Took a long walk at the Rattray Marsh Conservation area, and it was GORGEOUS. Here's some information about the area & what we saw.
... and I realize how ridiculous that sounds, now that I type it out!
Anyway, this morning my husband had to go into the city of Mississauga to do something quick at the office. We always plan these for early morning, so he can avoid any potential exposure.
I’ll usually go in with him, as it’s a 35 minute drive each way - assuming no traffic - so it’s nice to have company on the drive.
This time around, we decided to take advantage of it, and check out one of the spots on the map: Rattray Marsh Conservation Area.
It was cool and drizzly, so we were literally only going to drive up, get a feel for it, and assess for future exploration.
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail cuts right through the park - including part of Rattray Marsh - and allows for some amazing views of Western Lake Ontario.
Even with it being kind of crappy weather, our “quick look” went from “Let’s just walk to the waterfront” to “Ooh, I bet the view’s amazing from over there” (Maybe 50 meters away), to “Let’s just walk a little further”, to walking 4 km.
You know, accidentally beating my previous post-cipro record, NBD!
It was such a gorgeous walk, that I had to share! It may have been our first time there, but it’s already a favourite spot.
We walked the section of the waterfront trail that went west from Jack Darling park, through the Rattray Marsh Conservation Area, and back.
About the Rattray Marsh Conservation Area
Rattray Marsh is a nature lovers dream, and home of the last remaining lakefront marsh along the north western end of Lake Ontario, between Toronto and Burlington.
As a sensitive wetland, it’s managed by the Credit Valley Conservation Foundation, with the Rattray Marsh Protection Association - a group of community members and local residents - involved as a volunteer-run fundraising committee.
It’s a natural wetland conservation area consisting of 94 acres of lakeshore space and natural parks, including a natural cobble beach - with shingle bar rock formations, some of the largest trees in the area, a wide variety of indigenous species of plants (and bird species!)
It’s one of the last remaining baymouth bar coastal wetland areas in the region, and Sheridan Creek runs right though it.
It was an easy walk (more on that in a second), and an absolute must for anyone wanting to enjoy a bit of nature in the city!
The Rattray Marsh Conservation Area made it onto our map in the “walks with boardwalks” section, for good reason - there are well-kept, gorgeous boardwalk areas along a good chunk of the walk.
The rain made the boardwalks look so fresh and clean, and a really stunning contrast to the marsh wetland in the background.
Walking from the parking lot towards the park was a well-maintained, wide paved trail, with several opportunities to take little side trails (not paved) to get better views, or even get down to the beach.
Eventually - at the entrance to the actual conservation area - the paved trail turns into those boardwalks. Those were generally wide and flat, with the boardwalk bisected by a tree growing right through it (clearly a planned thing) in one spot.
One nice thing about the boardwalk is that it had a lot of seating area built into it. We didn’t sit down (wet!), but it definitely stuck out to me, as someone who has experienced significant disability.
Part of the trail was under construction, and we had to walk along a narrow and uneven muddy trail (bracing along the temporary fence!) for a short distance.
It was very slippery from the rain, but should be no problem at all in drier conditions.
Knoll Trail (0.3 km)
Pedestrian Waterfront Trail (1.1 km)
Sheridan Creek Trail (0.4 km)
Silver Maple Lane (0.9 km)
White Pine Trail (0.3 km)
The CVC has a SUPER handy Rattray Marsh Conservation Area Trail Map, which includes a lot of accessibility information - rest areas, distances between rest areas, grading, surfaces types, and difficulty ratings!
I LOVE when parks put out this kind of information. Major props!
We walked the Pedestrian Waterfront Trail and The Knoll Trail - we’ll definitely be back to check out the rest of them!
While I’d added it to the map specifically for the boardwalks, we quickly learned that there was much more to the area than just the wood working!
Seriously though, that boardwalk was GORGEOUS.
Rattray Marsh is absolutely packed with wildlife species - over 400 plant species, over 200 different species of birds, 26 mammals, 18 reptiles, and 11 fish species!
Obviously, it’s a popular destination for bird watchers. With that many species of birds, I’m not surprised that it’s considered one of the best places for bird watching!
Some of the birds that can be seen in the area include the Great Blue Heron, the Green Heron, and the Common Tern, and we saw a Great Egret on our walk.
I would imagine this would be a great area for photographers looking to get photos of wildlife in their woodland habitats, as well as all of the scenery in general.
It was a really beautiful walk, just a perfect morning - drizzle and all!
Planning Your Visit
Rattray Marsh Conservation Area is located right off Lakeshore Road West in the Port Credit neighbourhood of Mississauga.
Jack Darling Park is open from 9am-11pm daily, and the posted hours for Rattray Marsh Conservation Area are 8am-9pm daily.
Based on our experience, we think the best time to visit is first thing in the morning. Avoiding people is always a good idea, in our books... and that goes double when it comes to wildlife areas.
First thing in the morning was VERY quiet - the best conditions for viewing the wildlife. Also, just very peaceful.
We parked in the large parking lot at jack darling memorial park, which is right on a section of paved lakefront trail that leads right to the Rattray Marsh conservation area.
There were several parking lots in Jack Darling Park, starting close to Lakeshore Rd W, about half a km walk to the waterfront (I think!), and going right up to just a few meters from the trail.
The parking was free - and was abundant, first thing in the morning - but I would imagine it gets much busier later in the day, on nicer days, and on weekends.
The surrounding neighbourhood is made up of quiet residential streets, and offers some limited parking opportunities in the form of street parking.
There are minor entrances to the trail system at Meadow Wood Road, Stonehaven Drive, Green Glade Road, Silver Birch Trail, Old Poplar Row, and Bexhill Road.
There is a large building with public washrooms and what appears to be a change room in the parking lot at the Jack Darling Municipal Park.
Less than half a km from the parking lot - when heading in the direction of the Marsh - there is the Waterfront Trail Playground, which also has a large indoor public washroom.
Both appeared to be well maintained, on our visit.
There are a lot of park benches and picnic tables along the initial, paved trail - all overlooking the lake. Absolutely fantastic place to eat your lunch, overlooking the lake!
There are two playgrounds (the one with the washroom, and one in Jack Darling itself), a dog park, and a splash pad.
This was a really gorgeous walk. Very easy out-and-back walk. I didn’t have to sit at any point, but there were plenty of opportunities to do so.
I LOVED the variety of scenery and trails, and we will definitely be back!