Great Hiking Trails Near Ottawa

Miles of hiking trails run through the stunning Mer Bleue bog in Ottawa
Miles of hiking trails run through the stunning Mer Bleue bog in Ottawa | © Guoqiang Xue / Alamy Stock Photo
Emma Gibbins

Hiking is a favourite pastime in and around Ottawa, with a multitude of trails and year-round spectacular scenery. From paved pathways for beginners to rugged stretches of more challenging terrain, here’s our pick of the best.

Pinhey Forest Trails

With trails for all skill levels year round, Pinhey Forest is a popular hiking area, with 4mi (6km) of trails offering easy exploration for families in a natural forest setting – the towering conifers providing plenty of shade from the sun. The forest is also home to Ottawa’s only inland sand dune ecosystem, dating back 10,000 years, to the last ice age. Pinhey Forest is about 9mi (14km) from the city, behind the Nepean Sportsplex. Parking is available on Woodroffe Avenue.

Gatineau Park

You’ll fall in love with the extraordinary biodiversity of Gatineau Park, just 15 minutes’ drive from downtown Ottawa. In addition to 118 rare or endangered species, numerous wetlands and 50 lakes, the park also has 100mi (165km) of hiking trails, ranging from short strolls to difficult climbs. Many routes end at scenic lookouts, such as the King Mountain Trail, which rewards hikers with gorgeous views over the Ottawa Valley. Other favourites include the Luskville Falls Trail and the Pink Lake Trail, leading to one of the area’s only meromictic lakes – a lake with layers of water that don’t mix.

Stony Swamp Trails

Around 13mi (21km) from the city, Stony Swamp is classified as a provincially significant wetland, its bedrock dating back to Precambrian times, the earliest part of Earth’s history. The swamp protects more than 700 species of plants and more than 250 rare birds, including the endangered northern goshawk. Hikers, bikers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers can enjoy 25mi (40km) of trails across all seasons, with many passing through sugar-maple forest and near beaver dams. You can also discover the swamp’s wonderful scenery from various boardwalks in the area. Free parking is available year-round.

Pine Grove

Pine Grove is a large forest area in Ottawa’s Greenbelt, the most ecologically diverse section of eastern Ontario. Its 11mi (18km) of trails invite hikers and horseback riders on a journey through this important wildlife habitat, home to species such as the wood thrush and black-billed cuckoo. Highlights include a self-guided forestry interpretive trail, and tree-identification arboretum, where you can learn about everything from cedar groves to old pine plantations. The forest is particularly popular during winter, when you can come cross-country skiing and tobogganing.

Mer Bleue

East of downtown Ottawa, Mer Bleue is one of southern Ontario’s largest bogs. It runs through the famous Mer Bleue Conservation Area, a habitat for beavers, muskrats, waterfowl, and rare spotted turtles. Learn more about the wildlife while exploring 12mi (20km) of trails, with many scenic interpretive boardwalks that lead into the heart of the bog. The 4mi (6km) forest trail takes you to a sandy escarpment, with incredible landscape views. The trails are rated as moderate, but there are benches en route if you need to take a breather.

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