National Capital Greenbelt
National Capital Greenbelt
The NCC maintains 20,000 hectares of greenspace that stretches west, south and east of Ottawa, known as the National Capital Greenbelt. The Greenbelt represents Canada’s rural landscape, and is a mix of farms, forests, wetlands, and research areas, as well as a place where nature is able to flourish and evolve with surrounding urban lands.
Visitors to the National Capital Greenbelt get to enjoy a natural environment and participate in a variety of recreational activities, including extensive hiking trails, cycling, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, camping, tobogganing and more.
The National Capital Greenbelt has over 100 km of trails that feed into parts of the Trans Canada Trail, Rideau Trail and Capital Pathway network. Whether you have half an hour for a short hike or plan on spending the day, the Greenbelt has something for everyone. Visit the Hiking in the Greenbelt group for more details.
Mountain Biking in the Greenbelt
While not offially sanctioned, the Greenbelt offers lots lots of trails and a variety of terrain, from easy stuff on Jack Pine trail to moderately technical on Lime Kiln Trail. Visit the Greenbelt Mountain Biking Trails group for more information.
Cross-Country Skiing in the National Capital Greenbelt
Most trails are used for cross country skiing in the winter, but there are a handful of routes recommended by the NCC for walking and snowshoeing. You can view those snowshoeing routes on the NCC website.
The hills around the National Capital Greenbelt are some of the best in the region and are sure to thrill the whole family!
Tobogganing is available at:
- Bruce Pit - Stony Swamp Conservation Area
Located off Cedarview Road, north of Hunt Club Road, across from Bell High School. Please note that this location is not lit (access from parking lot P12).
- Conroy Pit -Pine Grove Forest
Located a short drive in from Conroy Road, south of Hunt Club Road (access from parking lot P17). The hill is lit from 4 pm to 11 pm. Please drive with caution along the access road to the hill, the speed limit is 20 km/hr.
- Green's Creek - Green's Creek Conservation Area Located off St. Joseph Boulevard. Year-round parking (P26). Maintained by the City of Ottawa.
The Ottawa Municipal Campground is a hidden gem within city limits of our Nation's Capital. Nestled among mature trees in Ottawa's Greenbelt offering the elements of nature with the convenience of the city, the campground is just 15 minutes from the Parliament Buildings.
Campground amenities include everything you'll need - from laundry and electricity to internet, ice and showers.
Visit the Ottawa Municipal Campground for more info, rates start at $26/night.
Shirleys Bay contains large wetland areas and is perhaps one of the best bird-watching spots in the Capital, as it is on an important bird migration route along the Ottawa River. Shirleys Bay has trails, a launch for small boats and an interpretive exhibit located at the picnic area. The western terminus of the new Greenbelt Pathway is here. The Ottawa Municipal Campground is nearby.
Pinhey Forest is a small, but diverse forest area. The oldest plantations in the Greenbelt were planted in the 1950s as a conservation project by the Ottawa Board of Trade, on land donated by the Pinhey family. There are ski, hiking and exercise trails in the area.
Stony Swamp is the largest forested area of the National Capital Greenbelt. It offers the greatest diversity of trails and activities, including interpretive exhibits on geology and natural history; wetland boardwalks; a winter bird-feeding station; historic sites such as the Lime Kiln; and portions of the Rideau and Trans Canada trails.
There's some great mountain biking trails at Stony Swamp, as well as some hiking and snowshoeing trails.
Pine Grove is a mixture of plantations and natural forests. This area has extensive hiking and ski trails, one of which features an interpretive exhibit on forest management and tree identification.
Mer Bleue is a 3,700-hectare peat bog protected as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The highlight of Mer Bleue is a kilometre-long boardwalk built onto the bog’s surface. Ecologically, Mer Bleue is a unique example of a northern ecosystem — more typical of the Arctic than of the Ottawa Valley, and it may well be the single-most studied bog in the world. Interpretive signs tell the story of this unique sub-artic landscape. The area features a picnic shelter, winter bird-feeding station, and variety of ski and hiking trails. At nearby Carlsbad Springs, a provincial heritage site, you will find a picnic area, short walking trail and the remains of a health spa.
Green’s Creek is an area of unusual geology with steep-sided ravines and flat tablelands. There are several short ski and hiking trails, a toboggan slide, and the eastern terminus of the Greenbelt Pathway.
How to Get to the National Capital Greenbelt
There are 26 parking lots in the National Capital Greenbelt, so it really depends on where you want to go and what you're going to do.
Here are directions to the most popular starting spots:
Shirleys Bay Area
Parking P1 :
Take Hwy 417 West and take Moodie Drive northbound (turn right) for approximately 1.2 km to Carling Avenue. Turn left on Carling and proceed approximately 2.3 km to Rifle Road; turn right onto Rifle Road. The parking area, boat launch and picnic area are at the end of Rifle Road (approximately 2 km).
Stony Swamp Conservation Area
Parking P4 and P5:
Take Hwy 417 West to Moodie Drive southbound (turn left).
Parking P14 and P15:
Take Hwy 417 West to Woodroffe Avenue and go south on Woodroffe for 4 km (past the Hunt Club Road intersection) to the Nepean Sportsplex. Turn left into the Sportplex grounds; P14 is located in the south-east corner of the Nepean Sportsplex parking lot. To access P15, continue on Woodroffe Avenue for another 1 km to Slack Road; turn left onto Slack Road. The parking is 1 km on the right.
Mer Bleue Conservation Area
Take Highway 417 East. Exit at Innes Road and go east (turn left) for 3 km. Turn right on Anderson Road for 3.5 km. P20 is on the right.
Green's Creek Conservation Area
Parking P25 and P26:
Take Highway 417 East to Hwy 174 East. Take the Montreal Road exit and go east (turn right) 0.5 km on St. Joseph Boulevard. Take the first right onto Bearbrook Road. P26 is immediately on the right. P25 (Hornets Nest) is another 1.2 km south on Bearbrook Road on the right.
National Capital Greenbelt Trail Map
Other Greenbelt Resources: