One Spring day a few weeks back, we visited Mountsberg Conservation Area in Campbellville, Ontario. Although Mountsberg is in the same group of Conservation Halton parks as Crawford Lake, it is an entirely different outdoors experience. Not only does Mountsberg have lake views and trails, but there is a birds of prey section, a barn with farm animals, and it is a paradise for birdwatchers.
We started the day with a picnic by the lake. We brought an assortment of lunch goodies, including some delicious vegan marshmallow treats that Justin picked up at one of our favourite local grocery stores, Organic Garage. It was so peaceful sitting at that picnic table right in front of the lake, with a view of ducks and Canada geese swimming around. It was also a beautiful sunny day, which made it ideal for a picnic!
After a healthy (and filling!) lunch, we walked across the parking lot to the Raptor Centre. We were able to see many interesting birds of prey that live naturally in the wild in Southern Ontario. These birds are not merely on display for our own amusement. From the Conservation Halton website:
Tucked within Mountsberg Conservation Area, the Mountsberg Raptor Centre is currently home to 15 different species of native birds of prey. Many of the Raptor Centre’s resident birds of prey have permanent injuries that have left them incapable of surviving on their own in the wild. In many cases, these injuries were caused by human activity. With the help of these feathered ambassadors, the Mountsberg Raptor Centre teaches the community about the native birds of prey that share our environment and how to reduce the negative impact we can have on them.
We saw vultures, hawks, eagles, falcons and owls up close and personal! Some of the birds were flying around a little bit, while others were fairly used to being in the presence of humans. If you visit the conservation area on a weekend or during July and August, you can even enjoy a birds of prey demonstration! For more pictures, scroll down to the gallery at the bottom where you can see many more birds of prey!
Our next order of business was visiting all of the adorable farm animals that were enjoying a sunny day outdoors! There were goats, baby goats, sheep, lambs, and chickens all hanging out together – enjoying some tasty hay or taking a little frolic in the sunshine. The goats especially loved getting some attention from us! When we moved around the fenced off area, they often followed us around for some more scratches and love. The sheep were a little bit more apprehensive but with a little patience, they also approached us from some affection.
We spent a good amount of time interacting with the farm animals because they were just so darn adorable! I probably could have spent all day there if we hadn’t planned to go for a walk around the trails. Just for good measure, some more pics of cute animals…
After we had our share of cuteness, we embarked on our walk around the grounds. We walked behind the barns and across a set of railroad tracks towards the trails. Along the Sugar Bush Trail, there were loads of maple trees which were tapped throughout March for maple syrup. There is a maple syrup festival that happens at Mountsberg annually – we were too late in the season to enjoy it, but perhaps next year we will visit during maple season!
Using this map, we followed the “Lakeshore Lookout Trail” (Blue) which extended north along the lake. On the map, it showed two separate observation towers – one at the beginning, and one at the end of the path. Sounded pretty neat, so we decided to check it out!
We came across the first observation tower! It offered a beautiful view of the lake. It was also nice and shaded, which cooled us down as it was getting fairly warm outside. For those who partake in geocaching (we do not), there was a hidden box up in the tower!
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much more to see along this path. The part of this walk that followed closely to the lake was quite nice. Maybe it was the time of year (being springtime and all), or maybe it was due to the fact that we were walking near marshland… but it got really muddy. We weren’t really prepared for this with our footwear as we were just wearing our regular running shoes. At times, it was difficult to not get our feet caught in the muddy terrain. The walk got a little bit boring when we were hiking through what seemed like flat fields, and then we ended up quite close to the highway. Hearing lots of highway noise tends to take you out of that feeling of hiking in nature! To top it all off, there was no second observation tower…so there really was no small reward of getting another great view at the end of the hike. Oh well! Maybe next time we will follow the “Pioneer Creek Trail” (Orange) with more success!
On the hike back, we followed a different route – rather than walking through the area with the maple trees, we walked through “Swallowville”. There were tons of bird feeders that were home to a couple hundred swallows! There were small birds flying all around! Mountsberg seems to have all sorts of interesting aspects to it!
On our way back to the parking lot, we had to cross the railroad tracks again. This time, we saw a turtle that must have wandered up from the marsh to sun himself in a nice, warm spot…right on the railroad tracks! Not the greatest spot, little turtle….so I picked him up and moved him out of harm’s way, back towards the marsh!
Back at the farm area, we noticed that all of the animals were back in the barn as it was later in the day. We couldn’t resist going back and visiting them again. This time, we were also happy to see some bunnies and some horses, too! Such beautiful creatures…
We had a fantastic afternoon at Mountsberg and I would definitely recommend checking it out! It is amazing the wonderful places we find to visit in our own backyard.