Turtlehead Trails - Fairlea Community Association

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About the Trails


Turtlehead Trails provides a place for nature appreciation and contemplation, fun for the kids, skiiers and dog walkers. The Trail is 6 km long. Access to the trail can be achieve by entering Fairlea Court on Fairlea Crescent going to the bottom of Gore Private, turning right on Gateville. Parking is provided near the trail head.

For photos of our previous trail days you can visit the Day of Caring Site (not all photos are Turtlehead photos) http://www.unitedwayottawa.ca/english/dayofcaring_photos.htm

The last trail-building day took place when Convergys Corporation, the United Way-Youth Day of Caring and Volunteer Ottawa worked with Fairlea Community Association during the Day of Caring 2007. The event took place on Friday, 12 October, 2007.

The Trail has been part of the educational interpretation program developed by the Turtlehead Trail group with nearby Prince of Peace School. This encourages youth stewardship of the area. The Trail improves the indigenisation of Ottawa's environment by our only planting of native trees.

Turtlehead Trails is spearheaded by Fairlea Community Association, and Fairlea Park Housing Co-op's Environment Committee, but includes residents from across the City of Ottawa.

The Turtlehead Area is defined as being located West of Conroy, East of Bank, South of Heron and North of Johnston Roads in Ottawa. It sits at the divide between the McEwen and Sawmill Creek watersheds. This includes Greenboro Turtlehead Nature Area (GTNA) and Conroy Woods. The area contains a wetland, meadows and a variety of trees.


Between 80 and 90% of wetlands in the Ottawa area have disappeared.

Conroy Swamp is the 4th largest wetland in the old City of Ottawa.

Parts of the area were designated environmentally sensitive in 1994.

The Natural Open Spaces Study described the parts of the area as "environmentally significant" and "worthy of protection" in 1998.

In 1999, Conroy Swamp was donated to the City by the landowner, Claridge Richcraft, to become an Environmentally Sensitive Area. This became Greenboro Turtlehead Nature Area. Also in 1999, thanks to the efforts of Fairlea Community Association (FCA), the 32 acre area West of the water tower (Conroy Woods) was similarly protected. It is now referred to as Turtlehead North. Since then, the FCA has built trails and is working towards recreational and educational enhancement within this area.

In Turtlehead, you can find a large variety of animals: raptors, squirrels, beaver, muskrat, groundhogs, raccoons, skunks, white-tailed deer, coyote, snakes, turtles, salamanders and frogs. The area is also home to some rare native plants such as Arrow-wood, Dense Sedge, Rough Pennyroyal, Turtlehead, Drooping Woodreed and Arrowvine. These plants are food for insects which are food for birds, fish, frogs, salamanders, and more. The plants have been evolving with these creatures since the Ice Age ended 10,000 years ago!

At the end of the last Ice Age, Turtlehead North was a beach on the edge of Alta Vista Island, created as the Champlain Sea dropped.  Whale and seal bones have been found all about Ottawa and it is likely that they frolicked here thousands of years ago. The beach is now a small, treed sandy ridge and meadow, across from a treed and peat-filled marshy valley where the Nature Area is located. The marsh is part of the Mer Bleue formation. Such a concentration of features in an industrial and residential area is found in few other areas in Ontario, making this habitat and an unusual opportunity for collaboration. We need to develop an environmental stewardship council led by its various stakeholders to maintain, protect, and enhance the area's features.

Trailbuilding October 2006

Turtlehead trail building started in 1999 and happens semi-annually with the help of volunteers from within as well as outside the community. This year was a huge success with 27 volunteers from outside the Fairlea Community Association and 3 from within. The volunteers came from Transport Canaada, and Volunteer Ottawa implemented the “Day of Caring”.

            Volunteers arrived early and ready to provide any and all help needed to accomplish our goal for rebuilding the trail this year. We had a mixture of experienced and not so experienced trail builders, all of whom worked very well with each other to get the much needed upkeep completed. Laughter could be heard from the different sections of the trail as one walked up and down the hydro road to get supplies or communicate with another team leader.

            The major project this year was the addition of a 300M to link Don Reid Drive near the Paramedic Headquarters that serves as a link to other trails and the Water Tower. 

            The day was a huge success and we hope to see some familiar faces when it comes time to get our shovels and picks out yet again to ensure the life of our trails.


Top: Volunteers working hard on repairing the bridge that was damaged by an off-road vehicle.

Bottom: The lovely Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

Just one of the beautiful vegetation on the trails, this is Hawthorn.