When the weather cooperates in Ottawa (and we aren’t under a severe weather warning) a wonderful way to spend time together as a family is to explore the great outdoors and go on a hike. There are many trails and paths in the Ottawa area that are as short as you need them to be, or longer for more experienced hikers. When we think about hiking, we may imagine a long, gear-filled adventure, but that doesn’t have to be the case! You can choose the path that best suits you and your family.
With so many winter hiking trails in Ottawa and the capital region, you can try a new location every time you head out. Or, stick to your consistent spots that you know and love. When you do go, be on the look out for wildlife too!
Here’s where to find winter hiking trails in Ottawa for all skill levels
Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority has multiple trail locations and their website provides information about distance, fees, helpful maps and more. You can discover trails that also have picnic areas, washrooms and more which we know may be convenient for families of younger children. These conservation areas offer a stunning natural location to explore along shorelines, walkways and wetlands with the opportunity to come across wildlife and birds. Visit their website for a list of locations with amenities to make your hiking experience easier and to find the best location. If you want an easier hike, start at Mott’s Mills Conservation Area in Smiths Falls that is only 0.5 km long. For a bit of a longer hike, enjoy the boardwalk at Chapman Mills Conservation Area.
The NCC has a list of trails on their website that have become popular over the years with many Ottawa area residents. Their popularity isn’t just because of the amazing trails to hike on, but because of the many opportunities to spot a variety of birds, the multi-use trails (for snowshoeing, skiing, and more) and the trails that are available for our four-legged friends as well. On their website you’ll discover what trails are available, the entry locations (which will make parking easier too), and the conditions you need to know about (on-leash dog trails, the time of year the trail is open and more). If you aren’t sure where to begin, we think families would love walking the boardwalk at Mer Bleue, and the multi-use trails at Shirley’s Bay.
For those who aren’t looking for a full hiking adventure, or who want to explore areas that aren’t always as well-known, read this article by the NCC about lesser known hiking trails that will still connect you with nature and offer stunning views along the way.
Not sure which winter hiking trails in Ottawa are best for you and your toddler or little kid? Or are you thinking about taking your child to a new spot but also want to make a longer outing of it? You’ll definitely want to browse the Adventure Report website. We love Adventure Report for discovering new locations with family-friendly details. Meg is a blogger, local hiking enthusiast and parent and maintains Adventure Report as a go-to resource to help Ottawa area residents explore new trails. The site is set up to browse blog posts about specific trails with explainers about how to get to the trail, what activities are nearby, elevation and more. Other blog posts are helpful for all hikers, like one about which trails are accessible by bus in the City, and where you are likely to discover birds and woodland animals along the route. In addition, there is a map to discover the locations for all of the trails.