Your Guide to Hiking in Ottawa

Pink Lake Gatineau Ottawa Hiking
Miguel / Flickr
Miguel / Flickr

You don’t have to venture far from Canada’s capital to be hitting the trail. Whether you set out on one of the paths within the city, or explore the Capital Region, there’s a ton of terrain to try.

 

Here are three of tops spots we recommend checking out next time you’re looking to take in a little nature and get a little exercise in Ottawa.

Gatineau Park

This area is not technically in Ottawa, but we’re not trying to fool you! Gatineau is part of the National Capital Region (alongside Ottawa) and is only about a 15 minute drive from the city. And once you arrive in Gatineau Park, you’ll be treated to seven amazing hikes and 139 square miles of wilderness to explore. Here are some highlights:

Pink Lake

A photo posted by sachasachet (@sachasachet) on

No it’s not pink, but it is a meromictic lake, which means it has different layers of water that don’t mix, creating a beautiful gradient of color. What this means for you is a multi-shade turquoise lake to look upon as your wander 1.5 miles around its shores.

Lauriault and Waterfalls Loop

Besides a breathtaking view, we think waterfalls are pretty much the greatest reward a hike can offer. This loop that’s just under 2 miles in length is super popular as it’s great for hikers and walkers of every level. Meander through the lightly wooded area until you reach Bridal Veil Falls — then head back on the loop and explore the Mackenzie King Estate that belonged to Canada’s 10th Prime Minister. Here you can have tea, take a tour, or just enjoy the pastoral surroundings.

King Mountain

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Hike up just over a mile of trail and encounter 10 viewpoints along the way to King Mountain. Once you make your way to the top, you’ll discover amazing views of Ottawa and the surrounding area. Take a moment to soak it all in — you earned it afterall.

We assure you these trails are beautiful in the summer, but if you’re willing to bundle up a bit, they can be used for snowshoeing in the winter too. For more tips on how to get around, here’s a map to get you started.

National Capital Greenbelt

Farms, forest, wetlands, oh my! The National Capital Greenbelt extends across much of Ontario, providing pockets of nature and wilderness to explore. Built originally to protect Ottawa’s lush greenery and unique landscape, the Greenbelt is now home to almost 95 miles of trails. Our favorite routes? Check out four of them:

Mer Bleue Bog

Twelve miles of trails snake through forest to the bog on this hike. Jaunt along a boardwalk, discover rare plants, and choose your own adventure depending on your skill (there are many hikes of different lengths). Once you’ve wrapped up your exercise for the day, there are lots of good spots for a post-hike snack or picnic.

Pine Grove

A photo posted by Steven L (@steveolatino) on

In the largest forest in the Greenbelt, spend a day walking around over 11 miles of hiking trails. If you’re keen to try something different, explore various wildlife habitats, or take a self-guided tour along the Forestry Interpretative trail. Visiting with a furry friend? Visit the popular dog park.

Stony Swamp

A photo posted by Aly (@wandering.wonk) on

Check out the beautiful boardwalks in this area — they provide the perfect place to discover all sorts of scenery. Spot woodlands, a quarry, and even beaver dams (if you look closely). With 25 miles of trails to choose from, you can come back here time and time again to uncover something new in this ecologically rich area.

Green's Creek

East of Ottawa, you’ll find 3 miles of hiking trails at Green’s Creek. While much of the area is made up of forested slopes, you can also explore clay-rich areas and even fossils left behind by the Champlain Sea.There’s also a creek to walk along that’s home to several interesting species of flora and fauna.

Capital Pathways

One-hundred and eighty-six miles of trail are waiting for you. The Capital Pathways run through the National Capital Region and provide plenty of opportunity for locals and travelers alike to get outside and explore nature not far from the city. Whether you’re looking to walk, run, cycle, or rollerblade, there’s a trail that’s right for you. Here are some top picks:

Ottawa River

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Follow the river for 19 miles as it passes a variety of attractions like the Canadian War Museum and Parliament Hill. Spot the Rideau Canal Locks and explore the Rideau Canal (there are two other pathways here too!) during the summer to make your day of walking even more fun.

Experimental Farm Pathway

Gentle hills punctuate this path that’s home to wooded pastures. Pass through fields, by farms, and explore the Canadian Agriculture  and Food Museum too. The best part about these pathways is that they usually lead you to a place worth exploring.

Voyageurs Pathway

A photo posted by Abe Bourgi (@boodzz) on

You can walk this path, but we recommend seeing it by bike. With water views along almost this entire pathway, you’ll be inspired to keep going until you’ve seen it all — including views of Parliament Hill.

Shirley's Bay

Hiking trails and pathways for low-key wandering are what accompany Shirley’s Bay’s incredible scenery. Just west of Ottawa, this spot is ideal for bird watching enthusiasts.

 

Ottawa is an awesome city to explore — whether you’re surrounded by urban streets or wooded paths. With these hikes on your to-do list, we know you’ll love getting to know a wilder side of this city.

For more information on hiking in Ottawa, visit the Ottawa Tourism website.

Photo: Miguel via Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0

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