Have you ever been to Forêt-la-Blanche? This beaut is a rare gem in that it’s an ecological reserve not far from city life. The flora is untouched and fauna roams wild and free. A great escape to go explore with family and friends.
It’s a mission this year to discover and share local trails, and hopefully encourage more people to get out and explore the beauty in our own backyard. Forêt-la-Blanche is a new discovery, and a happy one!
The Low Down
- Distance: An easy 60 km (roughly 50 mins) drive from downtown Ottawa and 45kms from Orleans.
- Address: 300 Chemin Saddler, Mayo, QC J8L 4L8
- Directions: Take the King Edward bridge to cross over to Quebec and stay on hwy 5N. Exit hwy 50 E. Continue on 50E then exit on route 309. Turn left on route 309 then take the first right on to route 315 towards Mayo. Once in Mayo, continue on the 315 following the signs for La Forêt-la-Blanche Ecological Reserve.
- Cellphone Range: No
- Trail Distance: Trails range from 500m to 5kms.
- Elevation Gain: 10m
- Dogs: No
- Crowds: Low traffic.
- Washrooms: Outhouse at the parking lot.
- Entrance Fee: 4$ children, 7$ adults, and a max of 15$ per family.
- Season: Open 0900-1700hrs daily.
- More Information: Visit the Foret la blanche website for more information along with the trail map.
Picked up the littles (my niece and nephew) and headed straight to La Forêt-la-Blanche Ecological Reserve! It was a full day planned with this hike first, then Chutes de Plaisance, following by swimming at the local public pool. I may or may not have had the goal of giving the little an adventurous yet full day so that they’d sleep well (and early) – ha ha ha.
It worked, they enjoyed themselves. We had a few laughs, I had a few heart attacks (kidding, but really, kids have no fear and that gives this aunt heart palpitations ha ha), and overall it was a great day!
What to bring
- Bear bell/spray: There are bears and other wildlife in the area. So if you’re hiking solo or in a small group, then a bear bell and/or spray is advised.
- Bug spray: Lakes + forest = all the bugs….so bring all the bug spray.
- Tip: turn your cellphone on ‘airplane mode’ during the hike to save battery power, that way you won’t run out for a) emergencies and b) all-the-pics.
Forêt-la-Blanche Trail Description
There are six different trails in Forêt-la-Blanche for visitors to enjoy, varying in length, and each with their own set of lookouts. On recommendation from the guide, we took trail #3 as it had the most bridges and a distance that the kids would tolerate well.
The trail are well marked, and although a little left to the wild at times, well maintained. Some of the boardwalks seem like they need a little love, and my guess is that is what the donation (aka entrance fees) are needed for.
The waterfalls along trail #3 is among the advertised highlights of la Forêt-la-Blanche. Unfortunately, due to a recent storm, the waterfalls was blocked by fallen trees. The guide reassured us that this is on their to do list to fix up as soon as possible. Sooooo we’ll be back. Plus I’d like to hike the remaining of the trails!
All the Flora
One of the perks about an ecological reserve? All the natural beauty! The lakes were framed with bright red cardinal flowers along with other wildflowers flaunting purples, yellows, and whites.
The trails themselves have wild mushrooms almost at every turn. I definitely don’t know the first thing about mushrooms, but it was still fun for us to see and discover how many variations we could find.
At one point the kids even found wild raspberry bushes much to their delight. A sweet perk to the trail, although disappointed that they were only allow one each and had to leave the rest for the wildlife. 😉
All the Lakes
Along trail #3 you’ll discover Lac aux Herons and Lac Amik, both with long boardwalks and lookouts which makes it an easy section to hike and enjoy. This was a fun section with herons flying, bright red cardinal flowers, and for some reason…the kids loved watching the spiders in some webs along the route.
The lakes are in their eco finest, the area is untouched, and wild, and free. There’s something incredibly peaceful and beautiful about it.
What the kids thought
Because I picked them up from home, it made for an extra long drive out to the trail head. Almost 2hr, which for them, was a bit much. Especially since there were no electronics to entertain them (which personally, I liked). They did great though and were more than ready to run around in the forest when we got there.
We followed the rule of staying on the trail and always keep the adult in view. Beyond that they were free to roam, and run, and discover things!
What they loved most were the different kids of mushrooms, bridges, and wild berries.
What they didn’t love so much was the last 100 metres…by this point they were tuckered and asking for piggy backs. They finished it though, and as soon as they saw reception (indicating trail end), hands were up in the air and they were shouting ‘yassssssss’. Ha ha. Mostly, they were hungry, and they knew the picnic basket was in the car waiting for them.
Wrapping it up
All in all, it was a good start to the day! We were the only ones on the trail which was a little surprising since we got there mid morning, but it was a weekday. It no doubt gets a little busier on the weekends. It’s another easy to get to hike to put on the list, although some will say it’s a little far to drive from Ottawa…but really, it’s not. It’s easy drive out of the city to appreciate the gifts of nature and no electronics. We ended up having great conversation and explored all the flora and fauna. Cheers to those #electronicfreedays and family time!