Are you looking to get out of the crowded city and explore nature on a walk or hike near Ottawa? There are many exciting trail options within easy driving distances of downtown, giving you the chance to experience the natural beauty of the Ottawa Valley. Our local experts here at Jim Tubman Chevrolet have put together some of the best hiking options in and around Ottawa for you to explore.
Located in Gatineau Park, the Luskville Falls trail is a challenging but rewarding climb that will give you the opportunity to experience some breathtaking views of the valley. It involves a steep rocky climb up the Eardley Escarpment to access a fire tower that provides an excellent lookout point. You'll complete an elevation of 290 metres along the trail, which is around 4.2 kilometres long.
The National Capital Commission recommends that you set aside two hours to complete the trail. A picnic area is available along the Luskville Falls route in case you want to stop for a bite to eat. The trail starts at the Luskville Falls parking lot. Note that due to conservation reasons, dogs are not allowed.
Pinhey Forest Trails
In contrast to Luskville Falls, the trails in Pinhey Forest offer the opportunity for an easy walk through a wooded landscape. Located just 15 kilometres outside of Ottawa, Pinhey Forest is also accessible if you're looking for a place to spend an hour or two of free time.
Pinhey Forest features 6.4 kilometres of nature trails. Another exciting reason to visit this location is its sand dune complex, which is the only one in the Ottawa region. Take note of the closed-off areas around certain parts of the sand dunes. These restrictions are in place for conservation purposes due to the unique habitat supported by the dunes.
The trails are open throughout the year, making them an ideal choice for summer walks or skiing or snowshoeing in the winter. Dogs are allowed on many of the trails, as long as you keep them on a leash.
If you don't have much time to spare but still want to enjoy some nature, this could be the trail for you. The Dewberry Trail is located within the city, which makes its forested pathway all the more unique. It's 1 kilometre in length and accessible on Dolman Ridge Road. The trail intersects with Trail 50, which gives you the option of extending your hike if you have more time to spare.
Parking is available at the trailhead, where you'll also find a washroom. Dewberry Trail is a loop, so you can walk in either direction. If you hike it clockwise, you'll cross Trail 50 early on in the hike.
The trail is open throughout the year. However, keep in mind that it's also used as a cross-country ski route in the winter, so you should try to avoid disturbing the tracks that have been set. Dogs are generally allowed, but not during the winter months.
Starting in the King Mountain parking lot in Gatineau Park, you can take a challenging 1.8-kilometre hike to the top of Eardley Escarpment. This peak sits 300 metres above Ottawa Valley, giving you a remarkable view of the surrounding area. The trail to the top includes 10 lookout points along the way for you to enjoy.
This is a forest trail with information panels located throughout the route to tell you about the different types of trees and wildlife found in the local area. Due to conservation reasons, dogs are not permitted on this trail.
Manitou Mountain Trail
If you have some more time to spare, you could consider taking the one-hour drive west of Ottawa to reach Manitou Mountain, which is found just outside the town of Calabogie. The Manitou Mountain Trail takes you to the top of the mountain of the same name, giving you the chance to enjoy views of the surrounding valley. While Manitou isn't the highest peak in the local area, it's still an impressive sight to behold. The highest mountain is Dixon Mountain, which features ski slopes.
Along the trail, you'll find an optional detour known as the “Long Way.” It contains a sharp descent, followed by another steep climb before you return to the main trail. In total, you'll travel approximately 9 kilometres from the parking lot to the peak of Manitou Mountain and back again. The elevation along the trail is 313 metres.
The Eagles Nest Trail is located near the Manitou Mountain Trail in the Calabogie region. The hike is a popular route due to the 120-metre-high cliff edge at the end, which provides a stunning view. The trail itself is shorter than the Manitou Mountain route. Another special thing about this trail is that it's located on unceded Algonquin Nation land, and the Eagles Nest is considered a sacred place by local Indigenous peoples.
It takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to reach the lookout from the parking lot. The trail is slightly hilly, with some loose rocks and roots along the way. However, it's an easier hike than the Manitou Mountain Trail.
Blue markers will direct you along the trail, which includes several alternative routes. One is along Old Logging Road, while another takes you along Little Pine Path. These two routes require you to return the same way you hiked. An alternative is to hike up Old Logging Road and return via Little Pine Path, or vice versa. Keep in mind that if you choose this option, you'll need to return to your car on foot using a path along the side of the road.
So, there you have it. We've run through some of the most exciting hiking trails worth checking out in and around Ottawa. We hope we've given you some new places to explore. Did we mention one of your favourite trails? Do you have another hiking tip you'd like to share with us? Feel free to contact the team here at Jim Tubman Chevrolet and we'll include your suggested trail in our next activity blog.
Rideau Trail by Gordon Bell licensed with CC BY-ND 2.0