Exploring Young Creek
in the Petawawa Research Forest

For several years I have wondered whether Young Creek in the Petawawa Research Forest would provide a canoeable route from Bypass Road to Hwy. 17 during the spring runoff. However, since usually there is no public access until early June, the question has remained academic.

This spring I realized that even in June, the creek was quite canoeable, both upstream and downstream of Racehorse Road. So I went exploring. On Monday, June 09 I launched at Racehorse Road and paddled upstream on Young Creek; on Tuesday, I paddled downstream. The creek provides an enjoyable paddle -- if you like marshes and small creeks -- but it does not provide a practical spring run from Bypass Road to Hwy. 17.

Young Creek

Young Creek in the Petawawa Research Forest upstream of Racehorse Road

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Upstream on Young Creek from near Racehorse Road.

Young Creek in the Petawawa Research Forest upstream of Racehorse Road

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Young Creek is a marsh environment. By mid-summer, these pickerel weeds will provide a colourful, fragrant scene, but not one that you'd like to try to paddle through. That is, I am quite sure that all of the currently open water will be clogged with vegetation.

Nuphar variegata Bullhead PondLily Yellow Cowlily Yellow PondLily along Young Creek in the Petawawa Research Forest

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In early June, the most obvious flowering plant along the creek is the bullhead lily (Nuphar variegata). The stream side vegetation is mainly Myrica gale (Sweet Bayberry) and various sedges and grasses.

Nuphar variegata Bullhead PondLily Yellow Cowlily Yellow PondLily

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Nuphar variegata, supposedly commonly known as Bullhead Pond-Lily, Yellow Cowlily, or Yellow Pond-Lily. (What I usually call it -- yellow water-lily -- is absent from the official list if names.)

rhizomes of Nuphar variegata along Young Creek in the Petawawa Research Forest

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Some disturbed bullhead lily rhizomes. It is not hard to believe that this is a very ancient and primitive plant.

Young Creek in the Petawawa Research Forest

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Young Creek upstream of Maunsell Creek. I had intended to take some pictures of the confluence of Maunsell Creek, but it just oozes in, without providing anything to photograph. Consequently, Maunsell Creek from Baseline Road does not provide canoeable access to Young Creek.

Beaver Dam on Young Creek in the Petawawa Research Forest near Bypass Road

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This is as far upstream as I went. Here I am within a few hundred meters of where Young Creek flows through a culvert under Bypass Road; I knew that I would soon run out of canoeable water so I didn't bother pulling over this last beaver dam. To reach this point, I had already pulled the canoe over several dams, without significant difficulty or even getting my feet wet.

Calla palustris Waterarum Wild Calla along Young Creek in the Petawawa Research Forest

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Calla palustris -- commonly known as Water-arum or Wild Calla. (A few seconds after taking this photo, the skies opened and I got drenched.)

Young Creek in the Petawawa Research Forest downstream from Racehorse Road

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On Tuesday, I paddled downstream from Racehorse Road. (I didn't explore downstream on Monday, because by the time I got back to Racehorse Road I was soaked. By spreading my exploration over two days, I got soaked twice.)

Young Creek in the Petawawa Research Forest

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Downstream, the marsh soon runs out and the bush closes in on the creek. There is no deep water channel here; you have to drag your canoe over the rocks. It's time to start wading.

Young Creek in the Petawawa Research Forest

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I pushed through for a ways, but as you continue downstream, the creek remains shallow and is obstructed by alders. Progress involves wading and pulling the canoe over the rocks and branches; paddling is impossible. This is as far as I went. Here I was about half a kilometer from the confluence of Young Creek and Mill Creek. I believe I could have bulled my way through but I didn't relish the prospect of then turning around and doing it all over again going upstream.

Shortly after turning around I heard the approaching thunder storm; again I got thoroughly drenched before I made it back to the car at Racehorse Road.

I enjoyed my paddle on Young Creek, but mainly because I was exploring an interesting environment that I hadn't visited before. Because the creek is obstructed downstream of Racehorse Road, it does not provide a safe or practical spring route. I also suspect that it would be pretty difficult going later in the season. I think I would only recommend this route to marsh aficionados.

Notes

According to my gps, my total round trip distance for the two days was 5.4 km. I estimate that I travelled upstream about twice as far as I travelled downstream.