Mer Bleue is the largest bog and natural area in Canada’s Capital Region and the second-largest bog in southern Ontario. Mer Bleue Bog is over 7,700 years old and provides habitat for many species of regionally rare and significant plants, birds and other wildlife.
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Our latest family outing brought us to Mer Bleue Bog Trail. This has been on my Ottawa Bucket list for a few months now since I discovered a handful of amazing local photographers on Instagram and starting writing down all of the amazing locations they were shooting at.
Read along carefully as I will be pointing out a few errors and mishaps on our day trip that caused the children (and myself in turn) to melt down out of sheer frustration. But that’s what happens when you are stuck in the house for 3 months with no end in sight.
Mer Bleue Bogs Trail
Mer Bleue Bogs Trail is 1.3 kilometres of elevated boardwalk extends out into the Mer Bleue Bog with interpretive panels that provide information on this special ecosystem. Trail 53 and 53A form a 7.1 km loop, along the edge of the peatlands, suitable for hiking and skiing.
There are two parking lots that can be used to access the boardwalk.
At first, I wanted to walk the longer route and stopped at P21 just off of Anderson Road. This proved beautiful, but a bit too underwhelming and long for the children, so we doubled back and jumped back in the car.
Restarting the GPS, we parked at the parking lot P22. We got there by continuing down Ridge Road until it basically ended at the parking lot. At this parking lot, there are washrooms and a picnic area available as well.
From P21, the trail was flat, kinda sandy and we could hear the cars from the nearby road. This didn’t feel like “the great outdoors” so much as the woods behind our house. This trail alternates between forest and more open, grassy fields as it travels towards the Mer Bleue Bog.
The footing on the trail also changed as we walked along, from gravel, to dirt, to grass, and back again at times. The trail is really well maintained, and any area that looked like they might get wet at different times of the year had mini boardwalks built over top of them.
The boardwalk itself was super sturdy for the entire length of it. In areas where the water was deeper, there were rails up, but in areas where we were travelling over firmer ground, there was just the pathway through the bog. There were also panels along the boardwalk that gave you some information about the area.
The Boardwalk loop itself is only 1.3 km around. There is a sign where you can splinter off onto the 53 trail which will lead you back to P21. I have heard that the way back along the trail is less impressive than the way up.
This is where I tell you what I did wrong and where you can learn from these mistakes.
1 – Parking in the wrong lot.
There are countless signs for parking lots and none of them are very descriptive. And it’s hard to see them in the distance so unless you know where it is, you will be on top of it before your GPS tells you to enter the lot.
Having been driving around for an hour (a mistake from earlier in the day, not relavent to this story), I was in a rush to park and finally start our adventure. If only I had listened to my GPS, I wouldn’t have parked at P21. I say this everytime and everytime I ignore my own advice; Never argue with the GPS!
2 – Wearing the wrong shoes
Since I planned on doing the 1.3 km trail and not the 7.5 km trail, I wasn’t wearing the right shoes. This wasn’t a problem during the hike, but my feet are sore hours later and I will feel it in the morning.
3 – Insisting we keep going
This didn’t last long. Once I realized that we were at the wrong parking lot and were taking the long way to the boardwalk, I tried to get the kids to keep going. They had walked over 10 km/day everyday for 3 years over seas but they were rusty since coming back to Canada and even more so with the Covid lockdowns.
We got maybe 10 minutes more out of them before I decided it was time to turn back. Sadly, this was 10 minutes too late because I had to hear one complain she was tired while the other moaned “this is boring” the whole 30 minutes back to the car.
4 – Attempt to recover the trip
Because I wanted to see the boardwalk, I insisted that we simply drive up to P22 and finish the trip from there.
We did the initial boardwalk, but once they hit the forest they were done. They thought it was a trick to walk in the woods some more and they wanted to go home.
Technically, mistake #4 was not bringing enough snacks since we were now approaching lunch time… and you can never have too many snacks. I think if I was able to feed them, they would have been ok with walk more.
We will try again in the fall when the leaves have turned… or I’ll go alone when they are in school and it’s won’t matter how far I walk.
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