The Ottawa region boasts excellent hiking trails that let you discover the true beauty of the region. In this article, we’ll explore the 10 best hiking trails near Ottawa, but only after we cover some hiking essentials to help you stay safe and comfortable.
What to Take When Exploring the Best Hiking Trails Near Ottawa
Preparations for a hiking trip aren’t overly complicated. You’ll need some basic gear and supplies, so let’s cover the essentials.
Of course, we’ll start with the footwear, which should fit the terrain type you’re traversing. For general purposes, it would be best to choose the middle route between practicality and comfort. This means mid-cut boots with a good balance of natural and synthetic materials. That way, your footwear will be breathable, light, and protective at the same time.
Dressing in layers is the next tip, allowing you to stay safe from moisture and wind while always having the option to take a layer off to cool down if needed. Beware of cotton, since it gathers moisture faster than other materials and never forget to wear a hat.
Lastly, bring a hiking backpack with some essentials, including food and water. A GPS will always come in handy, as will first-aid and some survival gear. However, make sure to pack light so you don’t end up exhausted halfway through.
Consider Adequate Insurance
Whether you’re planning a shorter or longer trip, getting a travel insurance policy is a wise move. A comprehensive policy will protect you in the case of unforeseen complications, so stay on top of things by planning for the unpredictable.
If you care for extra comfort and want to add a bit more to your policy, taking travel credit card insurance may be the more suitable solution. This insurance type can cover specific circumstances like delays, luggage issues, and particular medical situations.
The Best Hiking Trails Near Ottawa
Situated at the King Mountain, Gatineau Park is a relatively easy trail spanning a total length of 1.9 kilometres. It features 10 lookout points that reveal stunning vistas of the Ottawa River and its colourful valley.
Although the trail isn’t particularly challenging, take notice that it does include a few steep slopes, as well as stairs.
South March Trail
Spanning the South March Highlands Conservation Forest, this trail showcases the region’s beauty and majesty. With nearly 8.5 kilometres of the trail requiring almost two hours to complete, you’ll have more than enough time to admire the landscape.
For the best experience, avoid the fall and winter months when visiting the South March Trail. The warmer seasons will also give you an opportunity to spot the various birds that call the forest home.
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Looping around Lac Philippe, the Outaouais trail will make you fall in love with the picturesque lake area. However, the trail is 11 kilometres long and quite challenging, so make sure you bring your most reliable hiking gear for this adventure.
If you don’t mind a more intensive hike, the trail will reward you with exceptional views of both the expansive, serene lake and the lush vegetation surrounding it.
Mer Bleue Conservation Area Loop
The Mer Bleue Conservation Area is home to this charming loop trail bearing the same name. At a moderate pace, you’ll need just over an hour and a half to traverse the trail’s 7.2 kilometres. The hike may take longer for some, since the trail is considered somewhat challenging.
Year-round availability is among the greatest strong points of this trail. Regardless of when you choose to visit, the Mer Bleue Conservation Area loop will be gorgeous and rewarding.
Relatively short but undoubtedly tough, the Luskville Falls trail takes you through the stunning nature of the Eardley Escarpment. The final prize waiting after 4.5 kilometres of the trail is the eponymous Luskville Falls.
Getting to the cascading waters won’t be straightforward, though. Due to the steep terrain, this trail represents quite a challenge for all but the most experienced hikers. For that reason, you should bring your sturdiest boots for the trip.
Klondike, North Dogsled, and Beartree
The South March Highlands Conservation Forest hides another example of the best hiking trails near Ottawa. The Klondike, North Dogsled, and Beartree loop trail is popular among bikers, hikers, and bird lovers alike.
This trail spans five kilometres. However, since it’s relatively challenging, you may need well over an hour to finish the hike. But even if it’s a bit tiring, the journey is well worth it for the incredible natural beauty you’ll see along the way.
Manitou Mountain Trail
Hiking along the Calabogie Peaks is a treat, and the Manitou Mountain Trail allows you to experience the best of this fascinating area. You’ll pass through a pristine forest region dominated by pine trees and take in the awe-inspiring sights from the three lookouts. At the end of the trail’s nine kilometres, you’ll feel rejuvenated and fulfilled.
The trail is of intermediate difficulty, so it’s a good thing there’s a shuttle vehicle waiting for you at the end. Since this isn’t a loop track, the shuttle will save you from returning by foot.
Pinhey Forest 31 Trail
If you’re in the mood for a relaxing hike in the forest, the 31 Trail in Pinhey Forest will provide just that. This is an easy loop trail that spans a total of 3.5 kilometres. On average, you can complete it in less than an hour, although you might want to take more time just to prolong the experience.
Since the trail doesn’t represent a challenge and is exceptionally enjoyable, you likely won’t be alone. Plenty of mountain bikers and hikers take the opportunity to take in the calming surroundings during all seasons. And in the winter, the trail welcomes cross-country skiers.
Overlooking the Ottawa Valley, the Eagle’s Nest trail provides an exceptional view from the cliff top. However, the views and surrounding nature aren’t the only factors that make this one of the best hiking trails near Ottawa. Eagle’s Nest is also a crucial area for the peoples of the First Nations – in fact, it’s a Sacred Site.
This trail is eight kilometres long and, since it’s not a loop trail, this length includes both the trip out and the return hike. In other words, you can witness the beauty twice.
Lime Kiln and Chipmunk Trails
Wrapping up with a pair of easy yet stunning trails, the Lime Kiln and Chipmunk Trails are the outstanding features of the National Capital Commission (NCC) Greenbelt. With perfect nature and breathtaking views, the interlinking trails offer a relaxing, memorable hiking experience.
The trails have a total length of 4.2 kilometres and will take about an hour to traverse. Since they’re widely popular, you’ll also get a chance to meet some new friends along the way.
Explore the Best Hiking Trails Near Ottawa
The surrounding region of the capital city has plenty of trails to offer. It’s a versatile area with trails of all difficulties, providing you with an opportunity to explore the area exactly how you like it. Visit the best hiking trails near Ottawa and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with everything you’ll see out there.
FAQs About Hiking Trails Near Ottawa
Some trails around Ottawa may be too challenging for kids. However, there are plenty of kid-friendly options among the best hiking trails near Ottawa.
All of the mentioned hiking trails feature a variety of flora and fauna. The trails in the NCC Greenbelt are outstanding in this regard, counting among the most diverse in this part of the country.
Although many trails are open year-round, it would be best to avoid the colder months. Instead, opt for spring or summer for the ultimate experience.
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