RW Starratt Wildlife Reserve
Stretch your legs on a quiet stroll beneath the cool canopy of trees at Cranberry Marsh. Practice your j-stroke, canoeing a still-water marsh. Listen closely for a song on the wind. Watch flocks of migrating birds take to the air at once. Find yourself in the shadow of three mountain ranges, where the Cariboo, Monashee and Rocky Mountains all collide. This is the RW Starratt Wildlife Sanctuary in Valemount, BC. It’s a natural oasis for hiking, canoeing and bird-watching in the North Thompson Valley.
Go Wild in the Cranberry Marsh — a Wildlife Sanctuary
The first thing you’ll notice is how quiet it is. Explore the 6-kilometre (3.7 mile) spruce and willow-lined path and get used to the quiet sounds of nature. Listen carefully and you’ll soon hear the songs of the wild. Cranberry Marsh is a key lay-over for over 140 species of birds. they migrate along the Rocky Mountain Trench that stretches from Montana to the Yukon – a part of the Pacific Fly Way. Walk or bike the tree-lined trails, gaze out from two viewing towers, or make your way around this quiet marshland with a paddle in your hands. Tune in to the sounds of nature in the marsh. Hawks, eagles, geese, ducks, swifts, woodpeckers, sandpipers, owls, finches, vireos, flycatchers, chickadees, bluebirds and warblers provide a calming soundtrack to your day.
Choose your Path
Meander the footpath winding through the sanctuary. There are interpretive signs to help you to understand the natural wonders that surround you. For a more up close and personal perspective, launch your canoe or kayak into the marsh. Paddle amongst the tall grasses and bulrushes through tight channels and open waters. The trail is best accessed from the Valemount Best Western.
Nature’s Harmony — Connect with the Environment
As you wander along the trail, observe the nesting tunnels and islands engineered for birds to safely lay their eggs. Look closely and you’ll see the various water control dykes created here. Discover the open waterways created for the diverse species to live harmoniously.
Embrace the peaceful tranquility of the marsh. What remains of a glacial lake are now quiet waters slowly rippling, reflecting the peaks of nearby mountains. Black spruce and willows, aspens and poplars line the path surrounding the marsh, creating a cool canopy on even the warmest days. Crane your neck skyward — how many species of bird can you identify? Look down the path and out over the water. You should also keep an eye out for mule deer, moose, even bears. Smaller mammals such as beavers and muskrats can be found throughout Cranberry Marsh helping to maintain the fragile balance of this environment.
Climb the steps of the first observation tower at Cranberry Marsh and look all around. This is the spot the Rockies, the Monashees and the Cariboos converge. It’s the geological aftermath of tectonic plates colliding, forming the western half of North America as we know it.