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Updated on June 11, 2020

At a time when we’re asked to practise social distancing, staying active and enjoying nature can help decrease tensions and improve your mood. Experts say you can still go for a walk outside, just as long as you avoid crowds and maintain a safe distance from those around you.

Canada’s Capital Greenbelt features over 150 kilometres of recreational trails, and is the perfect spot for a hike in nature. 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 the National Capital Region. The natural wetland features along the shore, as well as the inland 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.

Stony Swamp Trails

Stony Swamp, in southwestern Ottawa, features a network of beaver ponds, wetlands and forests. The area offers over 40 kilometres of trails — more than in any other section 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 in three loops: a short one (0.7 km), a medium one (1.7 km) and a long one (2.3 km).

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).

Mer Bleue Trails

The Mer Bleue Bog in Ottawa is one of the most outstanding natural features of the Greenbelt. It is the largest bog and natural area in Canada’s Capital Region and the second-largest bog in southern Ontario. This area is located approximately 10 kilometres southeast of Parliament Hill in the National Capital Greenbelt.

With more than 20 kilometres of trails, Mer Bleue offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Mer Bleue Bog Trail

The very popular Mer Bleue Bog Trail is a 1.2-kilometre trail with a one-kilometre-long boardwalk and a series of interpretive panels. It provides an opportunity to explore this unique wetland, which has a northern ecosystem more typical of the Arctic than of the Ottawa Valley.

  • To help protect the fragile ecosystem of Mer Bleue Bog, dogs are not allowed on the Mer Bleue Bog Trail.
  • Get details and directions.

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.

Trail 51

Situated on the other side of Anderson Road, Trail 51 is often overlooked in the Mer Bleue area. At the trailhead (parking lot P20), there are benches where you can have a quick lunch before heading out on the trail. The trail lengths vary from a few kilometres for the shortest loop to over seven kilometres for the more adventurous.

Pine Grove Trails

Pine Grove is a large forested area located in the south end of Ottawa. It offers 18.4 kilometres of hiking and cross-country ski trails.

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

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.

IMPORTANT: Follow Ottawa Public Health's guidelines for physical distancing.