Winter brings out the best in our country.

As much as we love spring camping, summer hiking and autumn exploring, there's something magical about snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in Canada. Piles of snow insulate and silence the wilderness, waterfalls drip with frozen icicles, animal tracks appear on snow-covered trails and—perhaps best of all—warm-weather crowds are far, far away.

These 10 snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails will take you through incredibly unique landscapes and lead to mesmerizing views of the frozen parkland that surrounds Ottawa.

National Capital Commission (NCC)National Capital Commission (NCC)

While some of these trails allow both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, explorers who are snowshoeing should be careful to stay off the ski tracks. Trail and parking fees may apply.

I asked members of our Live the Adventure Club to recommend their favourite trails in the area, some of which I’ve included in this article.

Thanks to Joanne Lyver Maheral, Cindy DeCoste Boudah, Chris Bolestridge, Camille Taylor, Chad Lambert and Brandon Szalony for sharing your insights and photographs!


1. Lauriault Trail and the Waterfall Trail

Gatineau Park


Length: 3 km
Duration: 1 hour
Elevation gain: 77 metres
Difficulty: Easy

The Waterfall Trail leads to Bridal Veil Falls, which freezes over in the winter. At the end of Lauriault Trail, you’ll find a picnic area next to Mulvihill Lake. Don’t miss the nearby ruins of MacKenzie King Estate, where past Prime Minister King used to live.

How do I get to the trailhead? This trail starts at Lauriault parking lot, Champlaign parkway.
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 Distance from Ottawa: 29 km


2. Wolf Trail (62)

Gatineau Park


Length: 8.3 km (loop)
Duration: 2.5 - 3 hours
Elevation gain: 218 metres
Difficulty: Moderate

Pull on your snowshoes or crampons to climb Wolf Trail. Three lookouts offer incredible views of Gatineau Park from some of the highest elevation in the area.

How do I get to the trailhead? Park in Blanchet Beach parking lot (P13).
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Distance from Ottawa: 25 km


3. Sir John A. Macdonald (SJAM) Winter Trail

 SJAMJames Peltzer

Length: 16 km
Difficulty: Easy

Officially opened in 2017, this salt-free, groomed, multi-use trail welcomes a diversity of winter sports, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking.

How do I get to the trailhead? This trail runs westward from the Canadian War Museum.
Read moreClick here

Distance from Ottawa: Located in the city


4. Mer Bleue Bog (50-52)



Length: 12.8 km
Difficulty: Moderate

One of the most stunning areas in the Greenbelt, Mer Bleue has a northern boreal landscape and Arctic ecosystem. Trail 50, 51 and 52 are separate loops that can be combined for a lovely ski through a picturesque forest.

How do I get to the trailhead? Parking is available in lots P20-23.
Read moreClick here

Distance from Ottawa: 18 km


5. Ottawa River Pathway


Length: 30 km one-way
Difficulty: Moderate

Snowshoeing and skiing are both allowed on this long, meandering trail in Ottawa. Heavily trafficked in the summer months, it’s part of Ontario’s section of the Trans Canada Trail (TCT).

How do I get to the trailhead? Start at Vanier Parkway and St. Patrick Street.
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Distance from Ottawa: Located in the city

6. Shoreline Trail (10)

Shirley’s Bay


Length: 4.2 km (loop)
Elevation gain: 33 metres
Difficulty: Easy

Snowshoe or cross-country ski through fields, low vegetation and forest on this tranquil trail. Parts of the trail offer views of the Ottawa River, where you can often see people ice fishing.

How do I get to the trailhead? Park across from Carling Avenue in P2. Parking is also available is P1 and P3.
Read moreClick here

Distance from Ottawa: 24 km


7. Jack Pine Trail

Stony Swamp Conservation Area


Length: 3.1 km
Duration: 1-2 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Three loops cross over beaver ponds on this snowshoeing trail, which includes a boardwalk. For a bit of downhill action, head to the nearby tobogganing hill at Bruce Pit.

How do I get to the trailhead? Park in P9, between Moodie Drive, West Hunt Club and Highway 416.
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Distance from Ottawa: 20 km


8. Trails 61, 62 & 63

Green’s Creek


Length: 4.1 km
Duration: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Located to the east of Ottawa, Green’s Creek offers groomed cross-country skiing trails in the winter. Stop at lookout points for gorgeous views and ski through post-glacial history and fossils.

How do I get to the trailhead? Parking is available in P25 and P26.
Read moreClick here

Distance to Ottawa: Located in the city

9. Watt’s Creek Pathway

Shirley’s Bay


Length: 9.3 km
Difficulty: Moderate 

Part of the TCT, this cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking and fat biking trail connects to the Greenbelt. Dogs are allowed on the trail.

How do I get to the trailhead? Park at P1, P2 or P3.
Read moreClick here

Distance to Ottawa: 18 km


10. Old Quarry Trail (23)

Stony Swamp Conservation Area


Length: 3.1 km (loop)
Duration: 1-2 hours
Elevation: 130 m
Difficulty: Easy

Bring your dog, fat bike or cross-country skis to this family friendly trail. Ideal for an afternoon outing, the trail winds through beautiful, snow-covered forest.

How do I get to the trailhead? The trailhead is located off Eagleson Road in Kanata. Park in P5.
Read and

Distance from Ottawa: 20 km


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