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Beaver Meadow Wildlife Management Area (near Picton) Lookout Trails Review
UPDATE – October 21, 2018 – Quinte Conservation Areas are now “pay to park”. It’s only a lousy $5.00, but the methods of payment are rather silly. See this link :
Then just go park on the roadside nearby.
We’d just wasted over an hour at Picton’s Macaulay Mountain, trying to find trail markers under the constant droning of light aircraft towing gliders less than thirty meters above the trees. At least they drowned out the roar of traffic. We finally gave up when, not having the slightest idea where we were, we spotted a camp tent just off the trail, and lost track of the tiny pieces of orange tape and tin can lids nailed to trees that we’d been using as trail markers. I didn’t let on to the Wife, but that tent hidden in the woods kinda creeped me out.
With those planes in mind, we returned to the parking lot where (much to my annoyance), I couldn’t find the rocket launcher I was sure I’d left in the hatchback. So, the planes got lucky and we just cleared out, vowing never to return. Fortunately, Beaver Meadow was on the way. So, despite the mood Macaulay Mtn had put us in, we took the heavily pot-holed, winding road into Beaver Meadow’s amazingly clean, free of charge, little parking lot (room for about a dozen cars).
We were almost shocked to see a relatively new CA gate with a … brace yourself … brand new, recently installed map sign ! A very wide, clear trail led us to a lovely dam holding back a gorgeous wetland.
We read the (unvandalized) interpretive sign at the dam, then eagerly returned to the base of the dam where we’d seen two trails heading to the East and West.
We chose the West Lookout Trail first. After walking over the outflow rubble base of the dam, we entered the forest and walked a short way until we hit a snowmobile path (we saw an OFSC sign on it), with another new trail map sign on a tree at the intersection. If taken to the left, this snow trail will take you back to the parking lot. Taking it to the right, we walked along the edge of the wetland through a surprisingly mixed forest. This close to a wetland, I expected nothing but scrub cedars.
Then, the snowmobile trail branched off to the left. Not far after that, we came to the West Lookout with a spectacular view of a unexpectedly large marsh. The silence was remarkable. Normally, if a turtle sees a human, at any distance, they’ll immediately dive into the water. Yet, one of the biggest turtles I’ve ever seen just sat there snapping at flies, ignoring us. The birds behaved like we weren’t there either. We dallied on that lookout for awhile, wishing it was earlier in the day so we could’ve spent more time on it. There was something about this lookout that caused me to think of it long after I’d left it. I think it was the feeling of total isolation. Usually, a Southern Ontario wetland exists because it’s too wet to build a factory &/or million dollar condos on it. Mind you, they’ll be right up to the edge of it. But here, there’s nothing. No towers peeking over the trees, no factory rumbling, no traffic noise, no scent of industry on the breeze. NOTHING.
We returned to the dam and carried on past it to the East Lookout Trail. At the first nice new map sign, there’s a trail off to the right. It led us to an old abandoned building and some foundations from an early 1900s experimental farm complex.
Returning to the Lookout trail, we continued on until the lookout showed up on our left. This one isn’t near as impressive as the West one though.
You’ll notice by the map, the Lookout trail continues going East until it hits private property. We walked it to see how far it went, and how to tell when it hit private property. We walked until we came to what appeared to be the tiniest beaver dam I’ve ever seen, across a two meter channel of water through the forest. We figured that was as good a spot as any, to turn it around.
The Final Take
Though small in size, with very short, level trails (less than 2.5 kms – one way, no loops), we found this CA to be a refreshing change from what we’re used to in the Quinte area. I wouldn’t recommend you take a multi-hour round trip to see it, but if you’re anywhere nearby, do drop in. It was incredibly clean and unabused with ample parking. The West Lookout was particularly impressive for its vistas clear of any trace of industry, and fearless wildlife. Though quite isolated, it’s not unused as all the trails are well worn and wide. There are no facilities of any kind in the parking lot nor the trails, though the bench on the West Lookout would make a lovely picnic spot. Picton is only 10 minutes away, so you could pick something up there. The silence and sense of isolation, was a major contributor to my liking of this place.
Have a nice walk,