Mud Lake: connect with nature without leaving the city

Photos by Mckenzie Donovan

If you enjoy walking the trail that borders the Ottawa River but are looking for a "goose free" alternative (err. . .  and their droppings too!), head to Mud Lake. Located between the Ottawa River and Britannia Village, near the Britannia Yacht Club, it is a place to connect with nature without having to leave the city limits. The NCC conservation area’s main trail wraps around the lake and makes up a large part of the park. Observation decks dot the edge of the lake and allow for a view of the whole area.

Mud lake is a self-contained swampy looking lake that is a unique wetland ecosystem in Ottawa. It is an part of a larger area deemed by Nature Canada as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas of Canada. According to the National Capital Commission visitors can spot hundreds of different birds species, such as the common chickadee, wood ducks with their fantastic Mohawk feathers, woodpeckers, wild turkeys, and blue herons. But birds aren't the only reason to go to Mud Lake: painted turtles swim in the lake and sun themselves on logs sticking out of the water — they range in size and age from hatchlings to large seniors — all of them with vibrant colours; snapping turtles sit atop beaver lodges; squirrels and chipmunks with little fear of people dart by with bold curiosity; rabbits sit and eat in the open without fear of their human guests.

With no dogs allowed in the conservation area, the wildlife seem so calm and friendly. Although the rules seem somewhat strict, they help make it a truly unique experience in the Ottawa area where you can get much closer to nature. The NCC asks not to feed the animals, however, the chickadees and even woodpeckers must be accustomed to receiving seeds because they landed on my hand after standing idle for only a few moments.

If you enjoy taking photos of wildlife there is also a Facebook group called Friends of Mud Lake where regular visitors post their most recent snaps of the creatures the spot, most are of excellent quality.

Nature lovers can also find rare plant species walking the trail. During a recent hike, the vibrant turquoise and violet shoots sprouting up out of the ground resembled something fantastical from a Dr. Seuss book.

With a sense of harmony between its peaceful flora and its vibrate fauna, Mud Lake is a lovely and relaxing place to go. It is a therapeutic change of pace that makes it a perfect getaway from our Covid-19 world. With all the gyms and sports centres closed and less to do because of the lockdown a visit to Mud Lake is a good exercise alternative and a great way to find some mental relaxation during these trying times. Mud Lake is also completely free, so if you can go check it out.