Right to Ramble
Menzel Centennial Provincial Nature Reserve
Central Ontario, CanadaFor more photos of this reserve click here or on any photo
This nature reserve is about 17 kilometres north of Napanee. To get there, you can travel up Highway #41 out of Napanee. From Highway #401, head 13.5 kilometres north to Roblin. Turn east on Roblin Road and drive 7.6 kilometres to the gate of the park. If you're coming from the east or north-east, head up Shannonville Road (County Road #7) to Shannon Road (about 11.5 kilometres from #401). Head east 14.7 km on Shannon Road to Deseronto Road, where you'll turn left (north) and follow the road another 1.8 km as it turns left into Roblin Road, with the park gate on your left. It's a little more convoluted (and Shannon Road is a nice drive), but it's better than heading to Napanee and back tracking.
There are no facilities here — and there's no fee either.
Menzel park opened in 1993 and has grown from 850 acres to around 1200 acres (627 hectares). In 1974, Oivi Menzel, originally from Estonia, died at the age of 33. Her husband, Dieter wanted to do something to preserve her memory. He spent some time looking for the right place then settled on the Mud Lake area. Today, the area continues to be promoted by Dieter along with various provincial and federal government organizations.
It's in the headwaters of the Otter Creek and the Salmon River watershed. The Ontario Provincial Parks page about the reserve says it features "one of the largest examples of open and treed fen in southeastern Ontario." Fens are apparently rare in southern Ontario.
The best definition of a fen one I've found is in this document from the Ministry of Natural Resources: "Fens - Peatlands that are poorly drained, but slow internal drainage does occur. Dominant vegetation is sedges, but shrubs and sparse, short tree growth may be present. Waters are circumneutral or only slightly acid. Three basic types are found. (a) Graminoid Fen - Open, sedge covered fen, with less than ten percent (10%) cover of shrubs or trees. (b) Low Shrub Fen - Open fen dominated by shrubs such as leatherleaf and dwarf birch less than 135 cm high. c) Treed Fen - Canopy cover more than ten percent (10%), usually tamarack, and usually not of merchantable size. "
Monument to Ovil Menzel at the gate
to the park. Photo: February 15, 2005
Mud Lake, a roundish shallow lake in the middle of this reserve, is surrounded by 19 different natural habitats and you can find the nationally rare Prairie Fringed Orchid here, as well as the Olive Hairstreak Butterfly and the Copper's Hawk.
One of its major features — the fens — can make for wet walking, but the new trail makes things pretty easy.
On July 4, 2008, a new trail, 1.8 kilometres long and complete with boardwalk, was opened. Dieter and his family were there — here's a photo of him along with an article. (The park literature says the trail is 2.4 km long, but my maps and my GPS say 1.8 km; I'd say the latter are more accurate.)
Menzel Reserve is part of my eastward vishwawalking. See the bottom of the page here for more details of my February 13, 2005 walk through the fens and across the lake.
More photos of this reserve
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Walked: February 13, 15, 2005
Boardwalk section walked: February 11, 2009
Page created: February 11, 2009