If you come to Ottawa, make sure to bring your cycling gear. Canada’s capital is a cycling enthusiast’s dream destination with more than 600 kilometres (373 miles) of beautiful recreational pathways that link natural areas, parks, gardens and national historic sites.
On nice days, cycle along the Ottawa River pathways that make their way past Parliament Hill to the Canadian War Museum and beyond. Or opt to go south and follow the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, past the new TD Place at Lansdowne stadium all the way to the picturesque Dows Lake.
No matter the cycling skill level, Ottawa’s pathways have something to offer the beginner to the more seasoned bike rider. And if you can’t bring your cycling gear, there’s no need to worry. You can rent equipment – even a helmet and a bike lock – in Ottawa’s downtown core!
If you weren’t able to travel to Ottawa with your bicycle, there’s no need to worry! Locally owned RentABike is located right downtown, offering bike rentals by the hour or by the day. Choose your ride from a selection of 300 new bikes that come complete with a helmet and bike lock.
During the summer months (from late May to early September), take advantage of NOKIA Sunday Bikedays, which see more than 50 kilometres (31 miles) of parkways in Ottawa and the surrounding Gatineau, Québec region closed to motorists from 9:00 a.m. to about 1:00 p.m. and reserved for cyclists, in-line skaters, runners and walkers. Enjoy a worry-free ride, as you won’t need to keep an eye out for traffic!
Many bike paths twist and snake their way through Ottawa’s downtown core, but those along the city’s outskirts are also worth a visit. Ottawa’s main bike path is the Ottawa River Pathway, which stretches for more than 31 kilometres (19.3 miles) along the water, past attractions such as the Ottawa Locks, Parliament Hill and the Canadian War Museum. This pathway also provides great views of the Canadian Museum of History, located just across the river.
And if you venture along this pathway, make sure to visit the National Capital Commission’s (NCC) Eco-TOTEM Bike Counter, located on the Ontario side of the Portage Bridge. The Eco-TOTEM tool counts and displays the number of cyclists that pass by it in real time. Installed in 2013, Ottawa is one of the first Canadian cities to have such a counter! And you can even monitor the counter’s results on the Ottawa-Portage Bridge website.
Just outside of Ottawa’s downtown core is the Experimental Farm Pathway, which winds its way through corn fields, quiet farmland and stretches out to the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. The National Capital Commission maintains seven Capital Pathways throughout the city that vary in distance and degree of difficulty.
Gatineau Park, located about a 10-minute drive or 15-minute bike ride from downtown Ottawa, is a mountain biker’s paradise! From May to November, visitors can take advantage of about 90 kilometres (56 miles) of shared hiking trails that make their way over hilly, rugged terrain. Gatineau Park’s trails are not recommended for the beginner mountain biker.
For those looking for more of an adrenaline rush, Camp Fortune—a downhill ski centre in Gatineau Park—opens its slopes to experienced mountain bikers for the summer. The centre is also home to a cross-country and downhill mountain biking race series!