Fitzroy Provincial Park

Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: July 2021

Fitzroy Provincial Park is located just east of Ottawa along the shore of the Ottawa River. It protects a locally significant southern mixed forest region featuring white pine that initially drew people into the Ottawa Valley for logging. The park offers ample opportunities for water recreational activities, including canoeing, boating and swimming. Fitzroy also has over 200 campsites and features two short hiking trails.

We arrived at Fitzroy just after 5p.m and checked in at the Park Office to collect our campsite permit. But before setting up our tent, we decided to just hike along the two trails in the park since they were both relatively short. We might as well work for our dinner.

We first drove to the group picnic area where there’s a lookout of the Ottawa Valley and Ottawa River. There are a few interpretive panels that provide more information about the Ottawa River and its significance. For centuries, the Ottawa River served as an important transportation route for the First Nations, explorers, fur traders and loggers. It is also a major transcontinental flyway for migratory birds.

We then drove to the trailhead for the Terraces Trail (1.6km, rated moderate), which is located just east of the Park Store. The trail is marked with 7 numbered posts that correspond to the numbered descriptions in the trail guide which can be found at the gatehouse or trailhead.

The trail winds through the forest and along cliffs and highlights the interesting geological features of the area, including shale pillars and glacial erratics. The trail starts off near a small creek that spills over a cliff and flowers into the Ottawa River. Thousands of years ago, the Ottawa River was once much wider than it is today and helped shape the landscape in Fitzroy into cliffs and terraces.

The trail then passes by a series of cliffs with reddish rocks and several distinctive layers of bedrock. Almost 500 million years ago, most of Ontario was covered by a vast sea. The layered red rock exposed in the cliff faces is shale, which was once the muddy floor of the Paleozoic sea.

The trail then leads to the top of the hill and showcases the effects of water and wind erosion. The tall pillar of shale has been left standing while all the rock around it has been weathered away. The viewpoint at #7 also provides a decent view into the valley below, including the power lines that lead to the Chats Falls dam.

And with that we had one numbered post left, which leads to the top of the park. From here we could view the Ottawa River and the man-made Chats Falls Dam.

We then headed to the Carp Trail (1km, rated easy), which is located near the bridge towards the Two Rivers Campground. Naturally we had to check out the views from the bridge first.

The trail is relatively short and sweet. The path loops through the forest and follows the shore of the Carp River for the first few hundred metres.

After finishing up our hike we drove to check out the beach area. There were a few signs posted about how the beach was currently unsafe for swimming due to high bacteria levels. Despite this warning, we saw a number of kids playing in the water. That’s a hard pass for us though.

Near the beach area there is a plaque to commemorate Robert Shirreff, who, with his father, brother and sisters were the first settlers and founders of Fitzroy Harbour. The remains of Shirreff’s Point House, which was built in 1819, are reputed to be located here, but we didn’t search for them as dark clouds were rolling in.

Remember how we were at Driftwood earlier this morning and tried to drive away from the rain? Turns out there’s no escaping it. Just as we were finishing up at the beach area, it started to rain. Maybe we should have set up our tent earlier. To kill some time while we waited for the rain to subside, we drove to the comfort station in the campground to shower.

But the thing about the rain is that it was only getting started. According to the weather forecast it was supposed to continue raining throughout the evening. Setting up in the rain is the worst. And we were getting tired and hungry. So there was only one thing we could do – leave. We ended up booking a room in a hotel in Kanata instead. No regrets. We had a wonderful sleep and this way we were reassured that we and our tent would stay dry.


My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

49 thoughts on “Fitzroy Provincial Park

  1. Ab says:

    Did Robert Shirreff swim in the bacteria filled water despite the warnings? Jokes aside, I would not have gone in there too. But good for the kids for building their immunity!

    I’m always in awe of your energy. If I get to campsite at 5 pm, I’d be lazing around not doing two hikes. 😆 But kudos to you. Definitely works up an appetite.

    I hope you avoided the rain for the rest of your out that trip!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Ha, maybe that’s how he died!? It was a bit unsettling to see kids swimming in the water despite the warning about high bacteria levels. Turns out even if the water was fine, we likely wouldn’t have gone swimming because of the rain.

      I’m glad we decided to complete the trails first before setting up our tent, otherwise we probably would have just stayed at our campsite and been miserable. I like to think that everything happens for a reason though. I think the forecast was calling for a lot of rain that evening, so the timing worked out perfectly. After that, we had lovely weather for the remainder of our road trip.

  2. kagould17 says:

    Ahhh, tent camping and rain. There is nothing wrong in changing the plan to a nice dry night in a motel, if the rain will not stop. Glad you had the option. I am on crappy internet right now so will have to check out the pix later. Thanks for sharing. Happy Thursday. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. We’ve done our fair share of camping these past two years during the pandemic, so we had no regrets about ditching our campsite to stay in a motel to avoid the rain. I’ve been trying to convince K that we should get a campervan, which would mean that we wouldn’t have to worry as much about the weather when camping. Thanks for reading. Linda

  3. John says:

    Another lovely provincial park, beautiful! I too would have left the park for a warm, dry bed. As kids in Michigan, we had an island in the lake we lived on which we camped on during rainy nights. Spooky!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      In retrospect, I’m glad we decided to go on those hikes first before setting up our tent, otherwise I’m sure we would have just stayed there for the night and gone to bed early. And then had to pack up a wet tent the next morning. That’s neat to have lived on an island and that does sound spooky to camp during rainy nights. Oddly enough, I find the sound of rain hitting the tent very soothing.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        That does sound a bit spooky. At least you were on an island though. For some reason I always sleep much better when I’m backcountry camping on an island. I figure it’s too much effort for the bears to swim there.

  4. Island Traveler says:

    Rain or shine , we do what we love. Thanks for the inspiration. Fitzroy Hike Trails are full of fun surprises. I haven’t experienced rain for more than a year in California and I do miss it. We need it too, we’re in a bad drought here.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      That’s very true. I’m glad we finished hiking before the rain rolled it. It’s hard to believe that some places don’t get much (or any) rain. We’ve had no shortage of it this fall. No complaints as the rain is supposed to make the fall colours more vibrant. Hopefully you’ll get some rain soon in California. I heard it’s been a bad year for forest fires over there. We’ve even had some in northwestern Ontario.

  5. Little Miss Traveller says:

    I think you made the right decision to stay in a hotel. There’s little worse than setting up camp in the rain and everything being damp. I see you’ve got another of those lovely park badges. Do you think it is the same person who has designed them all? Happy travels, Marion

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It’s always hard to set up camp when it’s raining. There’s nothing worse than crawling into a damp sleeping bag. I’m glad this park was close to a city and we were able to find a room at the last minute.

      The park crests were designed by a designer along with Ontario Parks staff from all over the province. It’s neat how each one has a unique design to reflect the park’s identity. They really are quite nice.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I am directionally challenged, so I appreciate a trail that is very well-marked. The other nice thing about the numbered posts is that it’s much easier to know if you’re hiking the loop in the right direction. And yes, we didn’t hesitate to ditch our campsite to stay in a hotel. We’ve done our fair share of camping over the past two years, so we didn’t feel guilty about treating ourselves. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Linda

  6. wetanddustyroads says:

    Ah, more lovely trails! I like these short trails going through high trees and ending up with a view somewhere (even if there is a power line in-between 😉)! Absolutely, I would be the first one behind the steering wheel looking for a room instead of pitching a tent in the rain!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The view was a bit underwhelming on account of the power lines, but the trail itself was quite scenic. Glad to hear that we’re not the only ones that don’t want to set up camp in the rain. No thanks!

  7. btrb says:

    This looks like a lovely place. I look forward to traveling back to Canada after covid leaves us and the US/Canada border reopens. Do they allow dogs on the hiking trails?

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Most trails in Ontario do allow dogs, but there are a few exceptions, most of that depends on the terrain. I am also looking forward to when the border reopens as I would love to take a road trip across the US. We were planning on visiting the national parks in Utah last fall, but we had to change our plans due the pandemic. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Linda

  8. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    I’m too old to camp in the rain (actually I don’t camp any more at all); changing over to a dry room with a bed and non-bacterial shower is a perfectly fine alternative. Can’t believe kids were swimming in that! Yikes.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m trying to convince K that we should buy a campervan, that way we don’t have to worry about setting up a tent in the rain anymore. I can’t believe that there were kids swimming in that water too even though there was a water advisory warning. Not good.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. I’m glad we were at least able to finish our hikes before the rain started. In some ways I’m glad we didn’t set up our tent beforehand otherwise we probably would have just stayed at our campsite instead of going to a hotel for the night!

  9. Diana says:

    I’m truly amazed by the number of parks in Ontario. How cool that you could see so much geology at this one. I enjoyed learning more about how the area was formed. Good thing you were able to bail and find a hotel. I’ve set up camp in the rain before as well so I can certainly commiserate on how awful it is.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s pretty awesome that there are a lot of provincial parks in Ontario. It’s been fun learning more about the geology and history of of a particular park and how it was created. There’s been a huge demand for parks this past year and I hope we continue to expand and create more green spaces.

      And yes, I’m so glad we were both in agreement about staying in a hotel that night. I think the forecast was calling for a ridiculous amount of rain overnight, so it was definitely well worth it.

  10. ourcrossings says:

    Fitzroy Provincial Park badge is quite lovely, Linda 🙂 There are many reasons why people once in a while should swap hotels for wild camping, and vice versa because even the most spectacular sights won’t make up for a miserable night camping in cold and rainy weather. Thanks for sharing and Happy October 🙂 Aiva

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I completely agree. We figure we haven’t spent as much on travel these past two years anyway, so we didn’t think twice about leaving our campsite behind. I’ve been trying to convince K that we should get a campervan, that way, we don’t have to worry as much about the weather when camping. I can’t believe it’s already October. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Linda

  11. leightontravels says:

    Well, seems that we are all unanimous in supporting your decision to forgo a rainy night in a tent for a nice warm hotel room. The design of your new badge is lovely, shame about the swim. Are there any good spots for autumn foliage viewing near you that you perhaps plan to visit this month or have already visited?

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. That was one of the best decisions we made on our road trip. There’s nothing worse than setting up your tent in the rain and then having to bunker down inside it for the remainder of the evening. Everything feels damp, and at that point there’s no way of drying anything off. Hard pass.

      Ontario is beautiful in the fall when the leaves are changing colour. Last weekend we went camping in Algonquin, which is reputed to be one of the best places to enjoy the fall foliage. It was beautiful, but very busy. We’re hoping to get in some more fall hiking this month. There never seems to be enough hours in the day though!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Good question! I’m open to any suggestions! I was thinking about getting them framed. Someone also suggested that I put a big map of Ontario on one of my walls and add the patches to where all the parks are located. Good thing I have a while to think about it while I try to finish collecting them all.

      • Angela says:

        I noticed that too….. and also several spam blogs followed me, so I have to go trough and clean up.
        My weekend was good and very productive 🙂 Weather still so good and warm here. Very unusual and enjoyable.
        Have a nice week! 🌞

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        We’ve had unseasonably warm weather this past weekend. It was nice to get one last taste of summer. Fingers crossed the weather stays warm for this coming weekend when we’ll be celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving. Best of luck with your blog and dealing with the clean up. I probably need to do the same at some point. Take care.

      • Angela says:

        Thank you so much Linda! Enjoy beautiful warm days. Hopefully the weather will stay nice on Thanksgiving day as well 🙂

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I’ve been paying close attention to the weather forecast as I’ll be hosting my family for Thanksgiving this year and I’m really hoping we can eat outside! Enjoy the rest of your week.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Thanks Angela! Thankfully the weather held up. It was 25C yesterday and we were able to have dinner outside. If it weren’t for the leaves changing colour, I would thought that it was still summer. Despite the rain, hopefully you enjoyed your weekend.

      • Angela says:

        This is very good!
        We had a rainy weekend, but still warm. The weather absolutely amazing this year, very warm. The fall just started and looks so beautiful. I love fall.
        My weekend was good, but not enough 😀
        Have a beautiful week! Warm and nice! 🌞

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Having nice weather can make such a huge difference. I find I’m usually in a better mood when the sun is shining. I love the fall too. It’s my favourite season and it’s in full swing here in southern Ontario. We’re hoping to get some hiking in this weekend to enjoy all the fall foliage. Enjoy the rest of your week as well. 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You bet. It was getting late and we were pretty hungry. Neither of us had the energy to set up our tent in the rain and then make dinner (also in the rain) afterwards. I’d say it all worked out for the best!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. We’ve had a lot of fun exploring what’s in our own backyard during the pandemic. It gives us a reason to get out of the house and get some exercise! The weather at Fitzroy wasn’t the greatest, but I’m glad we finished the trails before it started to rain. Take care. Linda

Leave a Reply