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Outdoors

Best Walking Trails in the Ottawa Area

Here we are. In the heart of summer. Our days are long, and the air is warm. Who wants to be stuck inside a gym for hours when the weather is so perfect outside? We are lucky to have an abundance of walking/biking/hiking trails in and around our city so we can stay fit and healthy while enjoying the great outdoors. The trails in Ottawa have something for everyone. Whether you are looking for a vigorous hike through rough terrain, bird watching, or just enjoying the sights and sounds of nature, Ottawa trails have you covered. Check out our list of the best trails in the Ottawa area for every type of adventurer! All trails are within a 30-minute drive to downtown. Summer isn’t long enough to stay inside all day, so why not get outside and enjoy it!

Carbide Willson Trail

  • Willson Carbide Hiking Trail in Gatineau Park

Best for HIKING / WALKING

Location: Gatineau Park
(
28-minute drive from downtown Ottawa)

Trail length: 1.5km

Terrain: ⋆⋆⋆

Views: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Dogs must be on leash

Open year round

The Carbide Willson Ruins Trail is an easy 30-minute hike with an interesting story. The trail meanders through the forest and over a bridge with great views of Meech Lake. The trail ends at the remains of a paranoid inventor (Thomas “Carbide” Willson)’s hidden workshop. The ruins date back to the 1800’s offering an interesting piece of history along with the sights and sounds of nature. There is a beautiful waterfall that cascades through the old building, offering stunning views.  You’ll want to bring your cell phone to take some photos! There is a parking lot at the beginning of the trail which offers paid parking. There are also outhouses here. This parking lot can be busy on summer days, because of the beach on Meech Lake. The trail is also open during winter months and a ticket can be obtained to cross country ski on the groomed trails.

Mer Bleue Bog Trail

  • Mer Bleue Bog Trail Boardwalk

Best for HIKING / WALKING

Location: Gloucester
(20-minute drive from downtown Ottawa)

Trail length: 1.4km

Terrain: ⋆⋆

Views: ⋆⋆⋆

Dogs must be on leash

Open year round

The Mer Bleue Bog Trail is famous for its boardwalks, and easy walking paths. You won’t need to worry about rough terrain or many hills on this trail. This picturesque trail is popular for photoshoots due to the beauty of the surroundings. There are great wildlife and landscape views offered at any time of the year. The bog provides habitat for many species of regionally rare plants, birds and other wildlife. Bring some birdseed and let the chickadees eat out of your hand. There is free year-round parking at the base of the trail along with outhouses. Looking for a longer walk? The entire trail system at Mer Bleue is 20kms long for hiking, cross-country skiing as well as snowshoeing making this one of the best trails in Ottawa!

Lime Kiln Trail

  • Ruins at Lime Kiln

Best for HIKING / WALKING

Location: Nepean
(20-minute drive from downtown Ottawa)

Trail length: 0.7km

Terrain: ⋆⋆

Views: ⋆⋆⋆

Dogs must be on leash

Open year round

Free parking

The Lime Kiln Trail is an easy 15-minute walk through the forest. Once you get to the ruins, you can explore the structure from below as well as from the top. The ruins are one of the few remaining examples of a 19th century industrial lime kiln in Canada. The site has been abandoned since the 1960’s and offers an interesting piece of history to explore right here in our city. This trail is an easy family friendly trail with lots to explore and enjoy all year round. The Susan and Moe Team filmed a short video at the Lime Kiln Trail in the winter of 2018, it can be viewed at this link.

Pink Lake

  • Pink Lake Trail

Best for HIKING

Location: Gatineau Park
(20-minute drive from downtown Ottawa)

Trail length: 2.1km

Terrain: ⋆⋆⋆

Views: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

No dogs allowed

Open: April 15 – November 15

 

Free parking

The Pink Lake Trail wraps around the entire lake offering stunning lookout points from many different elevations. Though it is named “Pink” Lake, the colour of the water is actually bright green because of the growth of microscopic algae. Some of the species of fish that live in the lake are believed to be prehistoric. There are lots of plaques along your hike where you can learn interesting fun facts. This trail is family friendly and can be a great learning experience for your kids. There are lots of stairs, so this trail is not ideal for strollers or the elderly. It takes about 40 minutes to walk around the entirety. Pink Lake is gorgeous in the autumn months with the beautiful leaves on the trees reflecting in the lake. There are 2 free parking lots at Pink Lake Trail as well as Pink Lake lookout.

Chapman Mills Conservation Area

  • Chapman Mills Conservation Area Boardwalk

 Best for WALKING

 

Location: Fitzroy Harbour
(20-minute drive from downtown Ottawa)

Trail length: 3.1km (to the end and back)

Terrain:

Views: ⋆⋆⋆

Dogs must be on leash

Open year round

Free parking

 

 

Chapman Mills Conservation Area offers an easy walking path along the Rideau Canal next to Prince of Wales Drive. Enjoy a picnic at the picnic shelter, or watch the boats go by on a hot summer day. There are bridges and boardwalks as well as information plaques along the way. The trail ends on the other side of the Vimy Memorial Bridge. There is lots of wildlife along the way and you can expect to see birds, turtles and fish along your walk. Canoe access is also available from the dock by the picnic shelter. Free parking is offered just off Winding Way.

Rideau River Eastern Pathway

  • Rideau River Eastern Pathway

 Best for WALKING / BIKING

Location: Ottawa
(10-minute drive from downtown Ottawa)

Trail length: 23.5km

Terrain:

Views: ⋆⋆⋆

Dogs must be on leash

Open year round

Free Parking at Hog’s Back Park

This trail is located within the heart of the city. It offers amazing views of the Rideau River almost the entire way through. The terrain is paved and flat; very easy to walk on and perfect for all ages. With treed greenspace and benches along the way, this park-like trail is a beautiful place to take a walk with your dog or ride your bike. This trail offers great views along the way such as Hog’s Back Falls and Mooney’s Bay Park. This is a great place to wind down and feel like you are out of the city. This is definitely one of the best trails in Ottawa!

Ottawa River Pathway West

  • Biking along Ottawa River Pathway West with Prince of Wales Bridge

 Best for WALKING / BIKING

 

Location: Crystal Beach – downtown Ottawa
(20-minutes from Ottawa)

Trail length: 34.9km

Terrain:

Views: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Dogs must be on leash

Open year round

Free Parking is available at Remic Rapids Park, Deschênes Rapids and Kitchissippi Lookout

This trail can be accessed from many different parking areas off the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway along the Ottawa River. The views along the river are beautiful featuring a variety of different sights. Watch the sailboats along Crystal Beach and Britannia Bay, walk under the historic Prince of Wales Bridge, or stop in at the Museum of History when you make it to the city. The terrain is paved and flat and well maintained, making it easy for walking or biking. Be careful in the spring months as there are some parts that may be flooded due to the high water. A great addition to the Ottawa River Pathway West and East are the Nokia Bikedays. On Sundays from 9AM-1PM, both the Sir John A. Macdonald and the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway close down so cyclists can enjoy the luxury of biking directly on the paved parkway.

Ottawa River Pathway East

  • Rideau River Eastern Pathway along the Ottawa River

 Best for WALKING / BIKING

 

Location: Rockcliffe Park – Orleans
(25-minutes to downtown Ottawa)

Trail length: 11.6km

Terrain:

Views: ⋆⋆⋆

Dogs must be on leash

Open year round

Free parking is available on Rue Tennis Crescent as well as an assortment of parking lots along the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway

Much like the western part of the Ottawa River Pathway, the eastern part can also be accessed in many different areas. There are lots of free parking lots along the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway where you can leave your vehicle and mount your bike. This trail gives you gorgeous views of the Ottawa River and a few large islands in the middle. You will pass by the Rockcliffe Yacht Club as well as the Rockcliffe Airport and Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. This pathway is surfaced, flat and well maintained. Be careful in the spring months as there are some parts that may be flooded due to the high water. A great addition to the Ottawa River Pathway West and East are the Nokia Bikedays. On Sundays from 9AM-1PM, both the Sir John A. Macdonald and the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway close down so cyclists can enjoy the luxury of biking directly on the paved parkway.

Beaver Trail and Chipmunk Trail

  • Boardwalk at the Beaver Trail

 Best for WALKING / BIKING

 

Location: Nepean
(20-minutes to downtown Ottawa)

Trail length: 3.7km

Terrain: ⋆⋆

Views: ⋆⋆⋆

No dogs allowed

Open year round

Free parking

This trail offers some of the best wildlife and bird watching in the city. You can expect to see chickadees, cardinals and pileated woodpeckers along your walk here. At the end of your hike, stop in at the Wild Bird Care Centre to see some baby birds being cared for. This is a great place to bring your family or to just enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. There is a boardwalk with a lookout over wetlands and a beaver dam. If you are looking for a longer hike, you can extend to the Lime Kiln Ruins from this path as well. If you are looking for wildlife, this is the trail for you. The chipmunks will even eat out of your hand!

Mud Lake Trail

  • Mud Lake in the Fall

 Best for WALKING / HIKING

Location: Lincoln Heights
(15-minutes to downtown Ottawa)

Trail length: 3.2km (to the end and back)

Terrain: ⋆⋆

Views: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

No dogs allowed

Open year round

Free parking at Britannia Beach

This trail is great for watching wildlife at any time of the year. There are lots of lookouts along the way and many different bird species. The terrain is mostly flat and easy to hike. Be sure to bring some birdseed as the chickadees and nuthatches will land eat out of your hands. You would never know you were in the middle of the city in this conservation area. The 60-hectare forest is thick with trees and you can barely hear traffic or people in the distance. It is calm and peaceful, especially at sunset. This trail is family friendly and an easy hike for all ages making it one of the best trails in Ottawa!

In conclusion, there are lots of great trails in the Ottawa area and our short list barely touches on them. The walking trails that our city has to offer are only one of the many reasons that make Ottawa such a great city to live in and enjoy the outdoors. Have other awesome trails that you enjoy? Let us know in the comments!

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