Manitou Mountain Trail

On Saturday April 20, 2013 - Renfrew County Natural History Day – a large group of naturalists followed Daryl Coulson of the MNR up one of the trails on Manitou Mountain near Calabogie to view an exceptionally large butternut tree. Not having seen much of the mountain that day, I returned to the area with John Almstedt on Friday May 10 to explore further.

The website of the Township of Greater Madawaska has a Manitou Mountain Trail map copies of which were helpfully provided at the Barrett Chute Road trailhead where we started our walk. This was the same trailhead we used on Natural History Day, and is the start of the blue-blazed “Manitou Mountain Trail”.

The trail goes within about 50 meters of the base of a steep escarpment where we’d seen the champion butternut three weeks earlier. However, owing to a stretch of warm weather (highs in the mid-20s) during the previous week many of the trees were nearly in full leaf and I was unable to spot its trunk again and have no photo (though many were taken on April 20).

We came to a wooden footbridge where the trail crosses a stream running off the mountain and down into Calabogie Lake. The stream is in a valley with mature trees, open enough for easy walking, so John and I decided to follow it up the mountain rather than take the longer route along the trail.

We came upon the red-blazed “Wendigo Way” trail and turned left (south), heading towards the Red Arrow Rock lookout. Near the top of the mountain we came to a steeper portion where the hardwoods (beech, maple basswood, birch, etc.) were replaced by conifers (hemlocks, white and red pine) on the left side of the trail.

Along the way we saw the yellow-flowered Barren-Ground Strawberry (Waldstenia fragarioides),

the white-flowered Common Strawberry (Fragaria vesca),

and the blue-flowered Hooked Spur Violet (Viola adunca).

Views at the Red Arrow Rock Lookout are very nice.

A garter snake was lounging in a crack in the rocks among the early-flowering blueberries.

We went around a short loop on the “long way” trail and accidentally started back down the Wendigo Trail. There are no trail signs, only blue blazes (Manitou Mountain Trail) and red or orange blazes (all other trails). Fortunately we got ourselves turned around, and headed off for the Manitou Mountain lookout. The trail was rocky, with lots of junipers, including this bush with an interesting orange-coloured fungus infection.

Black chokecherries (Aronia melanocarpa) were flowering among the junipers.

Interesting how an upturned stump from a blown-over tree is still resisting decay, when absolutely no sign remains of the trunk, which presumably landed on the ground and provided a moister habitat for wood-decaying fungi.

The section of the Manitou Mountain trail along the top of the escarpment overlooking Manitou Lake is particularly scenic. Here’s a view of the lake:

One has to admire the tenacity of this maple growing in a crack on the rocks at the top of the escarpment:

Although the trail map gives names to the various water bodies in the Manitou Mountain area, these are not found on the Renfrew County GIS. We came down off the ridge to “Wolf Howl Pond” which proved to be a swampy area full of wildlife – birds (mallards, geese, warblers, goshawk), beavers, etc.

We returned to the car via the “Indian Pass Trail”, featuring morels

And red trilliums (big leaves to catch as much sunlight as possible before complete canopy closure

along a series of small beaver ponds.