For over 3 years, I’ve been visiting the Stony Swamp Area in Ottawa. It has been my go-to spot for hiking within the city’s limits. With over 40 kilometres of trails, Stony Swamp has a diverse habitat that is home to more than 700 species of plants and 251 species of birds!
These trails wind through through forests, fields, and wetlands. If you visit at the right time, you might spot a deer, owl, or coyote. Don’t let that last one scare you from visiting! These are well-trafficked trails with lots to admire and little to fear.
Hiking Trails in Stony Swamp
Beaver and Chipmunk Trail
Beaver and Chipmunk Trail is 2.6 kilometres long. I like to visit in the summer months when the trees are leafed out and the wildflowers are in bloom. I’ve seen St. John’s wort, yarrow, violet, wild carrot, milkweed, vetch, purple loosestrife, daisy, clover, rose, thistle, and others!
If you want to learn more about Beaver and Chipmunk trail, I’ve written a detailed post here.
After I got my puppy, Trail 27 became my favourite hiking spot in Stony Swamp. The trail is a mix of forests and regenerating pastures. Here’s a video of Moose and I hiking the trail.
Lime Kiln Trail
As the name suggests, Lime Kiln Trail leads to an abandoned kiln. In the summer, on less trafficked days, you can find snakes bathing on the hot stones. Some years ago, a forest fire burned through a section of the trail. Now, there are signs explaining how the area is regenerating. It’s a cool way to learn about the role of fire in ecosystems and see it yourself.
This trail is dog friendly.
Sarsaparilla Trail is universally accessible. Lots of young families visit on the weekends because it’s easy to push a stroller. It’s also a short walk, just under a kilometre. There is a boardwalk that leads to a beaver pond where you can see beaver, ducks, geese, frogs, and snakes.
Jack Pine Trail
Jack Pine Trail is made up of three interconnecting loops. Together, they make up 4.7 kilometres of trails. This is a great area to see birds! In the winter time, they are fed by the NCC and community members. I’ve seen mourning doves, chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, and wild turkeys.
What to Expect: Seasonal Advice for Visitors
Early Spring: In early spring, trails are prone to flooding. Pack your boots! This time of the year is exceptional for wildflowers. You can see trillium, Ontario’s provincial flower, lining sections of the trails. There’s also violets, spring beauties, Duchman’s breeches, and trout lilies.
Early spring mornings are the best time to see deer. It’s when the trails are less trafficked and deer are out foraging for new growth. This last spring, I was seeing deer multiple times per week!
Spring – Early Summer: Mid-spring the flooding issues subside. You’ll start encountering more mosquitoes and other biting insects as summer approaches. It’s best to cover up and bring bug spray.
But, don’t let the bugs deter you, there’s so many wildflowers to see and the migratory birds have arrived. Check out the blossoming apple trees on Trail 27 – they come out mid-May and are stunning!
Late Summer – Fall: The biting insects are finally gone and the temperatures are becoming more bearable. Now, the late summer wildflowers are blooming, including asters and goldenrod. The apples are out and you can sometimes spot porcupines snacking on them in the trees.
Winter: In the winter, the trails are open to snowshoers and skiers. If you can, visit after fresh snowfall. The forest is silent and the snow on the trees is magical. You’ll be able to see animal tracks in the snow. Note that a lot of the trails are closed to dogs from December 1 to April 14.
At the time of writing, all of these trails are free to visit and there is no cost to park at trailheads.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve visited any of the trails in the Stony Swamp Area. I’d love to hear about your favourite place or time to visit!