National Capital Greenbelt

Visit the Greenbelt in Ottawa, and discover the most ecologically diverse area in Eastern Ontario.

This is nature at its most accessible — a band of green encircling Ottawa from west to east. Head out and explore the Greenbelt for yourself!

History

The Greenbelt is 20,000 hectares of green space, including farms, forests and wetlands. It was created in the 1950s to protect the rural land bordering the Capital from urban sprawl. It has since become the largest publicly owned greenbelt in the world. Most of the Greenbelt (14,950 hectares) is owned by the NCC.

Places to Visit

Green’s Creek

Green’s Creek

Green’s Creek, to the east of Ottawa, is an area of unusual geology with steep-sided ravines and plateaus. There are several short ski and hiking trails, as well as a toboggan slide. Green’s Creek also marks the eastern end of the...

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Mer Bleue

Mer Bleue

The Mer Bleue Bog in Ottawa is one of the most outstanding natural features of the Greenbelt. The 3,500-hectare conservation area has a northern ecosystem that is more typical of the Arctic than of the Ottawa Valley.

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Pine Grove

Pine Grove

Pine Grove is the largest forest in the Greenbelt and is a mixture of tree plantations and natural forests.

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Southern Farm and Pinhey Forest

Southern Farm and Pinhey Forest

This conservation area in the Greenbelt contains a unique natural feature: Ottawa’s only inland sand dune complex. The Pinhey sand dune complex extends from Woodroffe Avenue just south of the Nepean Sportsplex to the Grenfell Crescent...

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Stony Swamp

Stony Swamp

Stony Swamp, southwest of Ottawa, features a network of beaver ponds, wetlands and forests. This area offers over 40 kilometres of trails — more than in any other section of the Greenbelt. In addition, you will find wetland boardwalks...

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Shirleys Bay

Shirleys Bay

Shirleys Bay, to the west of Ottawa, is a provincially significant wetland and the largest marshland in the Greenbelt. It’s also one of the best spots in Canada’s Capital Region for birdwatching. The bay is an old channel of the Ottawa...

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Discover the Greenbelt

Discover the Greenbelt

The Greenbelt protects natural areas like forests, wetlands, streams and sand dunes that sustain biodiversity. The natural areas in the Greenbelt support human and ecological health in Canada’s Capital Region.

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Nature

The Greenbelt protects natural areas like forests, wetlands, streams and sand dunes that sustain biodiversity. The natural areas in the Greenbelt support human and ecological health in Canada’s Capital Region.

Agriculture in the Greenbelt

Agriculture

The NCC supports sustainable agriculture in the Greenbelt. Greenbelt farms produce milk, meat, grains, fruits and vegetables that contribute to the food supply and economy of the Capital Region.

Recreation

The Greenbelt attracts 3.5 million visits each year and offers all kinds of outdoor, family-friendly activities:

The Greenbelt features over 150 kilometres of recreational trails, which link to the Capital Pathway network, the Rideau Trail (Ottawa to Kingston) and the Trans Canada Trail. Once completed, the Greenbelt Pathway will be a continuous 56-kilometre recreational corridor extending from one side of the Greenbelt to the other.

Currently the Greenbelt has three recreational paths that are excellent for cycling, walking and running.

  • Watts Creek Pathway
  • Greenbelt Pathway West
  • Greenbelt Pathway East

Things to do

Hiking and walking

Hiking and walking

Whether you are new to the activity or already an avid hiker, Gatineau Park is an excellent spot for a nature hike. With 165 kilometres of hiking trails, the Park has something for everyone.

Walk in the nature
Picnicking

Picnicking

Take a break from your outdoor adventures at one of Gatineau Park’s 15 picnic areas.

Take a break
Bird watching

Bird watching

Shirleys Bay is on an important bird migration route along the Ottawa River. More than 270 bird species have been seen in the Shirleys Bay area over the years.

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Cycling in the Capital

Cycling in the Capital

One of the best ways to explore Ottawa–Gatineau is by bike.

Visit the Capital
Dog walking

Dog walking

Enjoy many scenic trails with your dog.

Walk your dog
Boating

Boating

In the Greenbelt, you can go boating in the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal.

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Land access permit

Are you interested in doing research in the Greenbelt? You may need an NCC land access permit.

Request a permit
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Mud Lake

A living classroom

The Greenbelt is a place of discovery and environmental education. Each year, more and more students from local schools are visiting the Greenbelt to learn about the wonders of the natural environment.

Students Field Testing at Shirly's Bay

A scientific laboratory

Professional scientists and science enthusiasts engage in activities, including biological inventories, long-term monitoring and scientific experiments.

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