Nearly 100 km of groomed trails await you in Ottawa this winter

Winter is a big part of living in the capital, and Ottawa has a groomed winter trail network that’s nearly 100 kilometres.

There are trails throughout the city, including one that is classified by the National Capital Commission as located in the City Centre; The Rideau Winter Trail is 12 km that runs along the eastern side of the Rideau River, from North River Road (Donald Street) to Bank Street.

"I come every day, I come up and down the trail - it really gives me good exercise," says Bob Tipple, who was out on his cross-country skis Friday afternoon. "It’s a beautiful day, blue sky, beautiful snow, fantastic day!"

The groomed trail is now in its second season.

"Our trail is free to use, it’s completely run by volunteers; and, anyone can come and use it.  People come and walk, they come and cross-country ski, skate ski, classic ski, winter bike, snowshoe, everything," says Peter Nor, president of the Rideau Winter Trail. "We’re absolutely really lucky in Ottawa."

It’s one of many groomed winter trails in the capital region.

"We have a great network of community-driven groomed trails," says Dominque Huras, strategic communications advisor with the National Capital Commission.

And, the trails continue to expand, like the Scott Street Connector addition to the Kichi Sibi Winter Trail.

"It’s about connecting communities," says Kris Phillips, with the Kitchi Sibi Winter Trail. "Frankly, what a great way, especially during these bizarre COVID times to get people outdoors, enjoying some of the fresh air that we’ve got here; and, the scenery, brother – get down to the river, it is phenomenal in the morning," he tells CTV News Ottawa.

If you have wanted to try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, but the cost of equipment is a barrier to try, the Ottawa Outdoor Gear Library can help.

"We recognize that Ottawa has a lot of opportunities for being outdoors, but access to those opportunities aren’t equal for everybody; so, we exist to make access to the outdoors a more equitable process,” says Sherry Wu, co-ordinator.

The Ottawa Outdoor Gear Library has a pop-up location at the Overbrook Community Centre.

"We’re located about 800 metres from the Rideau Winter Trail,” says Wu.

It’s open on Tuesdays and Saturdays; you can reserve online, through the website.

They are also actively looking for outdoor equipment to be donated.

While enjoying the weather along the Rideau Winter Trail, you can have a break at one of five fire pits at the Bridge Public House.

"Our base camp for the Rideau Winter Trail is the Bridge Public House, which has these fire pits; they can be rented for two-hour blocks, and you can be served out here, mingle with your friends, it’s a safe way to be outside and have fun," says Nicki Bridgland. "And then you can order off our regular menu."

It costs $40 to reserve a fire pit, with half of the money donated to the trail as a fundraiser.