Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area: Explore a Beautiful Wetland in Sparta

Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area

Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area was such an amazing surprise when I visited. I’d rank this one as one of the best places to hike in Elgin County, Ontario. There’s over 250 acres of forests and wetlands that’s home to many species of plants and birds. Some of this area is naturalized and some has hiking trails where you can go for a wander.

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Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area

This region is part of a Carolinian Forest in southern Ontario that also happens to have several rare species. It’s also a habitat for many at risk species, making this area an important one to preserve for native flora and fauna. There are many interesting hiking trails at Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area to check out, and I’m going to provide you with some glimpses from the trails!

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Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area Map

Here’s a trail map of Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area. The two red circles at the bottom show where you can park your car. There are two parking lots: one for the trails on the north side of Catfish Creek and one for the trails on the south side. These are the trails on the north side (I hiked these ones and they’ll be featured prominently in the article):

  • East Access Trail in light green (0.5km)
  • Kebbel Wetland Trail in red (1.4km)
  • Catfish Creek Trail in light yellow (0.9km)
  • John W.F. Palmer Trail in purple (0.7km)
Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area

These are the trails on the south side of Catfish Creek:

  • West Access Trail in dark blue (0.5km)
  • Sycamore Trail in light blue (0.8km)
  • Prairie Grasslands Trail in dark yellow (0.8km)

Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area Hiking Trails

Catfish Creek

The hiking trails at Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area are an easy difficulty rating and hikers of any skill level can attempt these paths. They’re mostly flat and follow the edge of the Catfish Creek or the Herb Kebbel Wetland. You can walk for as little or as long as you’d like as most of the trails connect in a loop.

I recommend walking on the East Access Trail from the parking lot to the Kebbel Wetland Trail that encircles the Herb Kebbel Wetland. Then, if you’d like to extend your trip, add on any of the other forested trails.

East Access Trail

 East Access Trail

Starting at the parking lot, you’ll walk on the East Access Trail until you reach the Kebbel Wetland Trail. This is a wide, rocky dirt path and you can admire scenery of the Catfish Creek on the way.

East Access Trail
East Access Trail
East Access Trail
Catfish Creek
Catfish Creek and the East Access Trail

You’ll also see some more wetlands before you reach the Kebbel Wetland Trail and the largest pond. I saw a few people setting up here with their cameras with super long lenses. I’m guessing that people do bird watching or wildlife watching here. According to eBird, 179 species of birds have been witnessed at Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area, which is pretty impressive.

Kebbel Wetland Trail

Kebbel Wetland Trail

The Kebbel Wetland Trail is the highlight of Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area. The trail wraps around a very large pond that has scenic lookout points along the way. When I visited in early June, there were so many beautiful water lilies in bloom.

Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area
Herb Kebbel Wetland
Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area
Kebbel Wetland Trail

Continue walking on the Kebbel Wetland Trail and you’ll eventually reach a forested area. From there, you can continue hiking on the Catfish Creek Trail or stay on the Kebbel Wetland Trail.

Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area
Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area
Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area

Eventually, the Kebbel Wetland Trail forms a complete loop and you’ll find yourself back at the starting point.

Catfish Creek Trail

Catfish Creek Trail

The Catfish Creek Trail is an offshoot of the Kebbel Wetland Trail, and reconnects to the Kebbel Wetland Trail at two points. This trail meanders through the forest and along the Catfish Creek Trail.

John W.F. Palmer Trail

John W.F. Palmer Trail

The John W.F. Palmer Trail connects to the East Access Trail on one side and the Kebbel Wetland Trail on the other side. I didn’t have the chance to check this one out, but it’s yet another wonderful option for hiking at Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area.

More Hiking Trails at Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area

Hiking in Elgin County

There are a few more hiking trails on the opposite side of the Catfish Creek that I didn’t get the chance to visit. These include the West Access Trail from the parking lot (0.5km), the Sycamore Trail (0.8km), and the Prairie Grasslands Trail (0.8km).

I chose the other main parking lot on the other side of Catfish Creek because it had more trails and a chance to hike around the Herb Kebbel Wetland. However, I’d love to return to check out the other trails someday, too. While I didn’t find Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area to be busy at all on a weekday afternoon, you can always venture to these southside trails for even more solitude as they are less frequented.

Plan Your Visit

Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area

There are two parking lots for Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area in Sparta, Ontario. They are on either side of the Catfish Creek and will give you access to either side of the park. I used the northern access point at 47502 Sparta Line.

Parking at Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area is free and there’s a suggested donation where you can contribute to the maintenance of the trails if you wish. There aren’t any restrooms or facilities here, so plan accordingly.

What to Bring on a Hike

A proper pair of hiking shoes is an absolute must. It’s also a good idea to bring sunscreen and lots of water, too. My water bottle of choice is the GRAYL Purifier because you can drink ANY water from any source, no matter what. Water from lakes, streams, rivers, public restrooms, you name it. It’s the world’s fastest portable purifier. Get your hands on one ASAP!

Don’t forget to pack some bug spray because there can be biting bugs depending on the time of year. Even if there aren’t any signs, it’s safe to assume that ticks are all over Ontario hiking trails. Protect yourself against ticks by reading our guide to avoiding ticks on the trails.

More Hiking Trails in Elgin County

Looking for more great hikes in Elgin County? Elgin County in Southwest Ontario has more than 100km of trails to explore. Sections of the Trans Canada Trail run throughout Elgin County (you can read more about the Trans Canada Trail in St. Thomas).

  • Archie Coulter Conservation Area
  • Big Bend Conservation Area
  • Calton Swamp Wetland Complex
  • Dan Patterson Conservation Area
  • Elgin Hiking Trail
  • E.M. Warwick Conservation Area
  • Fingal Wildlife Management Area
  • Hawk Cliff Woods
  • Hawkins Tract
  • John E. Pearce Provincial Park
  • Kirk-Cousins Management Area
  • Lake Whittaker Conservation Area
  • Port Burwell Provincial Park
  • Solitude Nature Reserve
  • Springwater Conservation Area
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