As I grew up in Eastern Ontario, I like to think that I know the region as the back of my hand. So I’m always surprised when I hear about a place I did not know existed. This was the case when I first heard about the Carp Hills last week, hills that can be explored via a trail.
It was enough to pique my curiosity. Although I have been to Carp before (this is where the very interesting Diefenbunker is located), I did not know about the Carp Hills, and especially the fact that it was a place of significant geological and natural interest.
Located between Carp and Kanata, the Carp Hills are made up of rock formations that are part of the Canadian Shield and are one of the best examples of such formations in the Ottawa area. This particular geology has an impact on nature. The thinner, more acidic soil means that only certain types of trees and plants can grow here.
There are also ponds and bogs in the Carp Hills. The provincial government has declared the hills to be a provincially significant wetland area.
In recent years, some conservation groups have begun to fear the impact of urban sprawl on the hills. It must be said that several residential developments have sprung up in the area (Carp and Kanata being in the suburbs of Ottawa), thus increasing access to the hills. To ensure better protection, the City of Ottawa has purchased some parcels of land that an organization (Friends of the Carp Hills) is trying to highlight while promoting nature conservation. The Crazy Horse Trail is part of their initiatives.
Just over 6 kilometres long, the trail passes through the public lands of the hills and allows to appreciate its various natural and geological characteristics. It passes through a few rocky escarpments and swamps before looping around a beaver pond. I am sure that the trail is more interesting in the summer, when marshes and ponds are not covered with ice, but I still enjoyed this pretty winter walk not too complicated. Going up and down the hills on the trail makes it a good exercise!
And why is the path called Crazy Horse? The reason is so simple that it’s almost disappointing. The access point to the trail is located near the site of an old tavern called Crazy Horse Tavern. The tavern no longer exists, but the trail has kept its name (I was hoping for a story with a crazy horse in it…).
The trailhead is located at the intersection of March and Huntmar Roads. At this point, the road shoulder is wide enough to allow parking and a sign marks the beginning of trail. Orange markers indicate the way forward.