While visiting Ottawa, cyclists shouldn't miss the opportunity to explore the Capital Pathway network, which offers scenic routes connecting world-class museums, art galleries, and other attractions. The Capital Pathway network is also known for its two showcase pathway systems: the Ottawa River Pathway, as well as the Rideau Canal Western and Eastern Pathways, which hug the Rideau River and the Rideau Canal, Ontario's only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With a variety of cycling events throughout the year, from Victoria Day weekend to Labour Day weekend, cyclists can enjoy Sunday Bikedays, where over 50 kilometres of parkways in Ottawa and Gatineau Park are reserved for cyclists, in-line skaters, runners and walkers. Whether you want to know where to park or what services you will find along the way, the new online Sunday Bikedays map provides the information you need.
Truly a bicycle-friendly destination, in 2013, Ottawa was the first city in the province of Ontario to receive the gold-level "Bicycle Friendly Community Award" presented by Share the Road Cycling Coalition. There is no better time to visit the nation's capital by bike!
For regional listings of bicycle friendly businesses to eat, visit and sleep visit the Ottawa - Ontario By Bike Map
Major Off-Road Trails
As of 2013, the City of Ottawa manages 258 km of multi-use pathways, many of which connect with other city cycling infrastructure such as bike lanes and roads with paved shoulders. Visit maps.ottawa.ca/geoottawa and select 'Cycling' under "More Layers" to find all of the off-road paths located in Ottawa. Listed below are a few examples of many off-road trails in city.
- O-Train Pathway – A 1.2 km multi-use path runs parallel to the O-Train rail service and offers cyclists a connection between the Trans Canada Trail in the north (Ottawa River) and Little Italy, located in the south western area of the city.
- East End to Petrie Island – Cyclists riding east along the Ottawa River Pathway (NCC) will eventually reach Roslyn Avenue, where the paved trail ends and turns into a quiet residential street. Bike route signs indicate cyclists travel straight and veer right at Hiawatha Park Road to connect to an additional 8 km multi-use trail (trail head on east side of road) with picturesque views of the Ottawa River. At Trim Road, head north to ride on to Petrie Island, a significant regional wetland with a beach and recreation area.
- Andrew Haydon Park and Moodie Drive Multi-Use Trail – Heading west out of the city along the Trans Canada Trail / Ottawa River Pathway, cyclists can hug the south shore of the Ottawa River and take a scenic ride 4.2 km through Andrew Haydon Park and south parallel with Moodie Drive to reconnect with the Trans Canada Trail.
- The Capital Pathway network – Canada's Capital Region is home to the Capital Pathway network, one of the largest in North America. More than 600 kilometres of multi-use paths link superb natural areas, parks, gardens, museums and attractions. The paths are great for cycling and many other activities, such as walking running and in-line skating. The National Capital Commission (NCC) manages a part of the Capital Pathway network (200 km). Enjoy fresh air, exercise and scenic landscapes on paths that extend from Gatineau Park, through Ottawa and into the Greenbelt. The network links the Capital to the whole of Canada via the 15,000km Trans Canada Trail. The pathways in the Outaouais are also part of the 4,000km Route Verte network. The NCC also has a 24-hour emergency assistance line: 613-239-5353.
- Ottawa River Pathway – This 31 km pathway follows the Ottawa River and passes a number of Ottawa's attractions. Stop along the way at the Canadian War Museum, Parliament Hill and the Ottawa Locks at the northern end of the Rideau Canal, which is not only a National Historic Site of Canada, but also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Rideau Canal Western and Eastern Pathways – Hugging both the western and eastern shores of the Rideau Canal, there are over 16 km of off-road paved multi-use pathways.
- Rideau River Eastern Pathway - This 12 km multi-use pathway takes cyclists from the Ottawa River, where it meets the Rideau River at the falls, all the way to Hog's Back Park's Falls and further on still.
- Experimental Farm Pathway – This 8.5 km paved, multi-use path offers cyclists a leisurely ride through both wooded and open areas, leading to the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, south of downtown Ottawa. Cyclists have access to public parking and washrooms along the way.
- Greenbelt Pathways – Cyclists can explore the Greenbelt through the Watts Creek Pathway (9.3 km) and Greenbelt Pathways East (4.6 km) and West (10.4 km). The Greenbelt Pathway West is mostly flat trail with both asphalt and stone dust surfaces connecting to Watts Creek Pathway. The Greenbelt Pathway East is a stone dust trail that connects to the Ottawa River Pathway. Located west of Ottawa is Shirleys Bay, where cyclists can stop for a picnic by the shore on the Ottawa River.
- Leamy Lake Pathway – Located in the Gatineau area of Quebec, this 3.5 km pathway allows cyclists to discover Leamy Lake Park, the largest urban park in the Capital Region. This site offers a public beach, picnic tables with barbecue pits and seasonal washrooms.
- Voyageurs Pathway – This 30 km paved, multi-use pathway curves along Quebec's northern side of the Ottawa River and offers spectacular views of Parliament and the Canadian Museum of History.
Mountain Biking Trails
Excellent mountain biking terrain is accessible in a number of areas located both close to the city and within a few hours' drive from downtown Ottawa. Unmarked and unofficial trails also exist in various regions and are often published by online special interest groups. Ottawa Mountain Bike Association
- South March Highlands – Located south west of the city and on City of Ottawa land, this fantastic trail system gets progressively more difficult the further cyclists ride from the trail head.
- Kanata Lakes – Located south west of the city, this trail system has nearly 30 km of fantastic technical riding. With a number of ladders and drops, this is one of the premium mountain biking trail systems located close to Ottawa. Continue along the western portions to head into South March Highlands.
- Green`s Creek Trails – Located 12 km east of downtown Ottawa, this conservation area marks the eastern end of the Greenbelt and boasts over 5km of trails available for mountain bikers and other cyclists. The area is easily accessible from both the Greenbelt Pathway and Ottawa River Pathways.
- Park Trails – Many of the city parks have paved and unpaved multi-use trails that, while not overly challenging, they may be suitable for mountain biking. Be sure to check www.maps.ottawa.ca - select "Cycling" to view "Paths" located in parks.
Ottawa Bike Park
- Ottawa Nepean BMX Association – First time users can ride this track for free, however after subsequent visits riders must pay an entrance fee. This BMX track is located at 2020 Ogilvie Road, Ottawa
Explore the city on the 23km Downtown Explorer self guided route. With so much to see and do, getting around the capital city by bike is the perfect way to get to know the city more intimately, see the top attractions, and have a great day out, all on two wheels. www.ontariobybike.ca/ottawarideguide
Information Sources and Published Maps
- Cycling Map: Ottawa-Gatineau - New in 2015 and brought to you in partnership by the National Capital Commission, the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Tourism, Tourism Oataouais and the City of Gatineau, the Ottawa-Gatineau Cycling Map offers cyclists a comprehensive online map of the region`s multi-use paths, bike lanes, off-road paths and information on the Cycle Hop bike share stations. Also available in FRENCH.
- Capital Pathway network - The National Capital Commission manages a part of the total cycling network (200 km). This online resource offers cyclists access to maps and other important travel details, such as distances, access to various attractions and more. Newly featured this year are two suggested cycling loops, one that suits cyclists of all ages and abilities and another for the more advanced cyclist. This online mapping tool makes it easy for cyclists on the go to locate the services they need along the way.
- Ottawa Cycling Map - The City of Ottawa produced a detailed cycling map available in print versions, digital format and an interactive online map. This map includes sections of the Trans Canada Trail and the Capital Pathway Network. Maps can also be found at many visitor information centres as well as at select bicycle shops, client service centres, libraries and community centres.
- GeoOttawa - This online mapping program has been developed by the City of Ottawa and offers cyclists an up-to-date and easy to navigate online tool to planning cycling experiences in the region. By selecting various layers, users can find the best cycling infrastructure to ride while on their cycling trip.
For information on accommodations, attractions and more, visit Ottawa Tourism
*Please note there are many additional map guides for the region that cyclists may find interesting or useful. New maps and guides are produced yearly, and the information listed here may change.