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Wheels and wonders: What are the best bike trails in Ottawa?

Wheels and wonders What are the best bike trails in Ottawa

Think Ottawa is all paperwork and politeness? Think again! We’re here to prove that there’s a wild side to this city – and it’s just waiting to be explored on two wheels. Forget those stuffy suits and diplomatic meetings: we’re talking about the wind in your hair and the thrill of the open path. 

So gear up and join us as we uncover the best bike trails Ottawa has to offer. Whether you’re craving a scenic riverside cruise, a challenging climb with epic views, or a leisurely roll through hidden gems, this city’s bike trails will surprise you. 

Leamy Lake Trail

– Media credit to karinel225

Location: Parc du Lac-Leamy, Ottawa, Canada

Time to complete: 31 minutes

Distance: 2.4 kilometres

Difficulty level: Easy

Leamy Lake is incredibly accessible – the smooth, flat path is great for beginners, families, and anyone wanting a relaxing ride.  Plus, the scenery is delightful! As you cycle, you’ll enjoy views of the sparkling lake and glimpses of the iconic Ottawa skyline. 

Leamy Lake Park itself is a major draw. As the largest urban park in the Capital Region, it boasts 174 hectares of recreational space, including swimming, volleyball, playgrounds, open water swimming, and barbecue pits. This makes it a true outdoor destination for a full day of fun.

Old Quarry Trail 

– Media credit to queldommage

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Time to complete: 37 minutes

Distance: 2.7 kilometres

Difficulty level: Easy

Old Quarry Trail is one of those awesome places that work for everyone, whether you love mountain biking or just like a breezy afternoon ride. Think of it like this: you’ve got options!  There’s a shorter loop (1.7 km) if you’re short on time, or a longer one (2.7 km) for when you want to stretch your legs.

Plus, if you’re a bit of a history nerd (no judgment here!), Old Quarry Trail has these signs that teach you about the rocks and how they were used to build important Ottawa buildings. It’s like an outdoor museum mixed with a bike ride!

Rideau Canal Waterway and Dow’s Lake

– Media credit to annmarianen

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Time to complete: 56 minutes

Distance: 4 kilometres

Difficulty level: Easy

This path is famous for its stunning views of the canal, Parliament Hill peeking through the trees, and of course, the serene beauty of Dow’s Lake (especially at sunset!). You can think of it as the perfect spot for a leisurely cruise alongside a piece of Canadian history.

In fact, the Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  As you pedal along, you’re cycling beside a piece of engineering history.  

Parliament Hill Loop

– Media credit to infectious_travels08

Location: NCC Greenbelt, Ottawa, Canada

Time to complete: 1 hour and 21 minutes

Distance: 5.3 kilometres

Difficulty level: Easy

Want to see the majestic Peace Tower of Parliament rise in front of you as you cruise along on your bike? That’s what you get on the Parliament Hill Loop – a personal VIP tour of Ottawa’s highlights, all from the comfort of your bike seat.

Plus, there are numerous wide and dedicated lanes here that make it safe for cyclists of all levels. It even connects to a whole network of other trails, so you can explore Gatineau across the river or follow the Rideau Canal for a longer adventure.

Remic Rapids to Canadian War Museum

– Media credit to ottawainfocus

Location: NCC Greenbelt, Ottawa, Canada

Time to complete: 1 hour and 16 minutes

Distance: 5.6 kilometres

Difficulty level: Moderate

This loop is part of the massive Ottawa River Pathway, offering over 800 kilometres of paved paths that link natural wonders, parks, gardens, and even national historic sites across Canada’s Capital Region.

What’s the best part, you ask? This trail is perfect for everyone! The gentle terrain makes it a breeze for cyclists of all abilities,  including families with young kids.  

You can even take a break and refuel at the Mill Street Brewery, a family-friendly restaurant right on the Ottawa River shoreline. Feeling artistic?  The trail also leads you to the fascinating rock sculptures at Remic Rapids (created by local artist John Felice Ceprano).

Trail 5353A

– Media credit to ncc_ccn

Location: Mer Bleue Conservation Area, Ottawa, Canada

Time to complete: 1 hour and 48 minutes

Distance: 7.2 kilometres

Difficulty level: Easy

Trail 5353A (yes, we know this name sounds weird) might not have flashy name recognition, but that’s part of its charm. Consider it Ottawa’s best-kept cycling secret. 

The trail is especially special for beginners and families. It’s mostly flat so it offers a relaxing ride without crazy hills to conquer. And, if you’re curious about the unique ecosystem of the Mer Bleue bog, interpretive panels along the way offer fascinating insights into its flora and fauna.

Rideau Canal: Eastern Pathway

– Media credit to Ottawalks 

Location: Rideau Canal Waterway, Ottawa, Canada

Time to complete: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Distance: 8.5 kilometres

Difficulty level: Easy

Celebrated for its stunning views and convenient access, this trail offers a splendid 8.5 km ride gently unfolding along the eastern banks of the historic Rideau Canal. 

And here’s where it gets even better: this trail is your gateway to the extensive Capital Pathway network, spanning over 200 km and connecting parks, gardens, museums, and attractions across urban centers, suburbs, and peaceful natural areas.

Pine Grove Trail

– Media credit to richardkbethell

Location: South end of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Time to complete: 2 hours and 8 minutes

Distance: 9.8 kilometres

Difficulty level: Moderate

Pine Grove Trail in the Greenbelt is like a gentle walk in the woods, but on a bike – and that’s just the start! 

Its charm lies in its simplicity, accessibility, and mix of natural and planted forests. It’s a smooth, wide path that’s perfect for all skill levels which is ideal if you’re looking for a relaxing and nature-filled ride. 

Speaking of nature, keep those eyes peeled for deer, chipmunks, and all sorts of birds along the way.

Somerset to Dow’s Lake Pavilion

– Media credit to dows_lake

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Time to complete: 2 hours and 37 minutes

Distance: 10.5 kilometres

Difficulty level: Moderate

Somerset to Dow’s Lake Pavilion trail starts in the heart of downtown, making it easy to reach for city dwellers. Plus, it’s super safe with dedicated bike lanes and a few street crossings!

But this trail is also a destination in itself. It offers bike rentals, paddle boats, and delicious snacks – ideal for a fun-filled afternoon.

Somerset to Dow’s Lake Pavilion is that reliable friend of a trail: fun, easygoing, and always there to deliver a great time. It’s perfect for an after-work de-stress ride, a leisurely weekend outing with the family, or a scenic way to get between downtown and the lake.

Rideau Canal and Ottawa River Pathway Loop

– Media credit to bebe_lily

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Time to complete: 2 hours and 58 minutes

Distance: 12.2 kilometres

Difficulty level: Moderate

Rideau Canal and Ottawa River Pathway Loop have everything: stunning views, iconic landmarks,  a touch of history, and a whole lot of fun. 

For a unique twist, the loop winds through the Experimental Farm, a cool blend of urban cycling and agricultural research. It’s a surprising touch of nature right in the city!

But this loop is not just sightseeing. There are several parks, cafes, and lively spots along the way that invite you to stop, take a break, and soak up the city’s vibe.

Rideau River Eastern Pathway

– Media credit to joanye_yuuu

Location: Central Park, Ottawa, Canada

Time to complete: 5 hours and 44 minutes

Distance: 23.3 kilometres

Difficulty level: Moderate

Rideau River Eastern Pathway doesn’t play coy with its beauty. As you pedal along, the ribbon of the Rideau River flows beside you, parks and beaches unfurling like a green welcome mat. Bridges and pedestrian crossings dot your path, offering options for exploration. 

Want to mix things up? A mere 3.3 miles in, you can hop on the Hurdman Bridge and swap to the Rideau River Nature Trail for a change of scenery – a hidden gem for adventurous cyclists!

Here’s the cherry on top: the infrastructure is impressive. Parking is plentiful, with food options nearby to refuel your ride. Plus, there are even restrooms and change rooms at key points along the route!