One of the best things about the community in which we live is its proximity to the Stony Swamp area. Part of the National Capital Greenbelt, this protected area is full of walking trails where you can experience different flora and fauna as well as geology and sometimes a little bit of history. You can check out a map of the various trails (and parking locations) here.
Our favourite is the Jack Pine Trail. There are lots of birds and small animals such as chipmunks and squirrels to be seen in the forested areas, and the boardwalks across the several beaver ponds often have ducks or turtles and even on occasion a muskrat to see, depending on the time of year and the water level. The chickadees will eat bird seed right from your hand and the ducks are always happy to have you toss them some bird seed or stale bread.
Monday afternoon the sun broke through the fall dampness and we decided it was a perfect time to head out for some fresh air and family time. We parked at P9, loaded Chloe into the backpack carrier and headed out on the trail. We had barely left the parking lot behind when I noticed the chickadees flitting up to perch on nearby branches and watching us intently -- clearly they were interested in whether or not we had food for them. They're a little more skittish in summer when food is plentiful, but this time of year when they're storing up for winter they are eager to feed from the hands of visitors -- even small and wiggly children. We had lots of fun standing still, cupping birdseed in our outstretched hands and waiting to see which birds would choose to come land on our hands, and which would wait for us to give up and leave a little pile of seed on the ground for them as we continued on our way. I was impressed by Maya's patience and captivated by the delight and wonder on her face as birds came to land on her outstretched hands.
Chloe loved watching the birds Daddy tried to feed, but they gave her a wider berth as she was a bit too noisy and wiggly for most of them.
There were many ducks at the first boardwalk pond, enough to quarrel over the seeds we tossed them. (I forgot to take pictures ... oops.) After that, the trail took us through more forest where Maya looked for chipmunks and squirrels, and pointed out all the birch trees she saw, and then eventually to two marshier boardwalks. Maya was disappointed she couldn't see any frogs, but the usual frog spot was largely obscured by cat tails this time.
We recommend you check out this walking trail if you're in the area. Maya is able to walk the approximately 3 Km loop herself (she's just about to turn 4), but you could make it shorter by just walking in from the parking lot as far as the first boardwalk and then returning back out the same way. (There is a shorter loop you can do in the trail, but it misses the duck pond boardwalk.) The trail is also navigable with a jogging-style stroller. If you want a longer walk, the Jack Pine trail connects to trail #26, which adds a long loop over to P11 on West Hunt Club road and then back again.