Nature Trails

vermette_trail2_2003There are 7 km of walking paths on the islands – some are loops, some require retracing steps. 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. Bill Holland Trail is closed to bicycles; a rack is provided at the trailhead. Distances and times are for a one-way walk, unless noted otherwise.

DOGS ARE PROHIBITED IN ALL AREAS OF PETRIE ISLAND YEAR-ROUND. Petrie Island is a designated conservation area.

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

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.

Panorama Loop

There is a new trail branching off toward the river just before the Bill Holland Trail gate. The rocky hill features a sumac grove, many wildflowers, and sweeping vistas of the Ottawa River.

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 – 300 m, 900 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). You may wish to cross the gravel road at the western end of this short trail and explore a stand of trees, the eroded Ottawa River shoreline on the north side of the island and the wildflower garden. The gravel road leads west to the Bill Holland (longest) Trail. There is a new nursery area on the right side of the road near the trail operations hut.

Muskrat Trail (800 m, 2,600 ft) 30 minutes (return)

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) 30 minutes (loop)

This 30-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.

Sunrise (300 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, connects with local Orleans trails through the Queenswood Forest, a unique fir stand similar to those that formed after the last ice age. They are easily accessible and further link up with the NCC trails to downtown. Please keep all dogs on leash.