Six places to experience nature and wildlife in Lanark County

Break out the camera and head to Lanark County to experience fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities, in stunning natural settings. From lakeside oases, to miles of pristine wilderness and rolling pastoral fields, Lanark County has the perfect environments to support wildlife in all its forms.

Here, visitors can catch sight of breathtaking scenery and wildlife that can include foxes, otters, mink, deer, bears, wild turkeys, herons, nuthatches, chickadees, cardinals, bluebirds, and everything in between. Elusive species of birds, and even eagles, have been spotted in the rugged terrain in Lanark County.

Combine bird-watching with hiking and register for an excursion with Gilligallou Bird Inc., Eastern Ontario’s backyard birding experts, who know all the best spots to view elusive bird species, and when to find them there.  Plan a visit to one of Lanark County’s Community Forests, sustainably managed public forests located throughout the county. Community Forests offer a rich, healthy mosaic of woodlands, wetlands, streams, lakes, plants and animals.

Lanark County is teeming with opportunities to catch sight of something special, all in natural areas that will refresh and rejuvenate. Bring your camera, a good pair of walking shoes and head for a natural paradise; enhance your outing with a bike rental from Heritage Bikes and Rentals in Perth, and the Chamber of Commerce in Carleton Place, or Old Town Hall in Almonte.

  1. Ottawa Valley Recreation Trail142 Franktown Rd., Carleton Place

Running between Carleton Place and Mississippi Mills, and beyond, the Ottawa Valley Rail Trail (OVRT) follows the path of a former rail line. This corridor is the perfect place for wildlife to use as they move from one location to another. Here, you may catch sight of deer, hares, chipmunks, and birds of all kinds, including pileated woodpeckers, blue jays, and finches. Bring your camera, and cycle or walk the rail trail for some phenomenal wildlife viewing opportunities. Pick up a bite for a picnic lunch at The Good Food Company, and equip yourself for your outing on the OVRT by swinging past Bait Casters, just outside of Carleton Place, where you’ll find everything you need to enhance your outdoor excursion.  

  1. Pakenham Five-Span BridgeCounty Rd. 29, Pakenham

Spanning the majestic Mississippi River in Pakenham, the historic five-span bridge in Pakenham offers fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities. The swift-moving water of the Mississippi River flows beneath the bridge before dropping off a limestone ledge into the deeper waters of the Mississippi, creating aquatic environments that support a number of fish species, including pike, panfish, small-mouth bass, and more. This is a popular spot for cold-water fly-fishing, as well as rod and reel fishing. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a break on the flat rocks that line the shoreline, or pick up a picnic lunch from Pakenham General Store. Birders will enjoy watching for ducks of all kinds, Canada geese, and maybe a bittern or heron.

  1. Blueberry Mountain502 Hills of Peace Rd., Lanark Highlands

Explore the 1,250-acres of pristine wilderness at cliffLAND in Lanark Highlands. A five-kilometre trail will take you to the peak of Blueberry Mountain, where you can sit and relax while taking in a panoramic vista of the region.  This trail winds through boggy areas and ponds, and past a tumbling waterfall, all tucked amidst healthy woodland. With such a variety of terrains, this is a wildlife-viewing paradise, and you can expect to see sign of bears, so be sure to announce your presence as you hike. You may catch sight of deer, otter, fox, mink, raccoon, squirrels, chipmunks, hares, and more. This area is popular with birders as well; look for wild turkeys, chickadees, woodpeckers, and even wood ducks if they’ve chosen to make their home in the trees bordering the pond. This is a natural conservation area, and visitors are expected to leave no trace, and not to disturb wildlife.

  1. Perth Wildlife Reserve Conservation Area100 Wildlife Rd., Perth

Hike the 3.5-km trail in this carefully preserved conservation area on the outskirts of Perth. Specially designed to encourage wildlife habitation, you may see deer, ducks, Canada geese, hares, bluebirds, and wild turkeys. In warmer weather, take a break at the Butterfly Garden and see how many species of butterflies you can identify. Don’t miss a stop at the Tay Marsh lookout; wetland environments offer a plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities. Why not enhance your visit by renting a bike from Heritage Bikes in Perth, and making the 15-minute cycle to the conservation area? All that outdoor activity will help build up an appetite – visit any one of a number of eateries in downtown Perth for a bite to eat, or pick up a picnic lunch from Picnic Café & Catering, only a five minute drive from the reserve.

  1. Mill of Kintail2854 Ramsay Concession 8, Almonte

The historic Mill of Kintail offers more than 150-acres of trails through lush forests and alongside the picturesque Indian River. This is the perfect place to spend the day hiking in a natural setting, and wildlife spotting. Expect to see chipmunks, squirrels, hares, and colourful birds, including phoebes, goldfinches, nuthatches, and even cardinals. When you’ve had your fill of the outdoors, head inside to explore the history of the area at the R. Tait McKenzie and James Naismith Museum, on-site. Entrance fees are required, $6 per vehicle, or $3 per person. Make a visit to Gilligallou Bird Inc. or Vamos Outdoors in Almonte, to get equipped for your trek; fuel yourself with a meal from one of Almonte’s fantastic downtown eateries.

  1. Purdon Conservation AreaConcession Rd. 8, Lanark Highlands

Purdon Conservation is a nature-lover’s paradise! Take a self-guided tour along the wooden boardwalk of a rare fen wetland and hike to a beaver flood. For three weeks beginning in mid-June the Showy Lady Slipper orchids are in full bloom, and this colony is home to over 10,000 blooms. You don’t need to wait for June, though! The conservation area is accessible any time of the year, and makes a lovely excursion in all four seasons. This pristine wooded area is home to a number of songbird species, and you can also watch for hares, chipmunks, squirrels, ducks, geese, and beavers. Please stay on the wooden boardwalks or marked trail. Stop for a bite to eat (before or after your tour) at the Lanark local dining hotspot, Lanark Landing, located right in the heart of the village.

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