One of the most outstanding features of Ottawa’s expansive and luscious Greenbelt green space is the Mer Bleue Bog.
Located towards Ottawa’s east end, this 7,700-year-old bog is host to many rare species and wildlife populations that are normally typical of northern bogs, which explains why it is designated as an internationally significant wetland and one of the most studied bogs in the world!
Here, there’s an impressive 3,500-hectare conservation area with more than 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) of scenic trails, where you’ll find cross-country ski trails in the winter months, beautiful sand ridges in the summer months and 1.2 kilometres (0.7 miles) of interpretive boardwalks nearly all year round.
Along the winding kilometres of trails, you’ll find a number of black spruce and tamarack trees, blueberry bushes, cotton grass, and plenty of ground cover. Home to many interesting plants, the bog is also host to a number of provincially significant wildlife species such as the great grey owl, the sand hill crane, the fletcher’s dragonfly, and also the endangered spotted turtle.
One of the ways to view the bog, is to hike up the six-kilometre (3.7-mile) forest trail that leads up to a sandy escarpment overlooking the bog’s landscape. Another great way to explore the area is to walk along the Mer Bleue Bog Trail boardwalk, which leads you right into the heart of the bog!
On some early mornings when the light hits the mist that lies on the wetland, it creates a blue effect that makes it seem as though you’re looking out over the sea – which is why the bog is called Mer Bleue (it means Blue Sea in French). These misty mornings are great photo opportunities!
According to the National Capital Commission (NCC), the Mer Bleue Bog is the largest bog in the Ottawa region. It is also, the NCC says, the second largest bog in southern Ontario. Get out and explore one of the city’s hidden treasures!
Also, if you’ve discovered the bog and you’d like to do some more hiking, just across the Ottawa River you’ll find Gatineau Park. Covering 361-square kilometres (90,000 acres) of wilderness, this famous park offers about 165 kilometres (103 miles) of picturesque hiking trails that vary in distance. Like the Mer Bleue Bog, Gatineau Park is a great place to spend time outdoors in any season!
Image credit: Tours Expédition Ottawa