Mac Johnson Wildlife Area: Trail Report

Mac Johnson Wildlife Area is 532 hectares of wetland, field and forest that surrounds a reservoir that’s home to geese and trumpeter swans among others. With wide, mostly flat trails, this family friendly hike is one that everyone can enjoy.

Mac Johnson Wildlife Area

All the Trail Details

  • Distance from Ottawa: 120kms (1hr 15mins) 
  • GPS Coordinates: 44.62939 -75.73562
  • Address: Concession Rd 6 North Darling, Clayton, ON K0A 1P0
  • Directions: Take the 417W to the 416 South to the 401 towards Brockville. Exit at Stewart Blvd (County Rd 29) and turn right towards TinCap. At TinCap, turn right on Debruge Rd. Wildlife Area entrance will be clearly indicated on right.
  • Entrance Fee: Free.
  • Parking: Large parking lot at entrance.
  • Trailhead: Marked trails starting from the parking lot.
  • Number of Trails: 5
  • Total Distance of Trails: up to 11kms.
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal.
  • Washrooms: Located near the nature centre.
  • Cell Reception: Yes
  • Season: All seasons. Open 7:30 a.m. to dusk daily.
  • Features: Resevoir, trumpeter swans, picnic area, interpretive trail (#1), pond skating in winter.
  • Activities:Hiking, fishing, snowshoeing, skiing, nature centre.
  • Dogs: Permitted.
  • Suggested Stops: If you are up for more adventures, check out the town of Prescott on the St-Lawrence Seaway (Parks Canada has the lighthouse and Fort Wellington).
  • Nearby Hikes: Lyn Valley Conservation Area.
  • More Information: Visit Cataraqui River Conservation Authority for more information and trail map.

Land Acknowledgement

These are the lands of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee-ga (Haudenosaunee), Omàmìwininìwag (Algonquin), and Wendake-Nionwentsïo people.⁠ It is important as avid hikers and stewards of the land, to acknowledge and understand the full story our surroundings along with the people that care for her, both past and present. As sourced from native-land.ca, if there are corrections please send to victoria@girlgonegood.com

Land Management

This Wildlife Area, locally known and back pond, is managed by Cataraqui River Conservation Authority.

In their words; “The property serves six primary functions:

  • It provides important woodland, meadow, wetland, and open water habitat for almost 600 plant species, over 160 bird species, and a multitude of other fauna.
  • The dam and reservoir provide flood control for the City of Brockville.
  • The property is home to the Eastern Service Centre for maintenance of all CRCA properties and water control structures in the eastern portion of the Cataraqui region.
  • Its trails and facilities provide passive outdoor recreation opportunities.
  • Environmental education programs are offered from the property.
  • Wildlife enhancement projects such as the Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program are supported at MJWA.”

What To Bring

Besides the 10 essentials and what I would normally suggest for hikes, here are the highlights for this particular hike:

  • Bird Identification handout, book, or iNaturelist: As a designated wildlife area with ongoing conservation efforts, this is a good hike to hone in on those bird ID skills.
  • Waste bag: What you hike in with, you hike out with. That’s the golden rule, and if you see anything that’s not part of nature (like food wrappers) kindly pick it up to throw out later.

Mac Johnson Trail

There are 5 trails total at Mac Johnson Wildlife Area. You can combine them to complete a large outter loop hike for 10kms. The trails a mostly flat, wide, and well marked. There are features along the paths like heritage insights, ruins, boardwalks, and reservoir views. Trail 1 is a short interpretive trail.

Stops and shops

Recommend heading over to Prescott after your hike to fuel up at Katarina’s Coffee Shop, maybe shop at Once@426, then to explore either Fort Wellington or the Battle of the Windmill Historic Sight (lighthouse). Why not end the day with picking up brews from Windmill Brewery?

Wrapping Up

There are a lot of local events held at this location, but overall, there are enough trails to enjoy and feel like you’re not crowded.  Kindly respect the trail and community by staying on trail, picking up trash, leaving no trash, following Leave No Trace guidelines, and any rules posted by the trail managers.

Did you hike this trail recently? If so, comment on conditions below!