The expansion – possibly even explosion – of multi-use winter trails around Ottawa and the Valley over the past few years has been a boon for Ottawa outdoor enthusiasts. These volunteer- and community-led initiatives have produced dozens of kilometres of ski, fatbike, snowshoe and walking trails along the Ottawa River in the east and west, and the Gatineau River on the Quebec side.

Last Spring was the Rideau River’s turn: in a pilot project spearheaded primarily by City Councillor Mathieu Fleury and the eager locals, a 2-kilometre chunk of the Rideau River Eastern Pathway between the Hurdman bridge and Montreal Road was pressed firm by a quick groom.

Starting last March, skate skiers, snowshoers and dog-walkers were encouraged to give the fledgling a try and to provide feedback and indications of support if they wanted to see the project continued.

Skiers along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway Winter Trail pilot project.
Skiers along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway Winter Trail pilot project.

This year Councillor Fleury and the supportive community are looking to make the new trail a little more permanent and, ultimately, a quite a bit longer – possibly even all the way to Mooney’s Bay!

The gang behind this project is looking for community support in the form of volunteers, groomers, and some key gear… like a snowmobile and grooming equipment!

For more information or to help out, visit the Rideau River Winter Trail Facebook page.

I think these community-driven winter trails are amazing; really the result of locals pushing and prodding their elected officials (and unelected, in the case of the NCC, under who’s jurisdiction most of these trails fall), making their little pocked of the city more accessible and enjoyable for outdoor lovers.

Good on all of you who are pushing these projects!

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Nicki Bridgland

Thank you for this article. I am delighted to be co-leading this initiative as the CEO & Founder of the Rideau Sports Centre. Now that our first grooming has launched today (Saturday, January 18) we have a few corrections to the article. Winter 2020 Grooming will be from the Rideau Sports Centre (1 Donald Street) south to Highway 417. “Bike path” is groomed/compacted for fat bike, snow shoe, walkers. The 2.5km meandering loop on the “grassy area” is set for classic and skate skiers. Grooming will occur x1 per week for 10 weeks, typically on a Thursday or Friday (weather… Read more »