Carp River Conservation Area in Kanata: Trail Guide

Admittedly, the trails within the city of Ottawa has surprised me this year. They are diverse, interesting, beautiful, and in abundance. #whoknew So when Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority picked up Carp River as a new Conservation Area right in the heart of city life – it was exciting. Not only is it a a nice wide and relatively flat 4km trail, but it also makes for a stunning sunset backdrop.

Carp River Conservation Area

The Low Down

  • Distance from Ottawa: 25 kms (20mins) from downtown.
  • GPS Coordinates: Unknown.
  • Address: Terry Fox Drive (at Kanata Ave). See ‘parking’ below.
  • Directions: Take the 417W and exit at Castlefrank. Take Kanata Ave (right) then a left on Goldridge Dr and a left on Insmill Crescent. Park at Insmill Park and walk along Terry Fox drive to Carp River CA. 
  • Entrance Fee: Free.
  • Parking: Park at Insmill Park at 67 Insmill Crescent, Kanata, ON K2T 1G4. It is a 500m walk to Carp River CA.
  • Trailhead: Located at Terry Fox Drive across from Kanata Ave.
  • Number of Trails: 1 main loop with 2 offshoots.
  • Total Distance of Trails: 4kms (in future, 2kms for now)
  • Elevation Gain: None
  • Washrooms: None.
  • Cell Reception: Yes.
  • Season: All seasons. 
  • Features: The winding Carp River, bridge.
  • Activities: Walking, biking, birding.
  • Dogs: Permitted on leash.
  • Suggested Stops: Carp (like the brewery, Alice’s Cafe, or other nearby hikes)
  • Nearby Hikes: You can combine this hike with other trails like South Marsh Conservation Area, Crazy Horse, Sheila Mckee Park, and Shirley’s Bay.⁠
  • More Information: Visit Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority for info and trail map.

Land Acknowledgement

These are the ancestral lands of the Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ and Omàmìwininìwag (Algonquin) people.⁠ It is important as avid hikers and stewards of the land, to acknowledge and understand the full story our surroundings along with the people that care for her, both past and present. As sourced from, if there are corrections please send to

A Little Background

Did you know the area of responsibility for Conservation Authorities are determined by watershed areas. MVCA extends from Bon Echo PP to Fitzroy Harbour! MVCA includes the following conservation areas: ⁠ ⁠

  • Mill of Kintail: Currently dressed to the nines making it the perfect holiday backdrop.⁠ 
  • Carp CA: Picture + located near Tanger Outlet Mall⁠ 
  • Purdon CA: Fully accessible, boardwalk, hundreds of wild orchids bloom every June.⁠ 
  • PCCA: A favourite hike with two vista lookouts and public beach.⁠ 
  • Morris Island CA: Accessible, looks like a group of 7 painting, and plenty of wildlife. ⁠ 
  •  Roy Brown Park: At MVCA HQ with a 500m trail and off leash dog park.⁠

What to Bring

Besides the 10 essentials and what I would normally suggest for hikes, here are the highlights for this particular hike:

  • Camera and binos: To catch the sunset and birds. 
  • Waste bag: What you hike in with, you hike out with. That’s the golden rule, and if you see anything that’s not part of nature (like food wrappers) kindly pick it up to throw out later.

Carp River Conservation Area Trail

There is currently 2kms of the planned 4km trail open to the public. Making for a nice loop of the main area around the river and habitat pond. Eventually the trail leading down to Campeau will be completed.  The trail itself is wide, mix of paved and small gravel sections, flat, and easy to walk. There is interpretive signs along the pathway. 

Carp River Conservation Area Features

This area really allows to see the winding Carp River in all her beauty. The trail is accessible in that it is flat and wide. There is a habitat pond on the north west end. The trail also features a nice picturesque bridge along the looped section with high grass areas to promote wildlife.

Flora and Fauna

The Carp  River CA is a great place to promote curiousity become a citizen scientist by using @inaturalistorg⁠ app or @team_ebird. These can be used to complete The Eco Activist Series challenge.⁠ “Consider this new conservation area as a gateway to nature; connecting the community to the pulsing vitality of riparian shorelines: wading birds, pollinators and wildflowers, basking turtles, river otters, and the seasonal rhythm of migrating birds.” – MVCA 

Suggested Stops

It’s easy to recommend Carp for shops and stops if you’d like to make this a day trip. In Carp there’s the Crazy Horse trail, Alice’s Cafe,  Ridge Rock Brewing Company, other shops and of course, the Deifenbunker museum.  

You can combine this hike with the Crazy Horse Trail, Sheila McKee Park, South Marsh Conservation Area, or Shirley’s Bay. 

Wrapping Up

It’s been a week of sunshine and although current life means sticking close to home, there are thankfully plenty of  wonderful trails and spots to ‘just be’ in nature. If you’re enjoying hiking local, try taking on a challenge from The Challenge Series and use those to discover new trails, new insights, and to add a little more joy to the year!

Have you walked Carp River CA lately? Share your insights below à la AllTrails style to keep everyone up to date on trail conditions, changes, and your feedback.