It’s time to lace up those hiking boots, adjust your backpack and apply that insect repellent. Hiking season is here!
The Greenbelt is a great place to hike, featuring landmark trails like the Jack Pine Trail and Mer Bleue Boardwalk. This summer, discover these five hidden hiking trails in the Greenbelt. Each trail brings a unique perspective to the natural and historical heritage of Canada’s Capital.
Old Quarry Trail
This trail shows the geological history of the Capital Region. Many photographers flock to this area to take photos of the white-tailed deer that are frequently found along the trail. This a great trail for families.
Shirley’s Bay (P1)
This beautiful trailhead on the shores of the Ottawa River offers fantastic sunsets. Locally nesting ospreys soar overhead, often with a caught fish from this angling hotspot. The sheltered picnic tables are wonderful when you want to take a break from the heat.
From the trailhead, the trail leads to Trail 10, which is a four- to five-kilometre loop, featuring shallow limestone meadows and a silver maple forest closer to the river. There are a few spectacular views of the Ottawa River along the trail.
Hidden away behind the Nepean Sportsplex, there is a gateway to the forest in Merivale Gardens. The trail meanders through a mixed forest with white pine, maples and oaks interspersed throughout the canopy. The trail lengths vary from about two kilometres for the shortest loop to about five kilometres for the more adventurous. If you have time, visiting the Pinhey Sand Dunes is a highlight.
The nearby Nepean Sportsplex offers easy access to most facilities, including water fountains and washroom facilities, which you may want to take advantage of before your hike.
Pine Grove (P19)
This trail is one of my favourites. Nestled between agricultural fields, the trail goes through many different habitats, including hemlock and old pine plantations. Exploring the cedar groves that line the trail is a treat. This trail attracts trail runners looking for a more natural place to run, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The shortest trail loop is 2.2 km long, but the hike can be extended to 8 km. The trail can be quite narrow in places, but often opens up as you move through the different habitats.
Mer Bleue (P20)
Situated on the other side of Anderson Road, this trail is often overlooked in the Mer Bleue area. At the trailhead, there are bird feeders and picnic benches for a quick lunch before heading out on the trail. The trail is often under canopy cover, so the colouration is frequently dappled with light. Very picturesque!