Cycling the New Nepean Trail in Ottawa

wayfinding sign Ottawa
wayfinding signs are new for Ottawa but very much needed
Reading Time: 8 minutes

I have written about the Nepean Trail before when it was being built. It is ready now and it is time to take a ride. The Nepean Trail is a combination of different choices of road types. The most important upgrades in the Nepean Trail are the underpass on Merivale, the crossride at Merivale and the new stretch of MUP behind Movati.

Printing money not an option for Nepean Trail

Financing the whole thing has been creative. Unlike road widening for which money appears to be printed at City Hall, the Nepean Trail has been cobbled together from different sources. For example, the path that runs along Dow’s Lake Honda (which used to be near Dow’s Lake, and should really be called Colonnade Honda now) was paid from fees. Movati donated land to the Nepean Trail and prepared the terrace in the back of their property so that the city could build a path on it. The Colonnade and Merivale crossride was paid for from Ottawa’s Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.

Other parts of the Nepean Trail consist of existing multi use pathways and residential roads. The trail currently stops having a name after Tanglewood Park, but nothing stops you from continuing along the hydro corridor paths all the way to Bruce Pit, including using some quieter roads for now and beyond to Stittsville and eventually to Vancouver.

Let’s have a look.

Farlane blv with NEpean Trail
Starting at Baseline, the trail is disguised as Farlane Blvd, next to Villa Marconi. You are welcomed by a sharrow and a single file sign
wayfinding sign
There is the first wayfinding sign, indicating the library and Tanglewood Park


The signage implemented along the Nepean Trail is part of a new wayfinding system. It was first introduced along the Trans-Orléans pathway and will be rolled-out as part of select new pedestrian and cycling projects, moving forward, according to the city’s media relations department (I am now apparently considered ‘media‘).

This being suburbia, you often see rabbits along the Nepean Trail
Many new signs along the way. The pedestrian only’ sign’ in the middle has now been removed
Nepean Trail parking lot at Costco call centre
This yield sign will hopefully also be replaced with at least a smaller one. This is the shortcut to the library via the Costco call centre parking at Emerald Plaza, but as the path is not winter maintained, I think the snowplow operator will dump the usual 12 feet of snow right in front of it.

Signs on the Nepean Trail

I like the wayfinding signs and I hope it will encourage people to understand that destinations are actually not far. However, there are way too many traffic signs put up. They are 1) too big and 2) too high. I addressed this with the city engineer and a planner who invited me for a ride. I suggested that the signs don’t need that big: it is visual pollution. Low and behold, small signs exist as you can see for example along NCC pathways and at the west side of the Flora food bridge. It is just that someone didn’t tick off the right boxes. They promised to look into it.

  behind movati
More signs that I think no one can and will read, but the path is welcomed
behind movati
There was initially a fence with horizontal bars, and wider spaced, but that would be dangerous for a child as they could slip through it or climb on it. So that had to be replaced. Note the narrow strip of crushed stone a the bottom of the fence, I assume for drainage.
Nepean Trail Meadowlands intersection
The intersection at Meadowlands and Grant Carman: Movati is on the right hand side. Kitty corner from here is the Independent; an awkward intersection to navigate. There is now a ‘walk your bike’ sign added

Meadowlands Intersection

Everyone agrees that this intersection is far from ideal and so the city sat down and looked into a number of solutions, one being a protected intersection on two corners, but for a bit more money the entire intersection can be renewed, so look for that in a few years. I have suggested a roundabout, but who listens? According to Carina Duclos, Manager, Municipal Design and Construction:

Several intersection designs were developed at the functional level that considered removal of the slip-around lane. However, due to construction challenges relating to existing gradients and the intersection’s unique layout, the preferred functional plan could not fit into the project budget and were left to be addressed as part of a future project and funding.

Carman section
The Grant Carman on-road bike lane has been there for about a year already. The bike lane gets really narrow sometimes
Nepean Trail
After Viewmount, the road becomes very quiet. I don’t think the sharrow is necessary, there is virtually no traffic here
Nepean Trail
A existing MUP cutting through to Colonnade. At the far end in this photo, the path dips into a depression and is often filled with ice early in the season. So be careful there. On the left is the Nepean Creek, which was happily filled with snow and salt by contractors of the homes on the left until I complained about it for two seasons
Nepean Trail sign
In the depression in the path you can turn left along Nepean Creek and eventually cross the creek two more times. Trimming crews already hit the sign recently
Nepean Trail  Dow Honda and pathway
Here is the path along Colonnade at Dow Honda. The path was put in when Dow Honda was built in 2015
Nepean Trail  cross ride
A very welcome new crossride across Merivale at Colonnade. There is no more right through red at this intersection where the white van is waiting, but I do see the odd car ignoring it. The wait is fairly long for us cyclists, but doable
Nepean Trail  fence
We all agreed this is ugly. Recently I nearly crashed into a pedestrian a bit further back. I didn’t see him because of the car lights shining into my eyes

Beachburg subdivision underpass

Nepean Trail underpass
The new section and important element of the trail underneath the railway tracks (the “Beachburg subdivision” track). I mentioned to the project manager that I find the environment quit harsh and the slope towards the road could have had some greenery. He agreed, but too late now.
Nepean Trail signs
A convoluted solution, but the real issue is this yield sign on Woodfield. The planner agreed that this is a mistake and it shouldn’t be there. It is gone now
Nepean Trail signs
I went back a few days later and noticed that there were now flexiposts leading up to the place where the path merges into the bike lane on the road
Nepean Trail  tanglewood sign
And “Voila”, as Brian Smith would say, there is Tanglewood Park. The lane on the road is not a bike lane but a parking lane. There are few cars parked though and often none, so you could use it as a bike lane
Nepean Trail  sign
One more thing: this sign is wrong. The arrows should point right/east. City staff have changed it after I commented on this
Nepean Trail pasture
Continuing through Tanglewood Park, you will eventually end up at Hunt Club and Cleopatra Dr
 Nepean Trail intersection
Back at Woodfield (I have turned around by now) you could cross to Costco eastbound for that 2 year old Balderson cheese or slip into the MUP on your left (entrance not in the picture) or go to the intersection and cross at the lights on Merivale going north (left) again. The path on the right could have the curb cut right in front of the cyclist, not where it is now
Nepean Trail sign walk you bike sign
No path or intersection in Ottawa is complete without a ‘walk your bike sign’. Mostly put up for liability reasons, it is probably the most hated sign type as it so disrespects cycling as a mode of transportation
Costco bike parking
Cyclists are not welcomed at Costco. It is often a bit of a struggle to park your bike with shopping cards blocking the racks. Cars however…
Nepean Trail sign
This sign should be a few meters before an intersection so that you can make a decision where to position yourself on the road. This one is too far away. I mentioned this to city staff
Nepean Trail lane
Grant Carman northbound: this dotted line is a lay by for buses, but I have never actually seen one ‘laying by’.

Usage of the Nepean Trail

I am very happy with the trail and I am using it fairly regularly, to go to get cheese, have blood work done, to go the library or to attend a meeting, like recently one on Greenbank. I really enjoy being partially away from heavy and fast traffic and bypassing some stop signs and traffic lights if I take this route.

I haven’t seen too many cyclists yet, but I have seen more pedestrians than I had expected. I noticed that the path is not overly well known yet too: one of my neighbours knew about it and wanted to use it but didn’t know where to access it (behind her house basically). So I think it needs a bit more promotion as it really is a good connection. Now lets all root for a better intersection at Meadowlands.

I noticed on Strava Heatmaps in 2021 that the underpass on Merivale is the preferred route, rather than the road. You probably think: “duh”, but there are still people who prefer to share Merivale with delivery and moving trucks in crappy asphalt.

Read a previous post on the construction of the Nepean Trail here.

A reader asked me to put together a route from Villa Marconi to Bruce Pit and suggested I add it to this article. The western half has several options, but this is the one with the most pathways included and avoids teh pathway that runs along West Hunt Club. A shorter route runs through Centrepointe Park, through Algonquin College and via Withrow Ave in Cityview.


  1. Do you have an exact trail map of the Nepean Trail from Bruce Pit to Villa Marconi? I can’t seem to find where exactly you are supposed to go end-to-end.

  2. Not a huge difference but I really like it and the price is right, (I’m sure it’s the 3yr Balderson in Kirkland wrapping) and I like the 500g brick form factor.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Down the Merivale Road ~ W.W. Campbell | Hans on the Bike
  2. People for Bikes Collects Data for Promising City Rating Score | Hans on the Bike

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.