Shirleys Bay

Photo of the wooded path leading to Shirleys Bay
Wooded path leading to Shirleys Bay

Shirleys Bay, to the west of Ottawa, is a provincially significant wetland and the largest marshland in the Greenbelt. It is also the one of the best spots in Canada’s Capital Region for birdwatching. The Bay is an old channel of the Ottawa River and has a launch for small boats. Within the conservation area there are 7 kilometres of hiking trails and two recreational paths: the Watts Creek Pathway and the Greenbelt Pathway West.

Wetlands and Birdwatching

Shirleys Bay is part of a complex series of wetlands and uplands and one of the Ottawa Valley’s most diverse and undeveloped wildlands. This provincial class one wetland supports diverse plants and animals, some of which are rare and regionally significant. There is a Crown game preserve in the area, on land belonging to the Department of National Defence. The wetlands help maintain the water quality and control the flow of the Ottawa River. Shirleys Bay is on an important bird migration route along the Ottawa River. Over 270 bird species have been seen in Shirleys Bay area over the years.

Things to Do at Shirleys Bay

There is no shortage of outdoor recreational activities in the Shirleys Bay area. Throughout the year there is hiking and, when the weather is warm, boating, cycling, birdwatching and picnicking are popular activities. During the winter you can cross-country ski, snowshoe and ice fish at Shirleys Bay.

Washrooms There is an outhouse at the P1 parking lot by the Shoreline Trail.
Parking Free, year-round parking is available at the P1, P2 and P3 parking lots.
Picnic Areas There are sheltered and unsheltered picnic areas at the P1 parking lot by the Shoreline Trail.
Universal Accessibility The Watts Creek Pathway and Greenbelt Pathway West are universally accessible.

For more information see the Greenbelt’s visitor information.