Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area (Catfish Creek Conservation Authority) – Review 2022
In the heart of Elgin County, on a quiet country road rests the unassuming paradise of Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area. Nestled almost squarely between the four corners of St Thomas, Port Stanley, Aylmer, and Port Bruce, Yarmouth is just a quick drive away for many and well worth the effort of finding. This hidden gem highlights Elgin County hiking at its finest, and is open all year round for you to explore.
What is Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area?
Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area is maintained by Catfish Creek Conservation Authority, a local non-profit seeking to conserve and restore the beautiful natural habitats that are vital for this land and for the diverse species that exist here. Yarmouth is made up of over 200 acres of lush Carolinian forest, marshy wetland, natural ponds and of course, the long and winding Catfish Creek.
What is there to do in Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area?
Hike the Trails
There are seven marked trails leading along different parts of the heritage area, beginning from either of the two access points and small parking lots along Sparta Line. One trail traces the perimeter of the Herb Kebbel Wetland, and others meander further into the forest or along Catfish Creek. The map of the trails located at the entrance to the heritage area make for easy planning, and the signs along the way help hikers to stay on track. Visitors can easily plan their hike according to their own needs and comfort levels, as there are various loop options.
We spent about an hour and a half exploring the trails here. We ran into a few other hikers and swimmers who were looking for a more relaxing place to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Yarmouth is a great thing to do in the summer with kids as an alternate to the busy nearby beach of Port Stanley.
Visiting in the summer, we were instantly struck by how lush and diverse the nature was here. Visitors will enjoy birding, fishing and listening for the sounds of the frogs in the marshy wetlands. Yarmouth is one of Elgin County’s birdwatching hot spots, with almost 100 different species of birds and various amphibians spotted here.
Fishing, Canoeing & Kayaking on Herb Kebbel Wetland Pond
The Herb Kebbel Wetland offers great fishing and kayaking or canoeing opportunities – that is, if you’re willing to make the half kilometer portage from parking to the pond! The best place to park to access the Herb Kebbel Wetland pond is to park at the east access point (the gravel parking lot just past the single-lane bridge). Hike for about 500 meters along the East Access Trail until you reach the large sign for the Herb Kebbel Wetland.
Cross-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing in Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area
During the winter months, Yarmouth’s trails are excellent for skiing and snowshoeing. The quiet, pristine trails meandering by the icy Catfish Creek make for a magical winter wonderland and a peaceful escape from the city.
Is Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area free?
There is a $3 donation fee requested of visitors to the conservation area, which runs on the honour system. Visitors can pay in the yellow drop box at the entrance to the trails.
Other Catfish Creek Conservation Areas
Springwater Conservation Area
Catfish Creek Conservation Authority also maintains the popular Springwater Conservation Area, 7.5 km southwest of the town of Aylmer. Springwater is known for seasonal and overnight camping, with its camping season running from Victoria Day and Thanksgiving. There are 264 campsites, including serviced and non-serviced options split between the East and West Campgrounds.
Hiking, cycling, fishing, boating, swimming, snowshoeing and cross-country (Nordic) skiing are popular activities in Springwater Conservation Area.
Archie Coulter Conservation Area
Catfish Creek Conservation Authority also maintains the Archie Coulter Conservation Area located on Brouwers Line, Aylmer. Visitors can enjoy hiking, fishing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing the quiet forested trails.
Our Wrap-Up: Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area – Review
While our adventure to the Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area was spontaneous and unexpected after stumbling upon it on our drive from London to Port Bruce, it was nothing short of a marvelous surprise! Next time you’re visiting historic Sparta, the purple fields of Steed and Co. Lavender Farm, or one of Elgin County’s bustling beaches, pull off on the peaceful country road of Sparta Line, just past the old bridge, and take a walk through this beautiful forest. We think you’ll enjoy it just as much as we did!