From beginner-friendly and challenging cross-country ski trails, to exciting downhill ski centres, the Ottawa-Gatineau region is a skier’s delight once the snow arrives! With vast green spaces and the famous Gatineau Park, located just 20 minutes from the downtown core, Canada’s Capital region has something to offer the speed addict downhill skiers and those who prefer a more leisurely pace on a scenic snow-covered trail.
Even the city’s public parks such as Mooney’s Bay offer groomed cross-country skiing trails. Ottawa is also host to two major annual cross-country events: The Canadian Ski Marathon and the Gatineau Loppet, which draw competitors from around the world.
With so many trails and ski hills located within an easy driving distance of the bustling cosmopolitan downtown core, Ottawa is a great skiing destination for beginners and experts alike!
Whether you’re looking for cross-country trails or an alpine skiing experience, Gatineau Park is a great place to start!
Located at just a 20-minute drive from Ottawa’s downtown core in Gatineau, Québec, the park offers more than 50 cross-country trails of varying difficulty that stretch over 200 kilometres (124 miles) of wilderness.
Cross-country skiing circuits vary from 7.9 kilometres (5 miles) to 40 kilometres (25 miles) and include flat as well as hilly terrain that offers 320 metres (1,050 feet) of vertical drop. Admission to Gatineau Park is free throughout the year, but a Cross-Country Ski Pass is required to use the ski trails in the winter season. Season passes are available or a daily pass can be purchased for $16 CDN per person.
Gatineau Park offers a great cross-country experience for any skier, as 10 cozy wood cabin shelters can be found throughout the park along various trails. With picnic tables, wood-burning stoves and candlelight, these cabins are a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch or dinner, to rest and to warm up. And to take your cross-country experience one step further, Gatineau Park also has winter camping four-season tents, yurts and wood cabins available for rent. Ski to your refuge during the day and spend a cozy, restful night in the beautiful, quiet, snow-covered park!
Also, if you want to find your own way around the park, you can explore the digitized Gatineau Park Winter Map, which shows not only ski trails, but snowshoe trails and walking trails as well. There is also a FREE Android app that you can use to check on the park’s ski trail conditions.
This downhill ski centre is downtown Ottawa’s closest ski resort! Located at 300 Chemin Dunlop in Chelsea, Québec, Camp Fortune is also part of Gatineau Park and offers more than 20 different downhill runs that vary in skiing levels from easy to “extremely difficult.” The ski centre is also popular for night skiing with 12 brightly lit runs available from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. Due to its close proximity to the downtown core, you can take in some of Ottawa’s premier cultural attractions during the day and go skiing at night!
And if you’ve mastered going down the Camp Fortune mountain from its highest elevation at 180 metres (590 feet), why not visit the terrain park? The mountain park features 12 trick hits, including rails, boxes and a wall. Access to the terrain park is included in your ski or snowboarding lift ticket. Lessons and equipment rentals are also available on site.
Explore Gatineau Park with Tours Expédition Ottawa:
If you want to go cross-country skiing in Gatineau Park but you aren’t sure where to start, Tours Expédition Ottawa is a great option.
This newer Ottawa-based company opened in July 2014 and offers private, VIP-style guided tours of the park through hiking, canoeing or during the winter months (roughly December to March), cross-country skiing. Your friendly, bilingual guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you to Gatineau Park, while also providing all the cross-country skiing gear and extra layers you might need.
Follow your guide along the trails as he takes you to some of the expansive park’s most scenic locations and cosiest wood warm up cabins. A gourmet picnic-style lunch is included in this cross-country day tour, which can accommodate one to four participants at a time.
Mooney’s Bay Ski Centre:
Located just outside of downtown Ottawa at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility (at Mooney’s Bay Park), the Mooney’s Bay Ski Centre offers 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) of groomed and brightly lit cross-country skiing trails. This is a great place to learn how to cross-country ski or to just get out for some winter outdoor adventure.
Enjoy the trails and then warm up with some hot chocolate in the centre’s ski shop. Classic cross-country skiing and skate skiing lessons are available. Admission is $3 CDN for the day and ski rentals are available on site. The centre is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. This is an affordable way to take in a quintessential Canadian experience!
Located at about a half hour drive from downtown Ottawa, Ski Vorlage is a family ski centre in Wakefield, Québec, which caters to children and beginner alpine skiiers. Here, downhill enthusiasts can enjoy 15 different runs, of which 13 are available for night skiing six days a week. And like Camp Fortune, “Vorlage” as it’s known locally, also offers a trick rail and box terrain park. Once you’ve mastered the 149-metre (490-foot) vertical, head to the park to see what else you can do on skis or on a snowboard. Lessons and equipment rentals are also available on site.
Also located in Wakefield, Québec – just a short drive from downtown Ottawa – Edelweiss Valley ski centre offers 20 different downhill runs with nine being ideal for beginners, five catering to intermediate level skiers and six designated for the true expert skiers. Edelweiss’ longest trail is Easy Street, which snakes and makes its way down the scenic mountain over 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles). Like other local ski centres, Edelweiss offers night skiing on 13 brightly lit and groomed runs. Edelweiss is also home to one of the Ottawa-Gatineau region’s greatest terrain parks, which offers trick snow rollers, rails, boxes and walls. There is an additional fee for the terrain park. Lessons and equipment rentals are also available on site.
Mont Cascades ski resort:
Located in nearby Cantley, Québec, about a half hour drive from downtown Ottawa, “Mont Cascades” as it’s known locally, offers a big cozy ski chalet and 20 different runs for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. This ski centre also offers 15 brightly lit night skiing runs; the largest amount of night time runs in the Ottawa-Gatineau region! Mont Cascades’ longest run is Gratton, which makes its way down the mountain over two kilometres (1.2 miles). Lessons and equipment rentals are available on site.
Mount Pakenham ski resort:
Located at about a 45-minute drive from Ottawa in the town of Pakenham, Ontario, this small vertical is a great place to try downhill skiing or snowboarding for the first time!
With a vertical drop of 85 metres (280 feet), “Mount Pakenham” as it’s known locally, offers 10 beginner-friendly runs as well as a T-Bar lift and a Carpet lift, which make it easier for little ones and beginners to access the hill’s terrain. Expert skiiers and snowboarders can also have fun at this smaller resort’s terrain park and in its wooded trails known as “glades.” Lessons and equipment rentals are available on site.
Calabogie Peaks resort:
Located at about an hour drive from downtown Ottawa, Calabogie Peaks offers 80 acres of skiable terrain and 29 different trails. Of those trails, 30 per cent are beginner-friendly, 40 per cent are intermediate-friendly and 30 per cent are for the advanced or expert skier. Calabogie is considered to be the best mountain in Eastern Ontario!
With a base elevation of 154 metres (505 feet), Calabogie’s longest trail is 2.1 kilometres (1.3 miles). Explore the trails and if you’re looking for more of a challenge, visit one of the hill’s three ski and snowboard terrain parks. Lessons and equipment rentals are available on site.
And after a day or two of skiing, you might be in need of a bit of relaxation. There is no better place to go than Nordik Spa-Nature.
Located just outside of Gatineau Park in Chelsea, Québec, this year-round outdoor spa is the largest of its kind in North America, offering relaxing massages and rejuvenating Nordic baths. Let your tired muscles recover in one of the spa’s many hot tubs and saunas, then cozy up by a roaring fire with a great glass of wine. This is the perfect end to a snowy action-packed ski day in Ottawa-Gatineau!