The Ottawa Valley in the Ontario’s Highlands region beckons cyclists to escape the hustle and bustle of urban centers and crowded streets and slow down the pace in a more rural setting.
So what can a cyclist expect when choosing the Ottawa Valley for their next cycling adventure? Read on to find out!
Located 30 minutes west of Ottawa and less than 4 hours from Toronto, the Ottawa Valley is a place steeped in culture where one can blend a variety of heritage and outdoor recreation opportunities. And while the region may be renowned as the Whitewater Capital of Canada, two-wheeled adventures abound, where cycle-friendly communities and service providers welcome cyclists.
Quiet country roads that wind their way through verdant farmland, climb to challenging elevations and meander through quaint towns and villages offer cyclists many opportunities to discover hidden gems and experience Valley hospitality first-hand.
More than a dozen road-riding routes that vary in distance and difficulty are scattered across the Ottawa Valley. An added bonus is the region’s close proximity to western Québec which provides opportunities to hopscotch the mighty Ottawa River and connect with the famous Route Verte.
Avid and touring cyclists counting the kilometres and looking for challenging elevation gains can choose from a number of single and multi-day routes, such as the Barry’s Bay-Quadeville Quadbuster, Loop the Lakes, Madawaska River Randonnée, Whitewater Rush and Opeongo Loop. The Voyageur Route, which follows the Ottawa River for more than 250kms, connects north and eastern Ontario through a combination of road and rail trail riding.
Shorter routes, such as the Cyclotron, Renfrew Ramble and rides around Eganville, provide leisure cyclists with day trip opportunities to explore cycle-friendly communities including Deep River, Renfrew and Eganville.
Interconnected rail lines that once bustled with train activity now serve as multi-use trail corridors perfectly suited for families, active transportation users and long-distance riders.
The K&P Trail, once part of the original Kingston to Pembroke rail line, begins in Renfrew and travels south to Calabogie where it continues through Lanark and Frontenac counties to Kingston. In Renfrew, cyclists can also connect with the Millennium Trail for a shorter ride along the former CN rail line.
The K&P Trail also connects with the region’s newest multi-use rail trail – the Ottawa Valley Recreational Trail, known locally as the Algonquin Trail. The Ottawa Valley Recreational Trail begins in Smiths Falls and travels for almost 300kms through Renfrew County to Mattawa on a mix of stone dust and ballast. Work on this trail is on-going and users are encouraged to check trail conditions before heading out.
Cyclists looking for a multi-day rail trail ride will want to consider the Choo-Choo Loop which follows the K&P, Cataraquai and Ottawa Valley Recreational Trails for almost 400km.
Gravel riders will find hundreds of kilometres of unpaved roads that criss-cross the region over classic Canadian Shield accessing all sorts of wild and scenic places; while mountain biking trails cater to those looking for a challenge. Mountain biking enthusiasts regularly flock to the BORCA and Forest Lea Trail systems for four-season cycling and winter fat-biking opportunities. Combined, these two trail networks offer more than 50kms of riding through forests and over rocky terrain.
Guided Tours & Rentals
Cyclists looking for a supported ride with luggage transfers, guided trip or rentals can book services with Valley Cycle Tours. And new to the region is Ottawa Valley Adventures which offers e-bike rentals and guided trips throughout the Madawaska Highlands where the pedal assist is a welcomed treat for some of the elevation gains!
Whether stopping at a restaurant or picking up snacks at a farm gate stand for a picnic by a lake; visiting a local attraction or overnighting between rides; one thing is guaranteed – cyclists will always be greeted with a Valley G’Day!
Photo Credits: Ottawa Valley Tourism Association