Fall Rhapsody medallion

The Pinhey Sand Dunes often reach visitor capacity in the fall. For a less crowded experience, choose a different Greenbelt trail instead.


Located in the southwest end of Ottawa, the Southern Farm and Pinhey Forest sector of the Greenbelt boasts the largest parcels of quality farmland in Canada’s Capital Region. The forest has 6.4 kilometres of nature trails open year-round. It is also an important conservation area which has a unique natural feature: Ottawa’s only inland sand dune complex.

Important

  • When out enjoying nature, please follow the principles of outdoor ethics.
  • The Pinhey Sand Dunes are home to an extremely sensitive ecosystem: please stay outside the enclosed areas.
  • Dogs and other pets on leash are permitted year-round on the Greenbelt Pathway West. In winter, dogs are not allowed on any Greenbelt trails. When on the Capital Pathway, please be considerate and share the path.

Points of interest

Nature trails for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing

The Pinhey Forest has 6.4 kilometres of trails featuring many loops, allowing for shorter or longer outings. Access to all trails is free.

  • Trail 31 provides great shade for walks, and can be accessed from parking lot P14.
  • Trail 32 features both sand dunes and forest, and can be accessed from parking lot P15.

Discover the Greenbelt’s trails for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

The sand dunes of Pinhey Forest

It’s quite an unexpected surprise to enter the forest only to be met with sand dunes! The vegetation in Pinhey Forest was established on old postglacial sand dunes. This unique ecosystem is home to a number of plant and animal species that can live only in well-drained, open areas with exposed, fine-grained sand.

Greenbelt farms abound

This sector of the Greenbelt features farms galore. From pick-your-own to farm stores and year-round activities, this is an ideal area to visit a Greenbelt farm, and take home fresh, local produce for your dining pleasure. Eating well tastes so good!

Facilities

  • Parking: Free, year-round parking is available at parking lots P14 and P15.
  • Washrooms: There is an outhouse at parking lot P15, and washrooms inside the Nepean Sportsplex Centre.
  • Picnic area: There is an unsheltered picnic area by Trail 32.
  • Universal accessibility: These trails do not meet universal accessibility standards.
  • Hours, directions, maps and planning tools

About the Pinhey Sand Dunes

Restoring the sand dunes at Pinhey Forest

Pinhey Forest is named after the man who donated the land in 1948, with the intention that it be used to demonstrate land conservation practices. Since 2011, the NCC has been working to restore this 10,000-year-old sand dune ecosystem.

Other nearby activities

Boating on the Rideau Canal and picnicking at the Black Rapids Lockstation

The world-famous Rideau Canal passes through the Greenbelt, and is a popular spot for boating. Black Rapids is a peaceful oasis which offers a beautiful park-like setting with large trees and verdant lawns — ideal for picnics.

The Black Rapids Lockstation, which is run by Parks Canada, is located by Southern Farm and Pinhey Forest. The launch is suitable only for small watercraft, because the shoreline access point is shallow and narrow.

Scenic bike rides

Cyclists can also access Black Rapids on the Rideau Canal from the Greenbelt Pathway West, which follows Black Rapids Creek.

Did you know that the NCC and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority are working on restoring and enhancing the Black Rapids Creek wetland? Learn more about this restoration project.