News Release

Published on December 17, 2020

Keep active this winter with an expanded trail network, interactive map and personal challenge

To help everyone keep active during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCC is providing an unprecedented winter offering to create more public space for outdoor physical and mental well-being. With over 450 km of trails for skiing, snowshoeing, snow biking, walking or hiking, hills for tobogganing and fire pits to warm up by, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in our “Winter Capital.”

We’re also making it easier for residents to discover the expanded winter trail network, with our new interactive map, while providing additional incentives to experience our assets by launching two #WinterCapital challenges!

Please note that all users are asked to practise physical distancing, and follow NCC-specific rules, as well as local public health directives to ensure that everyone can enjoy our assets safely.

Expanded Winter Trail Network

In partnership with the Urban Winter Trails Alliance, the NCC is adding close to 50 percent more accessible winter trail space (in terms of length and width) to the Ottawa area, as part of a pilot project. These include:

  • SJAM Winter Trail, 18 km
  • Orleans Ski Club, 19 km + 1 km (City of Ottawa land)
  • Ottawa West Winter Trail, 8 km
  • Rideau Winter Trail, 9 km
  • Britannia Winter Trail Association, 4 km + 4 km (City of Ottawa land)
  • Ski Heritage East, 10 km + 7 km (City of Ottawa land)

Beyond Gatineau Park in the Outaouais region, residents can also enjoy free access to a trail network from Leamy Lake to Gatineau Park, through a partnership with the Ville de Gatineau and the Centre de plein air du Lac-Leamy.

Over the course of this winter, users of NCC assets will be surveyed, and counters will be used at various entry points to gather feedback and data to inform future decision making.

#WinterCapital Interactive Map

Our Winter Capital interactive map allows you to plan your perfect winter outing. Start by selecting an activity, then choose your experience, the duration and the level of difficulty. The sharable map will then suggest a variety of routes for you to enjoy — within the downtown core, in the Greenbelt or in Gatineau Park!

#WinterCapital Challenges

As an additional incentive to encourage the active use of NCC assets over the winter months, we are pleased to announce a new partnership with Sportstats and Virtual Run Canada which allows you to participate in two specific challenges:

  • #WinterCapital Trail Network Challenge, January 1 to March 15, 2021;
  • #WinterCapital Rideau Canal Skateway Challenge, January 10 to March 15, 2021 (weather and conditions permitting).

    By registering for free, participants will be encouraged to track and share their progress with their friends. Those who wish to receive a recognition package and medal for their accomplishment may do so by paying a nominal fee. Participants have until March 31, 2021 to submit their results.

    Wait! There’s more for you to enjoy in our #WinterCapital!

    Our favourite activities are back through the NCC’s collaboration with municipal and community partners.

    Rideau Canal Skateway — World’s largest skating rink!

    The Rideau Canal Skateway is a must for those who want to experience winter in Canada’s Capital. For this 51st season, our Skateway team has deployed a secret weapon to help freeze a section of the ice, and is working to ensure that COVID-19 public health directives are respected.

    Changing facilities will be open, with maximum numbers of users allowed at any given time, and 50 additional benches will be placed along the canal to make changing into skates easier.

    Gatineau Park — One of the largest cross-country ski networks in North America!

    Escape to Gatineau Park to discover all that winter has to offer! When it’s time for a break from your favourite activity, such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or snow biking, stop by one of our new fire pits to warm up.

    If you are counting on accessing the indoor warmth of day shelters, please note that once the winter season officially launches in Gatineau Park, a new usage system will be in place:

    • Daytimes, from 7 am to 5 pm, the shelters will be available for one household at a time, on a first-come, first-served basis for short periods to warm up or have a snack.
    • Evenings, from 5 pm to 11 pm, an online reservation system will be available to allow a single household to book a shelter for a 75-minute period, starting two days prior to the reservation time.

    Details about the reservation system can be found here:

    As there have been a record number of season pass sales this year, we strongly recommend visiting Gatineau Park at off-peak times, such as during the week and toward the end of the day. The purchase of a pass does not guarantee access to a specific parking lot, especially during the busiest times. Since we expect the Chelsea sector to be particularly busy on weekends, we encourage users to visit other parts of the Park, or explore other trails during peak periods.

    When planning your outing, visit our website and social media channels for the latest on the availability of parking in Gatineau Park, and check our interactive map to ensure that you choose the right trail for your activity.

    Greenbelt — Largest publicly owned greenbelt in the world!

    With over 150 kilometers of trails and some of the best tobogganing hills in the Ottawa region, Canada’s Capital Greenbelt makes for a great all-ages family outing. With cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, snow biking and tobogganing, our Greenbelt becomes a winter wonderland for all to enjoy.

    Note that parking lot P7 on the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway will be plowed to allow a convenient western access point to the Ski Heritage East multi-use winter trail.

    Nature lovers can also observe many species of wildlife, and the Greenbelt’s proximity to residential areas makes it a choice destination for safe and active outings this winter.

    Bistro at Remic Rapids — Warm up and fuel up!

    We are pleased to announce that the NCC Bistro at Remic Rapids will be open this winter. Scheduled to open in early January, this winter node will provide users of the SJAM Winter Trail a place to rest and enjoy a variety of food and beverage options, the opportunity to warm up by heaters and a firepit, as well as access to temporary washrooms located next to the Nordic Village Rest Area.

    Media Information:

    Dominique Huras 
    NCC Media Relations
    613-286-0886 (cellular)

    Backgrounder: What’s New in Your #WinterCapital

    Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCC has been working to provide increased public access to its assets to help contribute to physical and mental well-being. 

    While respecting public health directives — and by collaborating with our municipal and community partners — the NCC is proud to provide an unprecedented winter offering across the National Capital Region. 

    Here is an overview of what’s new this year in your #WinterCapital!

    Expanded Winter Trail Network With increased funding to our partners, we are adding 24 km of new community-managed winter trails in Ottawa on NCC and City of Ottawa lands.   

    2020–2021 Winter Expansion (pilot project)

    Total (in length)

    SJAM Winter Trail

    +16 km in width (NCC)
    +2 km in length (NCC)

    18 km (NCC)

    Ski Heritage East Winter Trail

    +7 km (NCC)

    10 km (NCC)
    7 km (City of Ottawa)

    Britannia Winter Trail

    +1 km (NCC)
    +1 km (City of Ottawa)

    4 km (NCC)
    4 km (City of Ottawa)

    Rideau Winter Trail

    +6 km (NCC)

    9 km (NCC)

    Ottawa West Winter Trail

    +6 km (NCC) 

    8 km (NCC)

    Orleans Ski Club

    +1 km (City of Ottawa)

    19 km (NCC)
    1 km (City of Ottawa)

    Total (all lands)

    +24 km

    80 km

    To enable even more room for physical distancing in Gatineau Park, we have also created four new winter trails (58, 72B, 79 and 80), and have extended the Sugarbush Trail.

    New Interactive Map

    To help everyone discover these new winter trails, as well as our existing network of 450 km of trails, we are launching a new interactive map to personalize and share your route with friends and family.

    New Winter Parking Lots

    Users of Ski Heritage East multi-use ski trail will be pleased to note the addition of one parking lot (P7) on the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway, creating a convenient western access point.

    To help ensure everyone’s enjoyment of Gatineau Park, we have increased visitor capacity by creating two new parking lots:

    • P20 (Breton Beach)
    • Old Chelsea parking lot (at Old Chelsea and Kingsmere roads)

    New Rest and Warming Areas

    To facilitate physical distancing and ensure additional room to rest and warm up, this year, we are doing the following:

    • adding 50 new benches along the Rideau Canal Skateway
    • bringing back the Concord Rest Area on the Rideau Canal Skateway
    • adding two new fire pits, with increased access to a third, in Gatineau Park (for a total of five)
    • launching a new evening reservation system for the night shelters in Gatineau Park

    New Challenges

    And, finally, to encourage everyone to get outdoors and experience all that your #WinterCapital has to offer, we are launching two new challenges. Sign up for free, track your kilometres, and earn your bragging rights for distances travelled!