The Deep River area has a lot to offer the naturalist who also appreciates a beautiful landscape. Situated on the south shore of the Ottawa River, the town is surrounded by forest that is mixed coniferous/deciduous. Rivers, beaver ponds, small lakes and nature trails offer canoeing, hiking, biking in summer and skiing in winter.
We are concentrating on the trails of the Four Seasons Conservancy (FSC), situated in east end Deep River, but other great opportunities for exploring nature exist in the area (see bottom). To access the FSC, turn towards the Ottawa River on Banting Drive just east of the town of Deep River, then turn right on Balmer Bay Road. The chalet (see map link below) is 600 metres on your right, and you may want to park here and make this your starting point. The FSC extends on both sides of Balmer Bay Road (see map of the trails, below).
The FSC, sometimes called the Four Seasons Forest, offers a web of trails, used in winter as ski trails maintained by the Deep River Cross-Country Ski Club, but available in summer as an excellent way to explore the 1,000 acre reserve. The map of the trails seems complicated, but represents connecting loops and is essential to have along in the FSC. There may be some flooded areas which will force you to retreat, especially near the Ottawa River in spring and early summer. Surveys of the flora and fauna from this 400 hectare reserve have created impressive lists of birds, plants, dragonflies and other species. There are many good destinations including Cranberry Lakes, King's Road to Kennedy Creek and Miami Beach North.
In Cranberry Marsh, in mid July there is open water with islands of vegetation. Wetland habitat types include: a large cattail marsh; a border of low shrub shore fen with Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), Sweet Gale (Myrica gale), Marsh Cinquefoil (Potentilla palustris) and Speckled Alder (Alnus incana) at the north end as well as areas of open water marsh with emergent vegetation such as Water Smartweed (Polygonum amphibium), Fragrant White Water-lily (Nymphaea odorata) and Bulhead Pond-lily (Nuphar variegata). A good variety of skimmers (dragonflies) will be seen.
King's Road will give you access to to a couple of fields in the south part of the FSC. These are east of the Kennedy Creek Bridge (I call the 'square' field) and west of the bridge (I call the 'triangular' field). Listen for Alder Flycather, Golden-winger Warbler and Yellow Warbler. Kennedy Creek is a significant feature in the FSC. Although the creek is narrow in places, the flat topography as it flows from Banting Road a distance of 2 kilometres southeast, contributes to an extensive wetlands complex. Virginia Rail, Sora, American Bittern, Belted Kingfisher, Wood Duck, Common Yellowthroat and Swamp Sparrow are possible. The Creek turns north after this and flows over beaver dams. After these, the elevation drops and the river goes through some picturesque rapids. Along this stretch, listen for Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Northern Parula, Great-crested Flycatcher, Wood Thrush and Black-throated Blue Warbler.
Kennedy Creek spills over a last beaver dam before it enters the Ottawa River in Welsh Bay. The wetland types in the bay include: open water marsh (June) with Seven-angled Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum); emergent shoreline which later (August) becomes covered with unusual vegetation, such as Inverted Bladderwort (Utricularia resupinata), Flat-leaved Bladderwort (Utricularia intermedia) and Slenderleaved Agalinis (Agalinis tenuifolia var. macrophylla); a marsh type featuring bulrushes; a low shrub shore fen featuring Sweet Gale (Myrica gale); thicket shrub with Speckled Alder (Alnus incana var rugosa); and Silver Maple and Cattail (Typha latifolia) marsh with standing dead wood. Watch for Great Blue Heron, Wood Duck, Wilson's Snipe, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Kingbird, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Common Yellowthroat as well as hunting raptors. Reference: http://www.ottawavalley.travel/naturalist-guide