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The Garry Fen Trail

This is a special place!

The Loch Garry Wetland is classified as Provincially Significant Wetland, and includes open water, swamp, marsh, bog and fen. The Garry Fen comprises only 2% of this wetland. The wetland is also classified as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) by the Ministry of Natural Resources. It is the habitat for many unique organisms, including two rare species of dragonfly.

What is a fen?

A fen is a variety of wetland that is fed with fresh, running water usually in the form of small streams. Grasses, rushes and some trees grow in peat, the material that results from the decomposition of organic material in the absence of oxygen.

Could this also be called a bog?

No. Bogs receive their water exclusively from rain and snow. The peat in a bog is therefore even more acidic and less nutrient-rich than the peat in fens. As a result, the dominant vegetation in a bog is sphagnum moss.

The transition from fen to bog

You will notice many cattails along the boardwalk. Their presence indicates that this is still a fen, and that the water from surrounding lowlands is able to circulate freely. However, when they die, cattails contribute to the formation of peat.

Accumulated peat will eventually, over a long period of time, decrease water flow, cause increased acidity and ultimately complete the transformation of this fen into a bog.

Flora of Garry Fen

The Garry Fen is home to some amazing flora such as carnivorous pitcher plants, showy lady’s slipper orchids, swamp pink orchids, bog rosemary, meadowsweet and turtlehead to name a few. You will see many varieties of mushrooms, mosses, ferns and primitive plants including liverwort and horsetail. Some species are rare and all must be treated with care and respect.

Fauna of Garry Fen

The Fen is home to many insects, amphibians and birds. Insects such
as mosquitoes, blackflies, midges and dragonflies thrive. Much of the animal
life in the fen is secretive or nocturnal; however, observant visitors will be lucky enough to spot frogs, toads, snakes, turtles, and birds.

Garry Fen and the environment

Both bogs and fens are an integral part of a healthy environment. They help control ground and surface water levels throughout the year and purify ground water. They also store carbon in the form of peat. This mitigates the negative impact of climate change by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

As you walk along the Garry Fen Trail, pay close attention to your surroundings as you traverse eight ecosystems within a 3.6 km walk. Notice the signage as you walk from the parking area to the Garry Fen along the boardwalk to the marsh area and beyond.

International cartographic symbols for available seasonal activities on the Glengarry Trails. Hiking, bird watching, cross-country skiing, nature photography, snowshoeing, walking, and Geocaching, to name a few.
A map of the Garry Fen Trail on the Glengarry Trails in Alexandria, Ontario, Canada.

Public Parking is available in the Lakeshore Parking lot, at the Garry Fen Trailhead entrance .

Be aware of weather and conditions, during certain periods of the year the boardwalk surfaces may be slippery.

Trail Etiquette

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare. (no sanitary facilities)
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies, have a cell phone available as the use of the trails is unsupervised. Note that some areas on the trails may have limited cell coverage.
  • Protect fragile vegetation by staying on the trail and the boardwalks.
  • Be considerate of those around you.
  • Dogs must be on leash — keeps your dog and trail users safe.
  • Pick up after your dog and dispose in bin located at the trail entrance — no one likes stepping in dog poop! 
  • During the winter months, snowshoeing is possible.  The Garry Fen Trail is not groomed for cross-country skiing. 
  • No swimming permitted, the water is unsafe.
  • When near the Green Trail Junction, be aware of snowmobiles in winter travelling on the Green trail.
  • Though one can bike on the Garry Fen Trail, it is considered an intermediate level biking trail, not suitable for children.
  • Cross-country runners are welcome.  Be careful of tree roots, loose rocks, and other trip hazards. 

Please Note: Trail User assumes all risks as per Occupiers Liability Act RSO 1990, in case of Emergency call 911.

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