Trails of Petrie

vermette_trail2_2003There are some 7 km of walking paths on the islands – some are loops, some require retracing steps, for a total of 6 km (3½ miles). All are easy and offer spectacular views of the Ottawa River and quiet backwaters. They are designed for casual walking and everyone is asked to respect others who come to enjoy nature. Walk slowly and quietly in order to better observe wildlife.

We ask that you do not go past the western end of the River Loop. The western half of the island is maintained as a nature preserve, and we try to minimize human impact. Bicycles are not permitted on trails. Unfortunately, dogs are no longer permitted anywhere on the island, so you will have to leave your best friend behind.


Bill Holland Trail 2.4 km (1.5 miles) 40-60 minutes

This is the longest trail on Petrie, named for a local naturalist who did research here. It follows the gravel road beside the picnic area and passes the wildflower garden and continues along an old causeway, explaining the presence of rocks, which do not occur naturally anywhere on the island complex. Featured here are excellent views of the wetlands, quiet beaches lining the Ottawa River, evidence of beaver activity, and turtle nesting areas. Sections of the Beach Loop (off the Bill Holland Trail) and this main trail may be flooded in spring. Please exercise care in sandy areas, as they are prime real estate for turtle nests. The Beaver Loop’s eastern bend (see trail details below) goes through a rare stand of Hackberry trees.

River Loop / Beaver Loop

These trails are found near the west end of the Bill Holland Trail.  The River Loop follows the north side of the island along the Ottawa River.  Both marsh and beach are found.  The Beaver Loop goes south of the main trail, and provides views of the inner channel. The Beaver Loop’s eastern bend goes through a rare stand of Hackberry trees.

New! Lookout Loop

The city has purchased a new tract of land and we have created the Lookout Loop, another extension of the Bill Holland Trail. The rocky hill features a sumac grove, many wildflowers, and amazing vistas of the Ottawa River to the West. Please come take a look.

Return: retrace your steps or take the Beach Loop. Various loops add 320 m (1,100 ft) for a total of 2.7 km (1 3/4 miles).

Turtle Trail (short loop – 500 m, 1,700 ft) 15 minutes

A 15-minute walk that starts along an inland pond, a favourite turtle basking area, especially spring to late summer (stop at the viewing platform). The path goes across the Bill Holland Trail and follows a short portion of eroded Ottawa River shoreline on the north side of the island, through the picnic and beach area, and includes the interpretive center. Stop at the wildflower garden display and information sign on the north side of the gravel road. Follow the gravel drive to the Bill Holland (main) Trail.


Muskrat Trail (800 m, 2,600 ft) 15 minutes

This 15-minute walk starts at the parking lot nearest the picnic area and brings you to a point of land centrally located among four bodies of water separating the various islands. A good spot for seeing water birds, this trail also features an amphibian observation pond with footbridge and display.

Basswood Trail (1.5 km, 4,900 ft) 45 minutes

This 45-minute walk takes you south from the parking lot across the pond from the small craft launch dock and follows the inland waterway to the causeway, then along the eastern shore of the islands and back to the parking lot. A second loop (the Sunrise Trail) takes you all around the park/sand area, and the combined loops total 2 km (1 1/3 miles).

Sunrise (500 meters, about 5 minutes)

The Sunrise Trail continues from the causeway to the beaches along the downstream side of the island. From the end of the trail you can follow a path through the park back to the Picnic area or walk along 1 km of sandy beach which offers sunrise and sunset views and fine vistas of the Ottawa River.

Off-island trails

The North Service Road trail, about 2 km long, will eventually be connected to those of Petrie. Further west along North Service, Queenswood Forest is a unique fir forest similar to those that formed after the last ice age. They are easily accessible. Please keep all dogs on leash.