I know the Rideau Valley is a little out of 2oldguyswalking’s usual range. However, the wife has family there and I’d been watching the Perth Wildlife Reserve on my Galaxy Tab for some time. Its only 15 minutes from the wife’s sister’s place, but for various reasons we never quite got around to visiting it until last week. The reserve is at the end of the appropriately named Wildlife Rd.
It was Nov 3rd and the weather was glorious. Of course, the place was shut down for the season so it was deserted. I would suggest you start your walk on the trail to the South, opposite the main sign at the parking lot. Just to the right of the meadow observatory you’ll pass the butterfly meadow with a small pond on the far side.
The trail is wide enough for two to walk side by side and is a full loop trail with a very nice observation platform overlooking a marsh and wide open water section of the Tay marsh.
The trail to the lookout is a variety of cedar lowlands, open meadow, and mixed young forest. Yes, it’s abandoned farmland, as evidenced by rotting cedar rail fences and fieldstone fences visible all along the trail. I’ll admit I normally don’t care for that, as there’s rarely been sufficient time for the land to regenerate in my lifetime. However, when I viewed the lookout platform and started the return trail back, my wife’s brother-in-law suddenly recoiled at the sight of something. “What’s that ?!” he asked as he stopped dead in his tracks. At about the same time I noticed a garter snake on the side of the trail. Then, I noticed another … and another … then another … The ground was writhing with snakes ! I quickly whipped out my camera, hit “video” and started recording. Of course, nothing came of it. It was one of those “dreaded by photographers moments” when … try as you might … it ain’t gonna show up so forget it, put the camera down, and experience it with your own eyes.
For all the way along the side of the river after the lookout, there were piles of rocks from the clearing of the land. Obviously these snakes were using them as hibernaculums. The rare Eastern Black Ratsnake is reputed to be here too, though no such luck spotting any past the dozens of Garters (and likely Ribbon) snakes.
As fascinating as these piles of rubble can be, they’re also very slippery in wet weather and very hard on the ankles if you’re not watching your feet. The trail has a few well positioned picnic tables and the educational plaques are plentiful and well maintained. We scared up a grouse or two on the return trip from the lookout.
The Final Take
The Perth Wildlife Reserve CA trail is a diverse, picturesque, and well maintained walk with no hills whatsoever. The trail is easily followed and can be taken by at least two persons side-by-side for it’s entirety. Once past the Lookout, the footing may require some attention for awhile, but the trail levels out again before too long, so it’s no big deal. There was a $6.00 per vehicle day pass fee which (though it was closed for the season) we paid anyway.
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