Best Places for Snowshoeing in Ottawa Beginner’s Guide

Best Places for Snowshoeing in Ottawa: Beginner’s Guide

Unleash the winter adventurer within you and dive into the enchanting world of snowshoeing in Ottawa! The city boasts a myriad of stunning outdoor landscapes just waiting to be explored on foot. 

Step onto the powdery trails, breathe in the crisp winter air, and let the beauty of the snowy wonderland captivate your senses. From tranquil forest trails to picturesque riverbanks, each spot offers a unique experience that will leave you awe-inspired.

So bundle up, strap on your snowshoes, and let’s embark on a thrilling journey through Ottawa’s best places for snowshoeing. We’ll gladly take you through the top places and answer all your most important questions along the way!

1. Gatineau Park 

Website: https://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/places/gatineau-park
Address: 33 Chem. Scott, Chelsea, QC J9B 1R5, Canada
Contact Details: +1 613-239-5000
Operating Hours: 24/7
Length: 80km+
Difficulty: Easy-Difficult

Located just a stone’s throw away from downtown Ottawa, immerse yourself in the winter wonderland of Gatineau Park. In just 15 minutes, you’ll find yourself surrounded by nearly 80km of breathtaking snowshoe trails through picturesque landscapes. 

But watch out for passing snow bikers, because they’ll be using half of the trails we do, and we’re telling you, the last thing you want is an accident while having fun. An awesome snow day can easily become dangerous if you’re not careful.

Now, as you venture into the southern section of the park, the trails become your gateway to winter bliss. For a leisurely stroll, Trail 29 and Trail 68 offer a delightful escape into the snowy wilderness. 

But if you’re up for a challenge that will get your heart racing, Trail 65 and Trail 76 will put your snowshoeing skills to the test. Start your snowy escapades from parking lots P1 and P2, where the trail’s magic truly begins.

A short drive deeper into the park leads you to the charming village of Chelsea, specifically the gentle Trail 63. There you’ll encounter the summer home of the late Prime Minister Mackenzie King and a fascinating collection of architectural ruins. 

For us, it was just like stumbling upon a whimsical winter wonderland! For the seasoned snowshoers seeking an adrenaline rush, Wolf Trail (Trail 62) is a 7.7km loop.

It also has a whopping 220m slope, so hold onto your snowshoes, folks – it’s gonna be a heck of a wild ride!

If you’re a beginner and lack the necessary gear, the Relais plein air du Parc de la Gatineau happily provides equipment for rent. It’s conveniently located in parking lot P2 with direct trail access, making it a go-to spot for all the equipment you need.

Pro Tip:

Make the most of your trip to Gatineau Park and enjoy the natural winter beauty it has to offer by booking a four-season cabin, a yurt, or even a tent for an overnight stay!

2. Camp Fortune

Website: https://campfortune.com/winter/
Address: 33 Chem. Scott, Chelsea, QC J9B 1R5, Canada
Contact Details: +1 819-827-1717 | [email protected]
Operating Hours: Saturday & Sunday — 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Length: N/A
Difficulty: Easy

Tucked away within the majestic Gatineau Park lies a hidden gem for snowshoeing enthusiasts—the Camp Fortune downhill ski center. Here, you can satisfy your craving for adrenaline-pumping snow adventures through an enchanted snowy forest. 

The best part for us is that access to these snowshoe trails is absolutely free if you rent snowshoes from Camp Fortune or if you’re the proud owner of an unlimited ski pass. Talk about an awesome perk, right? 

Gracefully gliding through snowy trails won’t just be a pipedream anymore thanks to Camp Fortune. Trust us when we say you’ll be feeling like a woodland explorer on a mission to uncover the secrets of nature the whole time you’re there! 

The well-marked trails that weave through the breathtaking forests surrounding the ski resort were very helpful, so there’s virtually no chance of you getting lost.

Pro Tip:

If you get too tired from all the winter activities, Camp Fortune’s cozy lodges await, ready to embrace you with warmth, scrumptious food, and washrooms fit for royalty!

3. Le Harfang

Website: https://www.leharfang.com/en/
Address: Britannia Winter Trail, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Contact Details: [email protected]
Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Wednesday — 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Thursday & Friday — 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Saturday & Sunday — 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Length: 17km
Difficulty: Easy-Intermediate

Just a short 30-minute drive from downtown Ottawa lies a winter wonderland known as Le Harfang. With over 350 acres of pristine land, this place is the stuff snowy dreams are made of!

As embarrassing as it sounds, I actually forgot to bring my own snowshoes by the time we arrived at Le Harfang. But thankfully, I didn’t have to go all the way back home to get them since it already offers convenient snowshoe rentals. 

With each step, you’ll feel the crisp snow beneath your feet, as you venture deeper into a snowy paradise. 

It’s like stepping into a real-life snow globe, where every twist and turn reveals a new breathtaking vista. And if you’re a proud fur parent, Le Harfang allows furry companions to join you on your snowshoeing escapades. 

Your four-legged friends can frolic through the snow alongside you, adding an extra level of joy and laughter to your snow day. It’s a winter adventure for the whole family, including those with wagging tails and wet noses.

Pro Tip:

In case you’re not up to snowshoeing, Le Harfang also offers fat bike rentals so you can still have a ton of fun in the snow!

4. Britannia Winter Trail

Website: https://britanniawintertrail.com/social-media/
Address: Britannia Winter Trail, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Contact Details: [email protected]
Operating Hours: N/A
Length: 16.89km
Difficulty: Easy-Intermediate

Britannia Winter Trail is a short 15-minute drive away from Ottawa where you can find yourself strapping on those trusty snowshoes for a 17km journey of frosty fun!

Going down this trail was just like winding through a winter wonderland, along the Trans-Canada Trail, with the Ottawa River gently whispering by your side. 

It’s like a snowy ribbon that connects the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway and Andrew Haydon Park, offering a pristine path for snowshoers and other winter activities.

So, while you’re out there, you might just encounter some friendly folks on skis, cyclists on their fat bikes, or even some adventurous souls out for a leisurely winter stroll. It’s almost funny how easy it is to make new friends along the way here!

Pro Tip:

Hungry but didn’t bring any food with you? The moment you step into the nearby Britannia Coffeehouse, it’ll welcome you with cozy drinks and hearty meals. 

The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and cookies, and the comforting warmth of hot chocolate make for a great way to warm up after a snow day. It’s the perfect spot to thaw those frozen toes and refuel with some delicious goodies!

5. Kichi Sibi Winter Trail

Website: https://www.wintertrail.ca/
Address: Kichi Sibi Winter Trail Ottawa, ON, Canada K1Z5B1
Contact Details: [email protected]
Operating Hours: 24/7
Length: 18km
Difficulty: Easy-Intermediate

Kichi Sibi Winter Trail, formerly known as the Sir John A MacDonald or SJAM Trail is conveniently nestled beside the picturesque Ottawa River. It offers a delightful escape from city life and a chance to frolic in the snow minutes away from downtown.

It winds its way westward from the Canadian War Museum, which is actually a great spot to take photos during the night! It’ll then take you through vibrant neighborhoods brimming with life, like Wellington West and Westboro Village.

What we loved about this trail the most is how it seamlessly blends urban flair with the tranquility of nature. You’re neither too far away from civilization nor are you stuck in the hustle and bustle of the urban jungle.

The trail presents not one, but two meticulously groomed tracks—on one side, you get a designated path for snowshoers, fat-bikers, and walkers. On the other side, cross-country skiers get to glide gracefully without fear of any accidents

With 18km of exploration at your snowy fingertips, the Kichi Sibi Winter Trail invites you to uncover its hidden treasures. Follow the enchanting tracks that weave through adjacent parklands, revealing stunning vistas and natural wonders along the way.

With several parking lots along the trail, including the delightful Remic Rapids, you can conveniently park your sled (ahem, car) at the Kichi Sibi Winter Trail. The nearby LRT O-Train Confederation Line also provides easy access to the trail.

Pro Tip:

The NCC Bistro at Remic Rapids Park is another amazing spot you can rest after a grueling day of trekking through the snowy pathways. Step inside this cozy haven and treat yourself to warm drinks and delicious snacks. 

Nordic Village at Remic Rapids Park also offers rest areas and basic washroom facilities, ensuring your comfort while you snowshoe.

6. Rideau Winter Trail

Website: https://www.rideauwintertrail.ca/
Address: 1 Donald St, Ottawa, ON K1K 4E6, Canada
Contact Details: N/A
Operating Hours: 24/7
Length: 9km
Difficulty: Easy

Rideau Winter Trail is one of Ottawa’s newest additions to the winter wonderland lineup. So brace yourselves for 9km of pure snowy bliss along the picturesque Rideau River, just a hop, skip, and a snowshoe away from downtown!

Now, if you’re feeling a touch of wanderlust and your snowshoeing expedition has left you craving more, fear not. Just a hop across the Adàwe Crossing is the enchanting Strathcona Park, nestled within the vibrant Sandy Hill neighborhood. 

Here, a myriad of dining options awaits, ready to cater to your every culinary whim. Whether you’re in the mood for a post-snowshoeing feast or a quick bite to refuel, Sandy Hill has you covered.

The convenient location is a godsend because snowshoeing the whole day left us absolutely famished and just about ready to eat a whole moose!

Pro Tip:

The Bridge Public House at the Rideau Sports Centre nestled at the river end of Donald Street, offers a menu that will make your taste buds tingle with anticipation. And for those brave enough to face the elements, the patio awaits, weather permitting. 

Sip your drink, savor your meal, and let the wintry ambiance seep into your soul.

7. Ski Heritage East

Website: https://www.skiheritageeast.ca/
Address: 1 Donald St, Ottawa, ON K1K 4E6, Canada
Contact Details: [email protected]
Operating Hours: 24/7
Length: 17km
Difficulty: Easy

Ski Heritage East Trail is a place where your winter wonderland dreams can come true. This trail stretches from the charming neighborhood of Rothwell Heights to the suburb of Orleans, offering you a whopping 17km of snowy escapades near the Ottawa River.

What sets this trail apart from the rest is its flat, wide trail that’s practically begging for snowshoers, skate skiers, and fat bikers to leave their mark. It’s like a winter playground for those who prefer their adventures a little off the beaten path. 

And for those seeking a true snowy thrill, you can venture into the surrounding parkland where deep snows await. It was practically Inviting us to come and leave our footprints in the powdery snow.

Another convenient thing about this trail is that there are several refueling stations along the way. If you’re bringing along your car, the Ski Heritage East Trail also has seven parking lots along the route for you to park in.

Pro Tip:

Shami’s Bakery is a delectable haven of carbs where you can treat yourself to some mouthwatering goodness that’ll power you through the rest of your snow day.

As you conquer the trail’s final stretch in Orleans, two local gems await your arrival—the Stray Dog and Broadhead brewpubs. Craft beer and mouthwatering meals are just a snowshoe’s throw away.

8. Ottawa West Winter Trail

Website: https://owwt.wordpress.com/
Address: Carling Ave, Ottawa, ON K2K 2Y6, Canada
Contact Details: N/A
Operating Hours: 24/7
Length: N/A
Difficulty: Easy

Ottawa West Winter Trail is situated just 20mins west of downtown Ottawa, and this trail is no doubt a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. 

Picture this: you arrive at the trailhead, eager to embark on your fun snowshoeing with your family or friends. One cool thing to note is that this trail is a portion of the renowned Trans Canada Trail, joined by the Watts Creek Pathway and an array of offshoot trails. 

So it’s like a winter trail mash-up, blending the best of snowshoeing, walking, and winter biking into one glorious snowy adventure for everyone! What’s more, it’s absolutely free! 

You don’t need to break the bank to experience the joys of snowshoeing in Ottawa when you choose this trail. It warmly welcomes snowshoers, walkers, and winter bikers to share its groomed spaces between the cross-country ski tracks. 

It’s like a winter Olympics of outdoor activities, where everyone can coexist in snowy harmony.

The location also couldn’t be better. Because it’s nestled adjacent to the Wesley Clover Parks, this winter wonderland offers approximately 8km of trails to travel. 

Taking a picture here’s like stepping into a postcard-perfect winter scene!

9. Parc Oméga

Website: https://www.parcomega.ca/en/
Address: 399 Route 323 Nord, Montebello, Québec J0V 1L0
Contact Details: 819 423-5487 | [email protected]
Operating Hours: 24/7
Length: 12km
Difficulty: Easy

Snowshoeing in Parc Oméga was one experience that we can never forget because it combines the best of wildlife encounters and outdoor exploration. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking, snowshoeing and a drive-through animal park? How on earth do they go together? 

Well, Parc Oméga is certainly a place where snowshoeing and wildlife come together in surprising harmony.

Located an hour’s drive east of Ottawa, and the excitement builds as you enter the 12km self-drive safari. Buckle up and get ready to witness Canadian wildlife in all its glory. 

From majestic deer gracefully prancing, regal elk showcasing their antlers, and mighty bison roaming freely in their natural habitats. It’s like stepping into a wildlife documentary as you trek across the wilderness.

Parc Oméga also offers a separate area of snowshoeing trails, where you can strap on your trusty snowshoes and venture deeper into the winter wonderland. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for furry friends that may cross your path though!

Pro Tip:

In case you get hungry, Parc Oméga offers takeout meals, snacks, and drinks, ensuring that you stay fueled during your entire trip.

10. Arbraska Laflèche

Website: https://en.arbraska.com/
Address: 255, Rte Principale, Val-des-Monts, QC J8N 4B7
Contact Details: +1 877-886-5500 | [email protected]
Operating Hours: 24/7
Length: N/A
Difficulty: Easy

Situated a mere 30min drive north of downtown Ottawa, in the picturesque Gatineau Hills, Arbraska Laflèche is a four-season wonderland that’ll leave you breathless. 

First and foremost, Arbraska Laflèche boasts an incredible snowshoe trail network that’s just impossible to forget even long after you’ve gone there. Just imagine trudging through fresh snow, fresh air, and the sheer exhilaration of being surrounded by nature.

It isn’t just a place for snowshoeing—it’s a playground for the adventurous soul. For example, the park offers thrilling cave tours through winding passages. 

There’s also a 143m zipline where you get to soar through the air like a snow-capped superhero. And for the little adventurers in your life, the 2hr kid’s aerial course is a chance for the young ones to test their skills and conquer thrilling obstacles..

Pro Tip:

Make sure to plan your visit on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, as those are the days when the snowshoe rentals and day passes are available. You wouldn’t want to miss out on all the fun, would you?

Tips for Snowshoeing in Ottawa

Tips for Snowshoeing in Ottawa

Snowshoeing is a fun winter activity that you can enjoy with family, friends, or even solo if you prefer solitude and some time for yourself. Here are some tips to help make your snowshoeing adventure go as smoothly as possible:

  • Start with shorter distances to ease into the sport and adjust to the extra weight and physical exertion of snowshoeing.
  • Dress appropriately in layers, including moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and protective outer layers. Avoid cotton and opt for wicking fabrics.
  • Choose the right-sized snowshoes and consider renting them initially. Don’t forget poles for balance and stability.
  • Bring a friend or join a local group for safety and socializing while enjoying the sport.
  • Pack essential items like water, snacks, sunscreen, and a phone or camera. Be prepared for longer adventures with additional supplies.
  • Capture the beautiful winter scenery with your phone or camera, and share your experiences with others.
  • Select suitable trails, such as hiking trails, resort areas, wooded areas, or local parks. Start with flat terrain to get accustomed to walking with snowshoes.
  • Familiarize yourself with the basics of snowshoeing, including walking techniques and climbing uphill. Embrace falls as part of the learning process.
  • Check the weather forecast and be aware of potential avalanche risks in mountainous areas.
  • Enjoy the experience, have fun, and embrace snowshoeing as a welcoming and enjoyable winter sport.

FAQs about Snowshoeing in Ottawa