I created this page for visitors who are less or not familiar with cycling in Ottawa Gatineau. You can find popular bike tours here. I created colour maps with some extra notes such as viewpoints and greenspace. The actual routes can be downloaded from Komoot, which is an app that focusses on touring and hiking.
Over the last decades the Ottawa-Gatineau region has created a pretty decent bike touring netwerk for short distances. Enough pathways are connected directly or connected with each other via quiet residential roads to do 20, 30, 40 km loops without having to deal with much car traffic. Casual cyclists will most certainly enjoy our network.
- Can I see Ottawa by bike?
- Mostly cycling on pathways
- Restaurants and coffee shops
- Light Rail Stations
- A regional stylised map to start
- Local cycling routes in Ottawa
- Where should I cycle in Ottawa?
- Fall ride: the Gatineau Forests & Rivers loop – 44 km
- Alta Vista – Greenboro
- Overbrook – Rockcliffe
- Orléans and Ottawa River
- Waterways in the Capital Region
- West End & Bruce Pit
- Mostly Old Nepean
- Joint Ottawa/Gatineau/NCC map
- Electronic Ottawa Cycling maps
Can I see Ottawa by bike?
The network makes our region a great destination for a few days of cycling and sightseeing by bike. In fact, many interesting places can easily be reached by bike. But where to start? From cycling in other places I have found that it is often quite hard to find some good recommendations on where to bike. Therefore I started to create several maps for locals and visitors alike.
Mostly cycling on pathways
The routes are designed for maximum cycling on pathways, while taking in our nature and sights: greenspace, rivers, museums, monuments, bridges, neighbourhoods. Several routes stick to the central part of Ottawa and some are a bit further out. I only create loops so that you can start from anywhere and always get back to the same station, car park etc.
Below, you can find a sketch of each route I created with the approximate length, where the relevant light rail stations are, the sights, viewpoints, some shopping places (they usually includes food and drink places) and some major roads for your orientation. I created all the roads in Komoot, and offer the links on my website. I like Komoot for its focus on touring and nature as well as for showing the several types of bicycle infrastructure and road surfaces.
Restaurants and coffee shops
At this point, I am not recommending restaurants and coffee shops because everyone’s taste is different and because places come and go. It is also a matter of time to check the choices out as well as making sure they can be found if they are off the routes.
Light Rail Stations
You could consider taking the light rail to a station mentioned on the maps. You can take your bike on the train at any time in the front or the back of the train. You don’t pay extra for your bike, but avoid rush hours as the trains might be packed. Several LRT stations are still being built or renovated, but there is a replacement bus service. Every bus has a bike rack at the front for two bikes. Look into family day passes for weekends for transit if you plan to use it. Check the several fares (weekend, senior, children) here: OC Transpo fares
A regional stylised map to start
Let’s start with an impression, subway map style, of our Ottawa-Gatineau network. The network is not complete yet, but it does give you many options to bike away from motorised traffic. There are gaps in the network, and I have attempted to fill those in with quiet residential streets. As we have hardly any wayfinding on the ground, I decided to give the important intersections names, for reference. This, of course, is a fun map and should be used with other maps to have a real world impression of bike infrastructure.
This map gives you a good overview of the network of multi use pathways because I only drew the MUPs that are connected to each other. Use the map to design your own routes as I am doing to create the routes below. Note I am not showing on-road bike lanes, just pathways away from roads including the odd raised bike track, but that is rare.
We have more pathways then I show on the map above, but they tend to be pathways that are not connected to anything else, which doesn’t help you if you want to go for a nice loop. I choose to base the map on nodes, like in the Netherlands (but we don’t have a numbered node system on the ground). As I mentioned, there are hardly any wayfinding signs in Ottawa, so I used nearby landmarks to name the nodes much like metros and subways systems do. If you want to do some serious multi day gravel ride exploration, check out my post on the 796 km Log Driver’s Waltz gravel loop outside Ottawa.
Local cycling routes in Ottawa
Most people who visit Ottawa will bike along the Ottawa River and the Rideau canal, but our network is much bigger than that. So big in fact, that you need several days to cover them all if you are an average cyclist like I am. Below are the first route maps I recently created to give you an idea where those routes are. Bear with me while I improve my map skills. Eventually I will create a special page for those maps.
If you rarely cycle, you may want to start with a 20 km loop and see how it goes. I know from my tour guide experience that, especially with kids, you won’t go much faster than 10 km per hour if you include stops here and there for views etc. If you rent bikes, rent them for half a day and take your time enjoying the capital region.
Note: the Light Rail stations are not all operational yet (Line 2 (north south line) at the earliest perhaps early 2024). So check in advance.
Where should I cycle in Ottawa?
Click on the maps below for a bigger image. The maps might be slightly different from my Komoot maps as I make some minor variations once in a while.
Fall ride: the Gatineau Forests & Rivers loop – 44 km
For a lovely fall ride, I recommend the Gatineau Forests & Rivers loop. There is some gradual climbing involved here and there but nothing the average cyclist can not do. I really don’t like climbing myself. The entire route is basically all on pathways.
This is a great fall ride and it’s nearly all on pathways. It takes you across the awesome William Commanda bridge and along the Ottawa River and the Gatineau River, then into Gatineau Park. You come out at the other end of the Park and you’ll connect via some greenspace pathways and urban pathways to the Ottawa River. Take a very short side trip to the Deschène Rapids (easy to miss, but there are two tiny lookouts, there are often egrets hanging out on the island) and then cross the Ottawa river eventually on the Champlain bridge with raised bike lanes back into Ottawa. Cycle east along the river, stop at the Remic Rapids stacked stones and the Adirondeck chairs overlooking them and then head back to Bayview station or home. It is not a remote ride at all, but very few toilet, food or waterstation options. You can find the GPX file on Komoot. (sign in required)
Alta Vista – Greenboro
GPX file: download
Overbrook – Rockcliffe
GPX file: download
Orléans and Ottawa River
GPX file: download
Waterways in the Capital Region
GPX file: download
West End & Bruce Pit
GPX file: download
Mostly Old Nepean
GPX file: Download
Joint Ottawa/Gatineau/NCC map
The City of Ottawa, together with the NCC and the Ville de Gatineau prints a map covering the entire region. In spring, they appear along the pathways in a special stand (if they have not fallen victim to the search of efficiencies by city council), where you can also find a map behind Plexiglas to orient yourself. An electronic version can be found here. (Attention: large 24 MB file on Amazon servers, might freeze an older computer). The NCC has named their pathways and placed several signs at strategic locations. But of course, as a visitor you have no idea who owns which pathways.
Electronic Ottawa Cycling maps
Bike Ottawa, Ottawa’s local bicycle advocacy group (disclaimer: I was the president between 2009-2015), has a number of very useful maps available if you are looking for a level of stress. The interactive maps allow you to choose easy and quiet roads, or more challenging ones traffic wise etc. Choose level 2 if you want to play it safe. Go to the Bike Ottawa Maps site here. There is also a route planner, a winter cycling map and even a ‘desire line’ map.