As the snow continues to melt and the weather turns warmer, families are anxious to get outside more and more. One great way to explore the great outdoors, connect with nature and spend quality time together as a family is to go on a nature walk. If you aren’t sure where to go for a walk, other than around your neighbourhood block, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here are some favourite nature trails and areas to enjoy green spaces and trails in the Ottawa area. So, make plans to head out this weekend—you won’t regret it!
This gem in Ottawa’s East End is a conservation area that is the second largest bog in Southern Ontario (and the largest in the Nation’s Captial region). You’ll love letting the kids explore the area, especially as everyone takes a leisurely walk along the 1.2 km boardwalk in addition to 20 km of other trails. Depending on the time of year, you can hike the trails, snowshoe or cross country ski on the trails. There is free parking, picnic areas and the boardwalk is accessible.
Gatineau Park is a large area, covering over 360 square km, so when we recommend Gatineau Park as a hiking trail, you have plenty of different trails to choose from. But to kick off with a simple adventure, head to the Gatineau Park information centre (and let the kids visit the displays) then take a walk along the entrance to the trails nearby.
Photo credit: Louise Imbeault
Not only is Petrie Island a beach in Orleans where families in Ottawa come to play, but it’s also a conservation area and great trail location. Most of the nature trails at Petrie Island are short making them perfect for smaller feet to walk. The Bill Holland trail is the longest one at just over 2 km long. The Turtle Trail is only 300 m long but offers the opportunity to check out the turtle nesting area.
In Ottawa’s west end, in the Greenbelt of the City, you and your family will love exploring Pinhey Forest. It’s especially amazing to know that it’s home to Ottawa’s only sand dune complex. The forest boasts a trail over 6 km long for hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. There is free parking and picnic areas to help make a day out of your journey.
Despite the name, Pink Lake in Quebec isn’t actually pink, but it is a beautiful setting to hike. The special lake is unique because of it’s ecology—the upper and lower layers of the lake don’t mix. We feel a great conversation with the kids can happen before you go about the makeup of the water! The turquoise/green colour of the water is special to the area and helps make this a very popular trail to hike. This is about a 2 km hike and some spots include stairs, and the Pink Lake lookout is accessible.
Bird watchers will be excited to head to Stony Swamp, southwest of Ottawa. The forests, wetlands and swamps are home to many little critters. With 40 km of trails, including some you can bike on, this is a great destination for the family. There’s also a Wild Bird Care Centre if you find a bird in distress.
Known for its popular beaches, Meech Lake in Quebec (very close to downtown Ottawa) is also home to lovely hiking trails that will lead you into historical Wakefield Village where you can grab lunch, coffee or even treat the family to ice cream. Everyone deserves it after a hike, right? From the Meech Lake area, you can also hike to the “Carbide” Wilson Ruins, and feel like you are stepping into Gatineau’s past.