Winter Hiking Spots in and Around Ottawa
Ottawa offers a unique charm for outdoor enthusiasts, even in the winter. While snow blankets the landscape during the colder months, many hiking trails in and around the Capital are perfect for adventurers looking for a nature escape. In this article, we’ll explore unforgettable winter hiking spots in and around Ottawa that are a must-add to your list.
1. Gatineau Park
Gatineau Park, just a fifteen-minute drive from downtown Ottawa, is perfect for winter hikers seeking a unique adventure. The park’s extensive trail network, usually bustling in warmer months, becomes quieter during the winter. Lace up your boots and check out trails like the Pioneers Trail, Sugarbush Trail, or Lauriault Trail, each offering its own difficulty level. It’s recommended to bring spikes or crampons and use caution during your hikes, as some trails may be icy. As with any outdoor adventure, ensure you adhere to the principles of Leave No Trace.
2. Mer Bleue Conservation Area
Just 20 minutes east of Ottawa lies the Mer Blue Conservation Area, where frozen wetlands create a surreal winter wonderland experience. This ecological treasure transforms into the perfect place for winter walking and hiking, with more than 20 kilometres of trails. Check out the Dewberry Trail, Trail 53, and the Mer Bleue Bog Trail for hikes that cater to all ages and abilities.
3. Stony Swamp
Located in Ottawa’s southwest end, Stony Swamp is a protected area in the Ottawa Valley. This gem has over 40 kilometres of trails—more than any other place in the Greenbelt area. The Sarsaparilla Trail, in particular, weaves through dense forests and frozen wetlands, providing hikers with a chance to witness the resilience of nature in the winter. Keep in mind that during the cold months, dogs are not allowed on any Greenbelt trails. However, they are permitted year-round on the Greenbelt Pathway East.
4. Luskville Falls Trail
Venture just beyond Ottawa’s borders into the enchanting Gatineau Hills for an adventure on the Luskville Falls Trail. This winter hiking gem has a moderate difficulty rating, providing a unique blend of elevation, natural beauty, and frozen waterfalls. While the parking lot is typically closed in the winter, the trail is not. Spikes or crampons are a must to make the most of your experience.
Winter Hiking Tips
As you plan your winter hiking adventure in and around Ottawa, careful preparation is essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:
- Dress in Layers: The key to staying warm while hiking is layering. Usually, your layers should consist of a moisture-wicking base, a few cozy insulating layers, and a waterproof or windproof outer layer.
- Footwear Matters: Opt for insulated, waterproof boots with good traction to navigate snow-covered trails and icy surfaces. Bring spikes or crampons for extra reassurance.
- Carry the Essentials: No matter the difficulty level or length of the trail, it’s important to pack the essentials in a backpack, like extra clothing, high-energy snacks, a map, and a flashlight.
- Stay Hydrated: Carry a thermos with a warm drink to keep you hydrated throughout your hike.
- Check Trail Conditions: Verify trail conditions and weather forecasts before heading out. Some trails may close down during extreme weather for safety.
For more tips on what to do in the Ottawa area, check out our blog at CLV Group!