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At a time when we’re asked to practise social distancing, staying active and enjoying nature can help decrease tensions and improve our mood.

Canada’s Capital Greenbelt features over 150 kilometres of natural trails and is the perfect spot for a hike or a stroll. Each trail offers a unique perspective of the natural and historical heritage of Canada’s Capital.

Here are seven hiking trails where you can go to get a healthy dose of nature.

Shirleys Bay Trails

Shirleys Bay is located at the western edge of Canada’s Capital Region. The natural shoreline and wetlands provide many benefits, including improved water quality and thriving wildlife habitats.

Within the conservation area, there are seven kilometres of hiking trails and two recreational paths: the Watts Creek Pathway and the Greenbelt Pathway West.

Shoreline Trail

Two people walking on the Shoreline Trail.

The Shoreline Trail is a good destination for observing shorebirds, as it is located on an important bird migration route. It also offers spectacular views of the Ottawa River.

Although it is short (a little over a half-kilometre round-trip), it connects with the Greenbelt Pathway West, which allows for a longer walk.

Greenbelt Pathway West

One of four multi-use pathways in the Greenbelt, the Greenbelt Pathway West stretches over 21 kilometres and connects the Shirley Bay sector to the Stony Swamp area.

In addition to being universally accessible, leashed dogs are permitted year-round on this pathway.

Stony Swamp Trails

Stony Swamp, in southwestern Ottawa, features a network of beaver ponds, wetlands and forests. Stony Swamp is the most ecologically diverse protected area in the Ottawa Valley. The area offers over 40 kilometres of trails — more than in any other sector of the Greenbelt.

Jack Pine Trail

The Jack Pine Trail is a central point for a large network of trails which allows for a variety of hikes in the Stony Swamp sector. Its wide diversity of habitats supports many different bird species and over 560 native plant species.

The trail is divided into three loops: a short one (0.7 km), a medium one (1.7 km) and a long one (2.3 km).

On your next outing, be sure to check the American hornbeam, one of our 170 remarkable trees. Fun fact: its surprisingly strong stalks were once used by log drivers to attach wood piles to the rafts. Find this tree along the Jack Pine Trail with the help of our interactive map.

For conservation reasons, dogs are not permitted on the Jack Pine Trail.

Get details and directions.

Old Quarry Trail

The Old Quarry Trail is an interpretive trail with panels that depict the geological history of the Capital Region. Many photographers visit this area to take shots of the white-tailed deer that are often seen along the trail.

It is divided in two loops: a medium loop (1.9 km) and a long loop (2.7 km).

To help protect species that live in the surrounding area, dogs are not permitted on this trail.

Get details and directions.

Sarsaparilla Trail

Taking a relaxing walk along the 1-kilometre Sarsaparilla Trail (no. 22) is a wonderful way to decompress and connect with nature. The trail leads to a dock that overlooks a beaver pond where you can catch a glimpse of the beavers at work if you are lucky!

Get directions.

Mer Bleue Trails

The Mer Bleue Bog in Ottawa is one of the most outstanding natural features of the Greenbelt. Consequently, it is also one of the most visited and crowded areas. It is the largest bog in Canada’s Capital Region and the second-largest in southern Ontario. You can find this conservation area approximately 10 kilometres southeast of Parliament Hill in Canada’s Capital Greenbelt.

With more than 20 kilometres of trails, Mer Bleue offers plenty of hiking opportunities and is often the subject of photographs due to its striking beauty and diverse wildlife.

Dewberry Trail

The Dewberry Trail is an easy one-kilometre loop. It is perfect for young hikers and beginner hikers.

If you’d like to go for a longer hike, extend your outing by taking one of the many other trails that link up with this trail.

To help protect the fragile ecosystem of Mer Bleue Bog, dogs are not allowed on the Dewberry Trail.

Get details and directions.

Pine Grove Trails

Pine Grove is a large, forested area located in the south end of Ottawa. It offers 18.4 kilometres of hiking.

For dog lovers, this area is home to Conroy Pit (parking lot P17), a popular off-leash dog area.

Trails 43 and 44

Trails 43 and 44 form a 4.4-kilometre loop that features interpretive panels about forest management and how to identify various tree species. The red pine plantation from the 1950s attracts red-breasted nuthatches, pine warblers and pine siskins.