Canada’s Capital is a cycling enthusiast’s dream destination with more than 800 kilometres (497 miles) of beautiful recreational pathways that link natural areas, parks, gardens and national historic sites. No matter the cycling skill level, Ottawa’s scenic pathways have something to offer the beginner to the more seasoned biker. Cycling is an Ottawa activity the whole family can enjoy together!
But where do you go with the little ones in tow? We have a route for you to consider. Discover this great Ottawa River family-friendly bike route, which stretches from the Ottawa Locks to the Canadian War Museum and beyond.
The Ottawa River Route:
Along the Ottawa River west of downtown, past numerous attractions, ending at a collection of unique, balanced rock sculptures – 5 kilometres (one-way) according to Google Maps cycling route.
- The Ottawa River pathway westward follows the Ottawa River and features very gentle terrain that passes by a number of Ottawa’s attractions, including the Ottawa Locks of the Rideau Canal, the Bytown Museum, Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Canadian War Museum, and beautiful balanced rock sculptures on the shore. Along the way, there are lovely views of Gatineau, Québec, located on the other side of the Ottawa River.
- Some sections of the pathway are lined with grassy parkland where people can stop for a rest, take photos and enjoy the scenery.
- The Ottawa River pathway starts near the Bytown Museum, which traces the history of Ottawa’s early years from the construction of the Rideau Canal to the city’s emergence as Canada’s capital. The museum is located next to the Ottawa Locks, the beautiful flights of eight locks through which boats can enter the Rideau Canal (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) from the Ottawa River.
- Take the Ottawa River pathway down towards the river and continue west on the path.
- You’ll see the Parliament Buildings on the cliff above you, followed by the Supreme Court of Canada. On the other side of the Ottawa River (on the shores of Gatineau, Québec) you’ll see the undulating beige buildings that make up the Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization).
- A bit farther west, on Victoria Island, you’ll see various Aboriginal structures (teepee, wigwam, longhouse) in a village-like setting: this is an attraction called Aboriginal Experiences that offers programming to visiting groups.
- Soon after, you’ll see signs for the Mill Street Brew Pub, a family-friendly restaurant located on the shore of the Ottawa River in an historic grist mill rich in industrial heritage and charm. This is a great place to stop for a bite to eat or a beverage!
- Continue west on the pathway. Approximately 2.8 kilometres from the Bytown Museum, you’ll cross Booth Street/Chaudière Crossing where the Canadian War Museum is located. There’s some space outside near the water’s edge to take a break and interpretive signs that provide historical information about the nearby Chaudière Falls. There’s a café and washrooms inside the Museum.
- Continue west on the pathway. Approximately 5 kilometres from the Bytown Museum, you’ll reach Remic Rapids, an area of shallow shoreline on which local artist John Felice Ceprano builds beautiful balanced rock sculptures each summer. There are basic washroom facilities here.
- More active families can continue west on the pathways and cycle to Westboro or Britannia public beaches, and beyond, or head north across the Champlain Bridge to cycle on the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River, where pathways also line the water’s edge.
Paid parking garages are available throughout downtown Ottawa and near the departure point, including at the CF Rideau Centre shopping mall, the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel, the National Arts Centre and other major sites. Parking is also available at the Canadian War Museum for a fee and at Remic Rapids.
There are washroom facilities at the museums along the way, and there are basic washroom facilities at Remic Rapids.
This is only one option to get the family started! To learn more about cycling in Ottawa, browse the Cycling section of Ottawa Tourism’s website.