***Please click on this link Map Locations of ALL Trails on this Site to view a map with the location of every trail “2oldguyswalking” has written a review on.***
McLAUGHLIN BAY WILDLIFE RESERVE TRAIL REVIEW
Yes, the trailheads are accessed from GM’s head office parking lot less than half a kilometer from the 401 in Oshawa. The most unique trail accesses we’ve seen yet. This link will open Google Maps at the trailhead we started from to do our review : https://goo.gl/maps/jj2b8pJ4rF8Qq63w5
We first visited this site about five years ago, and returned last week to re-assess the trail system. We were pleasantly surprised to find it muchly improved. Yes, there is some traffic sound and in January, some surrounding buildings were visible. However, as you continue down the trails the sound of traffic is drowned out by the lake, and the distance. In the Summer months, the foliage mutes the sound in the early parts of the trails and blocks most of the buildings from view.
Unfortunately, dog walking is not permitted on these trails. The wetlands surrounding them are sensitive environments and dogs are viewed as a potential threat.
I usually assess each trail individually on a multi-trail location like this. However, there are 12 named trails here and most are very short with self-explanatory names. Despite what the maps show, the Ghost Rd Bush Woodland/Boardwalk has been closed to the public for quite awhile (and will likely stay closed). The Marshland trail’s North end (formerly leading to the boardwalk across the North end of the wetland) has been closed as well. I’ve calculated about five kms of trails total. The following pictures for this review are a blend of the Summer shots we took five years ago, and the Winter shots we took just last week.
We began from the West parking lot access. The first thing we noticed was the welcoming committee. We hadn’t taken twenty steps before being approached by a flock of chickadees who seemed very familiar with humans. I usually have a peanut or two in my pockets for just such an occasion. I fished a couple out and they were gone in seconds. So we hurried back to the car for more. For the rest of the two hour walk, we had a constant chickadee escort.
All trails are wide enough for two to walk side by side and are level and clear. The Dogwood trail is designed for the visually impaired and some trails from the East access could even be wheelchair friendly. While the rest of the trails are mostly level, the trail base isn’t specifically designed for wheelchairs like The Carstairs Trail.
Of course, the whole reason for these trails is the bay, wetland, and the lake. Any one of which is visible at any time along your walk. There are numerous interpretation signs, which I found interesting and informative. The lookout on the Marshland trail is a little worse for wear but still functional. From the lookout, the trail on the berm heading Northwest (past the long narrow pond on your right) goes nowhere. It used to go to a boardwalk that led across to another trail on the far side of the wetland. It now ends at the wooded area where a “trail closed” sign warns of the danger of falling trees. We walked that boardwalk years ago and it was in rough shape then. So it’s probably long rotted away by now.
There was limited wildlife present during our visit, the chickadees, hawk, and flocks of geese notwithstanding. However, there were deer tracks, tufts of rabbit fur, and what appeared to be dog waste but containing way too much fur to be a domestic variety of canid. So there’s a lot of potential wildlife sightings to be made. And that was in the dead of Winter. There’s a turtle pond with a man- made nesting area that I’d like to see in action. As well, there was a meadow that looks freshly “plowed” with a sign explaining that come Spring, volunteers will be planting rare species of wildflowers there.
The Final Take
Not the usual “out in the middle of nowhere” type of place we usually frequent , yet, we saw so much that impressed us, we’ll be returning in the Spring to look it over again. The trails are wide and level and very well marked. The cleanliness of the trails in such an urban environment blew us away. The parking (right in GM’s employee parking lot) is at no charge. There are no facilities save a coupla picnic tables near the lake, and on the Beaton Loop Trail. The photo ops are obvious in any season. The trail length around the bay is 5.3 kms (thanks Kevin McAvoy). As well, though the trails are clearly marked with “No Dogs Allowed” signage, many people walk their dogs on a leash anyway. The concern is that dogs running loose might upset the wetland wildlife.
There is what appears to be another trail on Colonel Sam Dr. leading into the wetland, but it’s a paved bicycle trail that just turns West and runs into Farewell St. The only McLaughlin Bay trails worth walking, are from the GM employee parking lot.
Have a nice walk,