Marl Lake Nature Reserve

Marl Lake Nature Reserve

Marl Lake Nature Reserve is a 256-acre property owned by MMLT in North Frontenac Township, near Ompah. It surrounds a shallow bay of Palmerston Lake (called Marl Lake), borders the Palmerston-Canonto Conservation Area (244 acres), and is near two Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs). Its wetlands contribute critical ecosystem services to the Mississippi River watershed.

MMLT plans to open Marl Lake Nature Reserve to the public for hiking and nature experiences. Until we can develop trails, informative signage, and establish a designated parking lot, the property will remain CLOSED to the public. Please stay tuned for updates on our progress!

Public Access


Trails Users' Code

Site Details

Total Area: 256 acres

Address: North Frontenac Township, ON K0H 2J0

Parking: TBD

Total Length of Trails: TBD

Terrain/Accessibility: TBD

iNaturalist: Coming Soon!


Given the approximate age of the property’s forest (75-100 years), it is estimated that the land was last logged in the 1930s. An old logging road can still be seen running east-west through the property. Agricultural activities may have taken place on the southwest corner of the property at some time in the distant past but has been long abandoned. A small number of trees (mostly deadfall) were harvested for limited personal use over the years by the previous owner and her family. They used the property primarily in winter for cross-country skiing.

To safeguard the property from future sale and development, landowner Kay Cartwright generously donated this 256-acre property to MMLT in December 2023. Marl Lake Nature Reserve will be managed to conserve biodiversity in perpetuity.

Nature Highlights

Much of the property consists of a series of forested southwest-northeast running bedrock ridges, parallel to Marl Lake, with forested valleys and wetlands in between the ridges. Elevation difference between ridgetops and valley bottoms can be 30-40 metres! The property is underlain by wide bands of Precambrian Grenville-aged (approx. 1.2 billion years old) marble and gneiss, with a small potassium feldspar-rich pegmatite on the south shore of Marl Lake. Soils are thin, and there are numerous scattered pockets of glacial till.

White Pine, Sugar Maple, Eastern Hemlock, Basswood, Red Maple, Large-toothed Aspen, and Red Oak dominate much of the canopy, with lesser but still significant representation by Ironwood, White Spruce, Balsam Fir, Eastern White Cedar, and Yellow Birch. Beech and elm species have declined rapidly due to disease.

When it comes to species other than trees, MMLT can reasonable assume that many species observed nearby are likely to inhabit Marl Lake Nature Reserve as well. This includes at least 10 species-at-risk such as Snapping Turtle, Evening Grosbeak, Barn Swallow, and Eastern Wood-pewee. We also know from the previous property owner that the wetland vegetation surrounding Marl Lake attracts a high concentration of migratory waterfowl in the spring and fall.

Stay tuned for more details on flora & fauna, hydrology, and earth science features – our field experts are planning spring surveys!