Carp Barrens Ecological Tour

This tour is sold out.

CarpBarrensTourThe Friends of Huntley Highlands invite the community to a guided tour to learn about the extraordinary Carp Barrens on Saturday, 9 May from 10am to 11:30am. Dr. Owen Clarkin will lead a 90 minute tour focused on the unusual ecology and plant life found on this large expanse of Canadian Shield granite. A handout describing what makes this area special and what you will see will be provided at checkin.  See RULES OF THE TOUR at the bottom of this page.

The Carp Barrens is a sparsely vegetated outcrop of Canadian Shield dotted with small ponds. In the spring it explodes with wildflowers and green mosses, sedges, and lichens.  From a 1992 ANSI report conducted by Daniel Brunton:

“The Carp Barrens is dominated by the most extensive, best-expressed complex of granite bedrock on the Carp Ridge and in the site district … Canadian Shield plants otherwise uncommon or rare in the [City of Ottawa] are common here.”

Space is limited to 25 participants so on-line pre-registration using Eventbrite is required. A donation of $20 per person is requested at check-in to help with event costs. You will also be asked to sign a WAIVER (PDF), which you can review and print.

The check-in and tour begin at a rugged trailhead on Thomas Dolan Parkway, about 2.1 km from the Carp Road intersection (heading north) and 1.6 km from the Stonecrest intersection (heading south). Signs will be posted. Parking along Thomas Dolan Parkway is limited and traffic can be dangerous so please carpool and exercise caution. We will have volunteers assisting with locating parking

The event will run rain or shine. Expect rocky, uneven, slippery terrain that is not suitable for young children. Hiking boots with ankle support are highly recommended.

Please stay on the trail. The ecology on this land of thin soil and rock is fragile.

About the guide.   Dr. Owen Clarkin is conservation committee chair of the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club.   He has been studying the trees and shrubs of Eastern Ontario as a dedicated amateur since the age of 4. Since finishing a terminal degree in the natural sciences in 2012, he is more seriously exploring topics in tree identification and ecology from an Eastern Ontario perspective, together with a core group of colleagues. In addition to leading public nature hikes, Owen regularly contributes to local and worldwide plant identification forums on social media.  Dr. Clarkin is leading a year long biothon in Constance Bay in the Torbolton Forest in partnership with the Macnamara Field Naturalists’ Club of Arnprior.


The Carp Barrens are ecologically sensitive and easily disturbed. It is a fragile and special area. It can take years for plants to regenerate.

  • Stay on the trail or bare rock.  The moss and lichen mats on the rock barrens are very fragile.
  • If you turn over a rock to look for wildlife (snakes, etc…), please replace the rock gently where it was.
  • Please do not create rock piles.  The scattered rocks provide important habitat and shelter for wildlife, including several species at risk.  Leave them in place.
  • Do not remove any plants, animals or other natural objects from the barrens.
  • If you come across a Blanding’s turtle, do not handle it (unless removing it from a road).
  • Do not handle wildlife.
  • Pack all garbage back out.