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.
Birding at Cranberry Marsh
Listen to the sounds of nature and take your time as you explore the tree-lined trails of Cranberry Marsh in Valemount. Walk or bike the paths, climb the two viewing towers or paddle around the marshland. Climb the first tower and look around. This is the spot where 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.
Listen to the Wild
As you meander through Cranberry Marsh, stop and listen. Enjoy nature’s soundtrack to your marsh adventure as you hear the calls of hawks, eagles, and owls. Listen closely for swifts, woodpeckers, sandpipers, finches, vireos, and flycatchers. Eavesdrop on the conversations of the chickadees, bluebirds, warblers, geese and ducks. This is the music for your day on the marsh. Let it wash away your stress and replenish you.
As you wander along you may see nesting tunnels and islands engineered for the birds to safely lay their eggs. Look closely and you’ll see several water control dykes. Embrace the quiet tranquility of a marsh which is all that remains of a glacial lake. Still your mind and watch as the quiet waters slowly ripple and reflect the peaks of nearby mountains.
There are over 140 species of birds that lay-over here along the 6-kilometre (3.7 mile) black spruce, willow, aspen and poplar spruce lined path. These are the birds that migrate along the Rocky Mountain Trench that stretches from Montana to the Yukon – a part of the Pacific Fly Way.
The R.W. Starratt Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in Valemount, BC, the R.W. Starratt Wildlife Sanctuary is a natural oasis for hiking, canoeing and bird-watching in the North Thompson Valley. The trail is best accessed from the Valemount Best Western. Look around you. This is the place where the Cariboo, Monashee and Rocky Mountains collided eons ago.
Learn About the Marsh
As you wind through the sanctuary you’ll find 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. Magical marsh moments are best experienced at sunrise or at dusk in spring or in the fall.
Keep an eye out for mule deer, moose, and even bears. Smaller mammals such as beavers and muskrats can be found throughout Cranberry Marsh. They help maintain the fragile balance of this environment.