See both of the rivers that surround Arnprior along this trail. Start along the Madawaska River as your stroll through hydro park, then get a magnificent view of the confluence of the two rivers at Bell Park, then enjoy a view of the Ottawa river at McLean beach. If you are still up for more exploring enjoy the Macnamara Nature Trail.
Total distance for this trail is 3.7 km, with the
Macnamara Nature Trail a further 4.5 km round trip
Bridges have crossed the Madawaska River in the same location since the Buchanans built the first bridge. The east side, which the McLachlin Trail explores, was the site of several McLachlin sawmills over the years.
1. Hydro Park
This park, overlooking the Madawaska River, is located just east of the bridge. In 1972 approval was given for the generating station, the creation of a 10-mile lake (both upriver at Highway 17), the four-span bridge and a new downstream weir. This weir helps to reduce soil erosion above the weir and to improve and control marine life and vegetation. Located near the island are man-made spawning beds for pickerel. After leaving Hydro Park, continue on Riverview Road through the residential area and turn left on Leo Lavoie Road to enter Bell Park.
4. Bell Park
This park was donated to the youth of Arnprior by the grandchildren of James and Kathleen Bell in memory of happy summers spent with their grandparents in this area. As you follow the trail towards the point, you will pass the Yacht Club and the Fish and Game Club. Bell Park, located at the conjunction of the Madawaska and Ottawa Rivers, has a beautiful view of the Quebec shoreline and the widened section of the Ottawa River known as Chats Lake (Lac des Chats). 1861-91 saw the height of the rafting of square timber down the Ottawa River, some of it from the former Gillies Bros. Mill at Braeside (visible to the left upstream on the Ottawa River) for export to Britain. The last Gillies square timber rafts floated in 1903. Water transport of logs continued into the 1990’s. Leaving the road to Bell Park, turn left and follow McLean Ave. along the river until McNab St. is reached.
8. Charles Macnamara
Charles Macnamara worked for the McLachlin Bros. Saw Mills and Lumber Yards, starting as an accountant in 1886 and eventually becoming secretary – treasurer of the firm. A keen naturalist and photographer, among other things Macnamara illustrated a study of beaver colonies on the Ottawa River. This research is now on display in the Royal Ontario Museum and photographs of Macnamaras are in the Arnprior and District Museum. Many of the negatives of his photos are housed in the Arnprior and District Achieves. The Macnamara Field Naturalists’ Club was named in honour of Charles Macnamara. There are booklets for the Macnamara Nature trail available at the entrance Kiosk located on McNab Street.