Combined with adjacent areas, McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve and Darlington Provincial Park, Second Marsh provides access to nearly 400 hectares of accessible waterfront open space. Through its extensive trail system, Second Marsh offers many recreational activities, including access to the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail and Greenway. Throughout the area, self-guided walks are enhanced by a well-maintained trail system, way-finding signs, viewing decks and interpretive signs.
The urban location of the Second Marsh Wildlife Area makes it easily accessible to residents of Oshawa, the rest of Durham Region and the entire Greater Toronto Area. It is linked to the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail, which is a significant provincial and national resource. Within the Marsh is a system of trails and boardwalks that provide access to diverse habitats of the area and viewing decks provide panoramic views of the wetland and its inhabitants. Birdwatchers will enjoy a visit to Second Marsh at any time of the year, especially during the spring and autumn migration periods. Wildlife watchers and artists will also appreciate the landscape features and seasonal colours of the area.
We advise visitors to the east side of the Second Marsh Wildlife Area to avoid open-toed footwear and to tuck pant cuffs into their socks due to the observation of the European Fire Ant(Myrmica rubra) on properties adjacent to the marsh.
We also suggest some precautions to avoid ticks and tick bites such as wearing light coloured clothing so you can spot ticks faster, wearing closed footwear with pants tucked into socks and long sleeve shirts tucked into pants. Also use a repellant that has DEET on clothes and exposed skin.
Along the trails at Second Marsh visitors will find 26 interpretive signs. The signs beautifully illustrated by wildlife artist Judie Shore, educate trail users about natural and heritage features of Second Marsh.
Waterfront Trail (Ed Kroll Memorial Walkway)
The 1.25km section of the Lake Ontario Trail and Greenway that extends along the west side of Second Marsh is known as the Ed Kroll Memorial Walkway, named after Ed Kroll, long-time head of waterfowl banding. The trail is paved, is wheelchair accessible and is ideal for walking or cycling. Entrances to the trail are located off Farewell Street and Colonel Sam Drive.
There is no parking available at the Farewell Street entrance. Limited on-street parking is available at the north end of the link as it exits onto Colonel Sam Drive. This is the entrance most used by the general public.
Located along the Ed Kroll Memorial Walkway is Scott’s Pond. Named after Oshawa’s premier naturalist, George A. Scott, this is an excellent spot to watch for turtles, rails and herons. Also in the vicinity is a snake hibernaculum, explained through an illustrated, interpretative sign.
Further east along the trail is a bridge, sponsored by the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, that takes you into the Ghost Road Bush, over to the Beaver Pond.
Another feature located along the Ed Kroll Memorial Walkway is Scattergood’s Pond, named after the family that once owned it. Their knowledge of the area provides us with a valuable historical perspective on the Marsh. A viewing deck here provides good opportunities to observe waterfowl, turtles, muskrats and various aquatic plants. Continuing along the trail also provides excellent views of the Marsh.
Ducks Unlimited Canada Viewing Platform
Also along the Walkway is a viewing mound that is ideal for bird watching and absorbing the beauty of the Marsh. It is wheelchair accessible and provides a good panoramic view of the Second Marsh and the eastern shoreline.
Raised Viewing Deck/Harmony Pond
Located just east of the Colonel Sam Drive entrance, which is situated opposite the SECOND MARSH WILDLIFE AREA road sign, is a raised viewing deck. It overlooks the junction of Harmony and Farewell Creeks and delivers a panoramic view of “Harmony Pond”. This is a prime spring and autumn habitat for waterfowl, waders and shorebirds.
Bob Mills Boardwalk (Closed until further notice)
This trail is 1340m in length and is predominately a raised boardwalk. Located along the trail are small woodland ponds that offer breeding sites for amphibians. During peak migration periods, in the spring (April – May) and autumn (September – October), this woodland is an exciting place to view warblers, vireos, thrushes and other songbirds. Also along the trail, the forest floor is covered with Trout Lillies, May-apples, Trilliums, Jack-in-a-pulpit, and Yellow Lady’s Slipper.
Constructed by volunteers under the supervision of Friends of Second Marsh staff, the Bob Mills Boardwalk (named after our founding Chair) provides a suitable travel surface through a sensitive area that protects unique wetland features. With the help of volunteers broken boards are replaced annually along with any other issues.
The trail leads to the Beaver Pond. A short walk through the woodland leads to the Marshland Trail, which is located in the adjacent McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve.