Winters in Ottawa can be tough. The shorter days and colder weather can be discouraging, making everyone feel like going straight home after work and staying in until the next day. While becoming a hermit seems like the most appealing option in the winter, sometimes it’s worth finishing your day off with a little fresh air. A great way to do that is by taking a short hike to observe the hibernating forests and watch the early sunset. Luckily, Ottawa boasts many nearby scenic hiking trails to discover.
Mary Anne and Vicky from Hike Addicts filled us in on some fun hiking trails worth checking out in Ottawa. So, here are the top 5 winter trails to explore this winter after a day of work.
1) Mer Bleue Conservation Area
This trail is probably one of the most popular in the area, and for good reason. Located towards Ottawa’s east end, this 3,500-hectare conservation area contains beautiful boardwalks and trails suitable for both hiking and cross-country skiing. The gorgeous Mer Bleue Bog Trail boardwalk is a nice, hour-long winter stroll that is short enough to do after a day at the office.
2) Mud Lake
An oasis in the city, Mud Lake is just as appealing in the winter as it is in the summer. Go for a relaxed hike through the wooded area, then watch the skaters and hockey players rip around the rink as the trail snakes along the water. Mud Lake is also Ottawa’s premier spot for birdwatching, so don’t forget your binoculars!
3) South March Highlands
A little slice of heaven in North Kanata, South March Highlands has multi-use trails that are shared by both hikers and bikers. Although the rocky trails are a dream for mountain and *fat biking, they are also ideal for a weeknight jog or a walk with your dog. Many of the trails also house a variety of wildlife and endangered species, so this is another popular area for birdwatching.
4) Healy Shelter – Gatineau Park
This is one of many shelters and cabins in Gatineau Park that you can access this winter for an after-work break. The trail is great for hiking, but if you want to switch things up, grab a pair of snowshoes and enjoy walking after a fresh snowfall. Pack food and a nice warm beverage to make this trip extra magical.
5) The Sir John A. Macdonald Trail
This multi-use winter trail is quite a perk for those living near the Westboro area. Ideal for walking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and biking, the SJAM trail is a great choice for some fresh air after a day inside the office. It stretches along the Ottawa River from the Canadian War Museum to Westboro Beach, so if you’re an active commuter, you might even consider taking the trail to and from work.
Finish your weekdays off right by taking an hour to breathe in the crisp winter air and take in Ottawa’s unique majestic scenery. For more useful tips on hiking in the Ottawa region, check out Hike Addicts on Facebook and Twitter.
*Here’s a little bonus tip for those of you who are fat biking fans. According to photographer and avid biker, Bryan Flannigan, fat biking in Gatineau Park is amazing thanks in part to the work of snowshoers who pack the snow after each snowfall. Good bike and snowshoe traffic make for an exceptionally rideable network throughout the park for most of the winter season. For a quick get-away after work, your best bet is to ride the 66/65/64 network from P1 at the Asticou Centre. It is often the most packed and generally offers the best conditions in the park.
If you have more time, you can get more hills and adventure starting at P17 in Wakefield, which allows you to explore the less travelled 72 and 75 trails. These are perfect for early Saturday or Sunday outings.
To view more of Bryan’s photography, visit his website.