Going for a hike or walk doesn’t need to mean an uphill climb and a breathless pace; sometimes the best walks are the low-key strolls that get you moving and outdoors for a refreshing change of pace. In scenic Lanark County, accessible and easy-to-manage trails mean that everyone can enjoy the beauty of the natural settings found here, no matter their fitness level.
Located less than half an hour from the City of Ottawa, Lanark County offers the best of both worlds, featuring urban centres like Almonte, Pakenham, Carleton Place, Perth and Lanark Village, along with lush forests, pastoral fields, and clean lakes and rivers. Lanark County’s low-key walks invite you to meander, ramble, amble, stroll and explore in stunning natural settings that will rejuvenate without straining your heartrate.
Here are five relaxing Lanark County walks that will get you moving at your own pace!
- On the boardwalk: Purdon Conservation Area
Concession Rd. 8, Lanark Highlands
For a fragrant floral experience visit Purdon Conservation Area in Lanark Highlands, home to Canada’s largest collection of Showy Lady’s Slipper Orchids – more than 10,000 of these rare orchids bloom here each June. One of the Seven Wonders of Lanark County, the conservation area features a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk that takes you along the 400-metre Orchid Trail for a close-up view of these rare flowers. The self-guided 1.3-kilometre Ted Mosquin Highland Trail takes you all the way to the shores of Purdon Lake. Interpretive signage identifies plants and wildlife along the way; pit toilets and parking available on site.
613-259-2421 or www.mvc.on.ca/conservation-areas/purdon
- Round and round: Experience a labyrinth
974 Concession 9A Dalhousie, McDonald’s Corners
Labyrinths are a fantastic way to enjoy a revitalizing spiritual and physical walk, and have been used for millennia for meditation and contemplation. In McDonald’s Corners, a stone labyrinth is located at the McDonald’s Corners & Elphin Recreation & Arts (MERA), and is a good example of a typical circular labyrinth. A leisurely exploration of this carefully laid-out labyrinth will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed! In nearby Carleton Place, the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth is another labyrinth to explore, and is located behind the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum at 267 Edmund St. To fully appreciate the labyrinth experience, take a moment to centre yourself before entering the labyrinth, then walk slowly and purposefully towards the centre. When you reach the centre, you can stay for as long as you like; standing in the centre is considered a time of awakening. Walk out just as slowly and purposefully, and relish your experience!
- Art in a garden: Kiwi Gardens
687 Harper Rd., Perth
Combine the love of horticulture with the love of art at Kiwi Gardens, a 10-acre perennial nursery that is home to unique outdoor sculptures and artistic masterpieces. Kiwi Gardens’ meandering pathways wind their way through stunning gardens and natural woodland areas. Each year, Kiwi Gardens is transformed into an artistic wonderland on Father’s Day weekend, during the Art in the Garden show and sale, where more than 30 artists display their wares in the garden’s luxurious setting. An amble through Kiwi Gardens is a refreshing experience that will leave you both relaxed and inspired.
- Forest Walk: Baird Trail
1024 Herron Mills Rd., Lanark Highlands
Baird Trail is considered to be one of the most beautiful trails in Lanark County, and with good reason. Situated in a community forest and on a property that was originally settled in 1837 by a pioneer family, Baird Trail offers a unique and informative walk for visitors. The 3-kilometre trail includes three loops and two boardwalks, and is an example of a typical woodland setting in Lanark County, featuring mixed woodlands and wetland areas. Interpretive panels inform hikers of points of interest during the self-guided tour. Pit toilets and picnic tables are available on site. Another popular forest trail is found at the Mill of Kintail, in Mississippi Mills, where hikers can explore more than four kilometres of easy-walking trails. A museum, store, washroom, playground, parking and picnic area are available on site.
- Accessible Waterfront: Tay River Pathway
99 Christie Lake Rd., Perth
The difficult part of any hike to the waterfront is usually the getting there, but a meander along the Tay River Pathway’s fully accessible trail will make reaching the Tay River an easy goal to achieve. The Tay River Pathway offers a relaxing 1.5-kilometre stroll through fields and young woodlands, with benches strategically situated along the way to give users a place to take a break and enjoy the natural scenery. A viewing area at the end of the trail overlooks the Tay River, and is the perfect place for a bird-watching break before heading back on the trail. The Tay River Pathway is accessible for pedestrians, and those using walkers or wheelchairs; it is linked to the Garden for the Blind and is located behind Lanark Lodge and Perth Community Care Centre.