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Cassandra Demers

Content Strategist

Cycling will take you past some of the most scenic locations in the National Capital Region.

Ottawa–Gatineau has bike paths and routes for all ability levels. The Capital Pathway network, for one, boasts over 200 km of multi-use pathways, stretching from Gatineau Park, through downtown and into the Greenbelt. Plus, the NCC also offers over 50 km of parkways for active use many times a week. 

To help you navigate all these options, we’ve prepared a complete guide to cycling in Ottawa–Gatineau. Use this guide to plan the perfect summer outing!

But, before you hop on your bike, here are a few things to keep in mind.

All cycling routes on NCC pathways and parkways are shared, either with other active users or with motor vehicles: Share the Path or share the road

A map to plan your outing

Use our summer activities interactive map to plan your cycling trip. This map features close to 20 cycling routes in Ottawa–Gatineau. The routes have distances ranging from 6 km to 37 km, offering options for all ability levels.

Summer activities interactive map: Cycling

If you prefer, choose one of the eight suggestions below: there are four in and around Ottawa, and four in and around Gatineau.

Top cycling routes in and around Ottawa

NCC Weekend Bikedays, presented by NOKIA, on Ottawa’s parkways

Every weekend from late spring to early fall, close to 20 km of parkways in the heart of downtown Ottawa are open exclusively for active use. These car-free roads are a great way to experience the beauty of the National Capital Region in a fun, safe and environmentally friendly way.

NCC Weekend Bikedays locations and hours

Suggested route: Rockcliffe Park and the Rockeries loop

This route follows the Ottawa River along the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway from Rideau Falls and Green Island Park. The park also features a beautiful terrace at the Tavern on the Falls.

Looking for the best lookout onto the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills? Rockcliffe Park is the place. With its heritage pavilion, you can also enjoy a covered picnic lunch (the pavilion is available for wedding ceremonies by reservation, so may not be available when you visit). Another choice for a peaceful lunch is the Rockeries. As it is tucked away alongside the cycling pathway, many miss it.

  • Distance: 9.1 km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Universal accessibility: Yes
  • Note: Sections of the route use on-road bike lanes.

Rockcliffe Park and the Rockeries loop map, parking and amenities

Suggested route: Capital foodie run

This loop is a favourite of urban cyclists, passing along waterways with views of both modern and heritage architecture. There are many stops to rest or sample some of Ottawa’s tastiest food offerings, including the NCC Bistros, Sussex Courtyards and ByWard Market.

  • Distance: 20.9 km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Universal accessibility: Yes
  • Note: Sections of the route use on-road bike lanes.

Capital foodie run map, parking and amenities

Top cycling routes in and around Gatineau

Cycling on the Gatineau Park parkways

From late spring to early fall, the parkways in Gatineau Park are reserved for active use most of the time. They are shared with motor vehicles on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1 pm to sunset.

The parkways offer magnificent views of the Ottawa Valley. They lead to popular attractions like Pink Lake, the Mackenzie King Estate and the lookouts.

Gatineau Park Parkways Schedule

Suggested route: Historic Pointe Gatineau route

Start at Leamy Lake Park parking lot, and head toward the bridge that crosses the Gatineau River. Follow the shoreline northward along the Ottawa River. Loop back using La Baie Park’s pathways.

Alternatively, start your ride at any of the La Baie Park entrances, and head toward the Ottawa River.

  • Distance: 6.5 km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Universal accessibility: Yes
  • Note: A short section of the route uses municipal roads.

Historic Pointe Gatineau route map, parking and amenities

Suggested route: The Capital panorama

A downtown tour of the parks and shorelines, this route includes views of both the Gatineau River and the Ottawa River.

Start your ride at the Maison du vélo in Jacques-Cartier Park North. Take the Voyageurs Pathway* to Leamy Lake Park and beach — a great place to cool off and have a swim. Head back downtown via the Brewery Creek and De l’Île pathways.

  • Distance: 10 km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Universal accessibility: Yes

The Capital panorama route map, parking and amenities

* A section of the Voyageurs Pathway in the southern sector of Jacques-Cartier Park, between the Charron House and the parking lot north of the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge, will be closed temporarily until December 2022. A detour will be in place on Laurier Street while the work is ongoing.

Suggested route: The Voyageurs–Portageurs route

This route follows the Ottawa River from Portageurs Park to Parc des Cèdres, in Gatineau (Aylmer sector). It is mainly flat, and will lead you past marshes and picnic areas to beautiful sandy beaches and a marina. It offers magnificent views of the river.

Along the way, near the Champlain Bridge, you can see patches of stromatolites when the river water level is low enough.

  • Distance: 28.5 km
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Universal accessibility: Yes
  • Note: A short section of the route uses municipal roads.

The Voyageurs–Portageurs route map, parking and amenities

With so many options to choose from, you’ll never have to take the same route twice. That said, if you want other suggestions, there are more. The National Capital Region truly is a cyclist’s paradise.

The following trails are not managed by the NCC, but check them out if you’re looking for more cycling possibilities.

  • The Great Trail of Canada: The Capital Pathway connects with The Great Trail of Canada, which today consists of 27,000 kilometres of multi-use trails.
  • Route verte: The Capital Pathway is part of the 5,300-kilometre Route verte network — North America’s longest network of bicycle trails.

If you’re interested in creating your own route, then Bike Ottawa may have what you’re looking for. Use their interactive maps to plan your route based on amenities, levels of traffic stress and road qualities.