It may seem a bit strange to thank a meteorite, but if you’re ever at Foley Mountain Conservation Area in the winter, you just might. About 500 million years ago, a bus-sized piece of space rock hit nearby, creating a fault line and a drop in elevation of about 65 metres here. The result: spectacular views of Upper Rideau Lake and Westport all year long and one of the region’s best kept secrets in the winter.
Stop by this season, especially after the snow blankets the area, to see what I mean. For starters, all seven of the conservation area’s trails are open, and although they aren’t groomed for cross-country skiing, they’re perfect for snowshoeing.
If you’re just trying out snowshoes, there are shorter and flatter trails such as the Beaver Pond Trail (1.3km) or Blue Trail (3 km). If you’re looking for more of a workout, try some of the more challenging trails such as the White Pine Trail, Rideau Trail or Orange Maple Trail.
The 800-acre conservation area is also great for just enjoying the cold, crisp air and the natural winter wonderland all around you. Keep your eye out for signs of white tailed deer, foxes, rabbits and winter birds ranging from blue jays to woodpeckers to owls to ruffed grouse. The forests are packed with towering white pines, oaks and maples, as well as white and yellow birch, beech, red cedar, ash and poplar trees.
And, of course, don’t miss Spy Rock Lookout, where, in my opinion, you’ll find the best views in the region. “It’s beautiful in the winter,” says Whitman, “and gives a different seasonal view of Westport. Visitors can also see the famous Westport Christmas Tree, a red cedar that is decorated with lights at the lookout.”
Whether you prefer to glide, snowshoe or walk, there’s a trail close by, surrounded by a landscape of trees or overlooking a beautiful body of water.