There are some hikes that you will take in your lifetime which will evoke a ‘wow’ response – Meadowlily Woods Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) in London, Ontario, is one of these locations.
Several key players are involved in the management and preservation of the Meadowlily Woods area – the Friends of Meadowlily Woods (FOMW) is a not-for-profit community association that organizes events and meetings related to protecting and improving the natural space; the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) manages about 44 ha of the land; and the Meadowlily Nature Preserve, located along the west side of Meadowlily Road, is managed by the Thames Talbot Land Trust (TTLT).
Some of the natural and cultural features in Meadowlily Woods, which have been meticulously preserved by these organized conservation efforts, include:
- Over 60 archaeological sites, especially along the Ingersoll Moraine, spanning 11, 000 years of prehistory and including everything from camps to villages (UTRCA, 2014)
- Some specific cultural features include the heritage-designated farm house known as the Park Farm (built in 1848); the Meadowlily Mill (c. 1827); and the Meadowlily Bridge, which turned 100 years old in 2010 (UTRCA, 2014; FOMW, 2014)
- The Meadowlily Nature Preserve is a 5.9 ha site comprised of floodplain, open meadow, and upland forest (TTLT, 2014)
- Along the 4 km of trails in the main portion of Meadowlily Woods, hikers can expect to see marshes, floodplain woods, old fields, shrub thickets, mature woodlands, active and retired agricultural fields, and lovely views of the Thames River (UTRCA, 2014)
- A wide range of tree species exist in the area – for example, Basswood, Hackberry, Eastern Hemlock, and Yellow Birch – along with wildflowers such as Evening Primrose and Great Lobelia (UTRCA, 2014)
- Many wildlife species also call the natural area home; for example, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Beaver, Eastern Redback Salamander, and a collection of butterflies and moths (e.g. Hickory Hairstreak) (UTRCA, 2014)
The natural area is located in east London near Commissioners Road and Meadowlily Road, east of Highbury Avenue (there is some parking at the City Wide Sports Park, shown in the Google Map below). The main access point is on Meadowlily Road, however – see the map of the trails and access points here. I hope you will consider visiting the Meadowlily Woods area for a hike sometime soon, as it is sure to be worth the trip!!
The two pictures, below, are courtesy of Gary Smith – one of the staunchest and most passionate defenders of the Meadowlily Woods area.