Photo Credit: Ottawa Tourism
The city of Ottawa has a vibrant cycling culture and now boasts over 980 km of multi-use pathways, bike lanes, off-road paths and paved shoulders, as well as thousands of bike parking spaces making sightseeing stops around the city easy. 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. Ottawa is surrounded by beautiful rural areas and fantastic cycling destinations, criss-crossed by quiet roads and showcased through a series of rural cycling routes.
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!
As of 2019, the City of Ottawa manages 350 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.
- Prescott Russell Pathway – The Prescott-Russell Pathway is a 20 km stone dust, multi-use trail extending eastward from the greenbelt near Blair Rd through the Village of Navan where it connects to the longer 72 km Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail at Canaan Road.
- Osgoode Pathway / Doug Thompson Pathway  – The Osgoode Pathway / Doug Thompson Pathway is a 21 km multi-use pathway running on an abandoned rail corridor from Leitrim Road to Buckles Street through the Village of Osgoode.
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 Shirley’s 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.
Ottawa’s rural cycling routes are perfect for a day out or a weekend cycling along quiet roads and picturesque trails. Enjoy stops at historic attractions, country stores, wineries, welcoming farms and markets, conservation areas and more. Routes available in a variety of different lengths, degrees of difficulty and road surfaces. View 16 Self Guided Bicycle Tours in Ottawa and surrounding rural communities through an Online Interactive Map
- Park to Park River Ramble – 47 km on paved country roads, this route has a moderate experience level. Enjoy cycling along portions of the Ottawa River with visits to Fitzroy Provincial Park and Morris Island Conservation Area. Options for cross-provincial cycling, by taking ferry crossing to Quebec Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files
- Out a Way 100k – 100 km on paved country roads, this route is suggested for experienced cyclists. A true tour of northwestern Ottawa with scenic rural riding along routes popular for training and events. Some challenging hill climbs and rewarding descents make stops in Dunrobin, Fitzroy Harbour and Kinburn for refreshments worth it. Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files
- Kanata and North Country Cruise – 32 km on paved country roads, this route is suggested for experienced cyclists. Leaving Kanata North, cyclists quickly connect to pretty farmlands, views of the Ottawa River, Gatineau Hills and wetlands. Stop in at Pinhey’s Point Historic Site. Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files
- Carp and Country Debunker – Approximately 46 km on paved country roads with short unpaved section and has a moderate to experienced level of difficulty. Enjoy views from Carp Ridge on this looped route on quiet roads west of the city. Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files
- North Kanata to Stittsville – 61 km on paved country roads and a moderate to experienced level of difficulty. Enjoy the scenery of Ottawa’s western greenbelt with a stop in Stittsville for a coffee and recharge before heading back to the starting point. Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files
- Munster Meander – 50 km on paved and unpaved country roads and stone-dust trail with a moderate to experienced level of difficulty. From Munster make your way to the Old Mill in Ashton, an authentic English style pub and brewery on the banks of Jock River. Also a stop at Jabulani Vineyard and Winery is suggested before heading back. Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files
- Gatineau Park Out and Back – 27.5 km on paved roads and an experienced level of difficulty. Take in the natural beauty of this ride north of Ottawa that offers up a 100 meter climb and then rewards with a 100 meter descent.Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files
- I Like To See The Water When I Ride – Approximately 39 km on paved trails and roads. With a moderate level of difficulty, this route hugs the Rideau River before crossing the Ottawa River, where it follows the Gatineau River back south along the Rideau Canal to Mooney’s Bay. Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files
- Little Italy / Rideau Canal – 14.2 km, perfect for beginner cyclists, where routing on paved trails avoids vehicular traffic, with views of the Ottawa River/Rideau Canal and a visit Little Italy shops and bistros. Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files
- Manotick South & West – 56 km on paved country roads with a moderate level of difficulty. Take in rural village ambience, in Manotick along the Rideau River. A great spot to start and end your ride with excellent restaurants and cafés. Visit Watson’s Mill, a historic flour and gristmill, still in operation today. Book a stop in at Strathmere Country Retreat post-ride with a 6,000 sq ft spa. Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files
- The Osgoode Ride – 59 km on paved country roads and stone dust trail, rated with an experienced level of difficulty. Start/finish in the village of Osgoode, quickly enjoying the rural lanscapes of Ottawa’s south end. Stop in Metcalfe for refreshments along the route. Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files
- Rail Trail & Winery Ride – 23.5 km on unpaved country roads and stone dust trail, rated with a beginner level of difficulty. Suitable for a hybrid or mountain bike, ride the well-maintained Ottawa Prescott Russell rail trail just south of village of Navan with views across scenic farmland. Connect to a series of quiet unpaved country back roads back towards Navan and be sure to visit the 2 wineries along the route to sample vintages with grapes grown on nearby fields. Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files
- Cumber Tour de Land (Long/Short Route Options) – Short Option 20.5 km and Long Option 69 km, on unpaved country roads and stone dust trail, rated with a beginner level of difficulty. Suitable for a hybrid or mountain bike, ride the well-maintained Ottawa Prescott Russell rail trail just south of village of Navan with views across scenic farmland. Connect to a series of quiet unpaved country back roads back towards Navan and be sure to visit the 2 wineries along the route to sample vintages with grapes grown on nearby fields. Access RidewithGPS mapping and GPS Files – Short Route or Long Route
- Trans Canada Trail (TCT) – This cross-Canada trail runs through Ottawa. The TCT is a four-season, multi-use trail system with various surface types and users. The trail sections within Ottawa include several trails within the Capital Pathway network (see above), as well as the Ottawa-Carleton Trailway.
- The Ottawa-Carleton Trailway extends westward from Bells Corners near Fitzgerald Road through Kanata and Stittsville to Ashton Station Road and beyond to the Town of Carleton Place. Over 23 km in length with a gravel surface. It offers recreational cyclists a scenic, off-road connection between rural Ottawa and the town of Carleton Place, in Lanark County.
- Prescott Russell Recreational Trail – The trail is 72 km and passes through gently rolling countryside, past farms and through historic villages including Vankleek Hill, Plantagenet, Bourget, St. Eugène and Hammond. Mostly soft stone dust, with sections near some towns paved. An additional 22 km trail link titled Prescott Recreational Pathway (see above) now connects Ottawa to this off-road trail.
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 BMX 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
Ontario By Bike Self Guided Itinerary – In 2019, Ontario By Bike hosted a small group tours on a two-day cycling trip on exploring Ottawa and countryside. Enjoy a 45km looped route in the nearby rural countryside around the village of Carp on day one. Stay overnight and on day two ride a 47km loop to make the most of the countless natural, cultural and heritage attractions that are along the way on this route taking in the top sites of city, all by bike visit augustride2019
Ontario By Bike’s – Ottawa Ride Guide – 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 visit ottawarideguide
Capital Cycling Route – This signature route takes visitors around the capital area to see many of the most iconic landmaks and attractions on the safest route and paths possible, suitable for beginners to experts, and fun for families.
- Cycling Map: Ottawa-Gatineau-Outaouais – 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. This is a bilingual map. Print copies can be requested by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Self-Guided Bike Tours – This map provides a colourful overview of the 16 urban and rural self-guided routes in Ottawa. Download and print or find a copy at Ottawa bike stores, hotels and visitor information centres.
- Capital Pathway Network – The National Capital Commission manages a part of the total cycling network (200 km) – multi-use and scenic pathways. This online resource offers cyclists access to maps and other important travel details, such as distances, access to various attractions, parking and more. The online mapping tool makes it easy for cyclists on the go to locate the services they need along the way.
- 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.
- Craft Ottawa – An interactive map with cycling route layer option showing Ottawa and Seaway Valley’s breweries, distilleries, wineries, cideries and meaderies.
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.
For information on accommodations, attractions and more, visit Ottawa Tourism