d say that it’s for the kids, but it made me giggle. Muskrat Motor…that’s the best.
- Swallow Swirl: 1km, the main marsh, half boardwalk, one observation lookout.
- Mallard March: 1.5 kms, the main marsh, half boardwalk, 3 observation lookouts, one tower lookout.
- Heron Hike: 2kms, the east marsh, overlooking the butterfly and songbird meadow.
- Muskrat Motor: 3kms, the main marsh, two lookouts including a view of the St-Lawrence river.
- Turtle Trail: 4km, the west marsh, one lookout, pond, separate parking area.
The trails are well marked, cleared, maintained, and wide enough for two people to hike together side by side. Most of the paths are exposed so dress accordingly.
Nourish Thy Self
The post hike recommendation is to drive up County Road 2 (which turns into the 34) and it to Alexandria. Afterwards you can follow the 34 north to the 417 to get back to Ottawa.
Why the post hike stop in Alexandria?
- Left & Write Paperie: Not only does the owner, Anick Bertrand, host the most adorable and trendy paperie shop, but she’s also the creative designer behind the GirlGoneGood logo! The store itself is in a beautiful brick building on main street. It’s a great stop to pick up hilarious cards and unique local gifts. #writeon
- Fauxmagerie Zengarry: Now becoming a staple in grocery stores in Ottawa and beyond really (spotted in Perth!). Lynda’s line of cashew based vegan ‘cheese’ are perfect, with a line that consists of seven unique flavours. Our fave is the Ale Aged made with Beau’s beer, sure it’s the only one that not GF, and we’re good with that.
- The Quirky Carrot: Oh #kaleyeah! The Quirky Carrot is a must stop. Like m u s t. Nourish thy self with delicious nutrient dense foods, mostly local, and always made from scratch with love. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options. And I dare you not to drool over their brownies if sweets are your thing… Actually, I think the owner, Julia, and I became quick friends through Emily at TrueBee Honey? Memory is vague. It seems that most of my #bossladies and savvy business friends are from SD&G. OOohh and while there, I completely “fan girled” all over another local lady that I follow on instagram – Ronna’s Cakes!
Another great hike in the books and just in time before some weather comes in. So this weekend, we’re getting all ‘hygge’ with warm blankets, reading socks, candles, and an abundance of self-care. Maybe some nutrient rich soup and organic sourdough bread for lunch. Facemasks and meditations. Fun and light movies in the afternoon… #bringitonwinter
Even though there’s always a ‘go bag’ in the car trunk for adventures, it’s alright to slow things down as well.