We spent last week at Murphys Point Provincial Park, near Ottawa. This was our first trip to Murphys Point, and we were expecting a nice time, based on reports from friends and relatives who've been there. We were not disappointed.
The campground itself is quite hilly, which made for some fun downhill biking. Less fun uphill biking, though. We did bike all over the park, especially down to the boat launch in the evening to see the wildlife. We went down the McParland House trail on our bikes all the way to the Lally homestead and back, about 10km. The trail is closed over a waterfall, but we slipped past the fence to do it anyways. The adults had no problem carrying the bikes across the waterfall. This time of year there is barely a trickle of water.
The campground was really quiet, except for boats racing down to the boat launch at 5:15am on the weekend. In the evening there were few campfires, and the ones that were going were quiet. Once everyone turned in for the night the wildlife took over. I was awakened a couple of nights by a parliament of owls hooting. Loons were calling to each other, and a pack of coyotes howled.
The daytime wildlife viewing was excellent. On the way into the park a tree frog decided to hitch a ride with us.
Once we were in the park, we saw tons of deer. Some were extremely friendly, including this one, who walked out of the woods in front of us to snack under an apple tree.
A porcupine family was spending time in another apple tree, in the amphitheatre parking lot. The girls wanted to adopt the baby and take him/her home. I haven't found it around the house yet, so I suspect they were not successful.
Murphys Point is in ratsnake territory. The girls were out biking one day and saw a five footer being "rescued" from someone's campsite. The snake was taken up the hill and released. The park staff told us that the snakes won't survive the winter if they're moved more than 200 metres from where they are found. Apparently they forget where their winter hibernation spot is. The only ratsnake I saw was a little one - about 18 inches long - climbing up a wall at the Lally homestead.
The canoeing at Murphys Point is great - there's a canoe rack right at the main beach, so we could walk down with the gear and paddle away without having to drive. Big Rideau Lake is, well... big. Really big. We stayed mostly in Hogg Bay where we could sneak up on turtles sunning themselves.
We did follow the canoe loop out into the big lake one day, when it was a little calmer. The loop goes out around a point into a sheltered bay. This bay has a few inlets where we managed to spot a beaver and a hawk. The hawk was not happy to see us - we heard it before we saw it. It sounded like a car alarm.
The canoe loop passes by the day use beach, so we stopped for lunch and a swim. The day beach is pretty small, but the water was warm and really clear. The main beach is larger, with the sand raked nightly. The main beach also has a small playground and a nice grassy area, where we sat in the shade to read while the kids played on the beach.
One of the highlights of Murphys Point - in fact, it's one of the Seven Wonders of Lanark County - is the Silver Queen mica mine. The park hosts a guided tour of the mine twice a week. The tour recounts stories of life at the time the mine was operational - about 100 years ago. The kids were a little bored with all the history, but they loved crawling down into the mine itself. On the way out they were allowed to pocket a small piece of mica. Just what we needed for the drive home, more rocks...
We had a rainy day on Sunday, so we headed into Ottawa. We spent the day at the Museum of Civilization in
Hull Gatineau. The kids loved it, especially the Children's Museum, naturally. V suggested dinner at an Irish Pub - very good choice for a 10-year-old, I might add. After dinner we walked down the street to the Parliament buildings.
The last animal encounter we had on the trip was just west of Kingston on the way home. A deer was standing on the shoulder of the 401, watching the vehicles zip by. Just after we passed it decided to live another day, and walked back into the woods.