Keep active this winter with an expanded trail network, interactive map and personal challenge!

To help everyone keep active during the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Capital Commission (NCC) is providing an unprecedented winter offering to create more public space for outdoor physical and mental well-being. With over 450 km of trails for skiing, snowshoeing, snow biking, walking or hiking, hills for tobogganing and fire pits to warm up by, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in our “Winter Capital.”

We’re also making it easier for residents to discover the expanded winter trail network, with our new interactive map, while providing additional incentives to experience our assets by launching two #WinterCapital challenges!

Please note that all users are asked to practise physical distancing, and follow NCC-specific rules, as well as local public health directives to ensure that everyone can enjoy our assets safely.  

Expanded Winter Trail Network 

In partnership with the Urban Winter Trails Alliance, the NCC is adding close to 50 percent more accessible winter trail space (in terms of length and width) to the Ottawa area, as part of a pilot project. These include:

  • SJAM Winter Trail, 18 km 
  • Orleans Ski Club, 19 km + 1 km (City of Ottawa land) 
  • Kanata Nordic Ski Club, 8 km  
  • Rideau Winter Trail, 9 km  
  • Britannia Winter Trail Association, 4 km + 4 km (City of Ottawa land) 
  • Ski Heritage East, 10 km + 7 km (City of Ottawa land)

 Beyond Gatineau Park in the Outaouais region, residents can also enjoy free access to a trail network from Leamy Lake to Gatineau Park, through a partnership with the Ville de Gatineau and the Centre de plein air du Lac-Leamy

Over the course of this winter, users of NCC assets will be surveyed, and counters will be used at various entry points to gather feedback and data to inform future decision making.

#WinterCapital Interactive Map  

Our Winter Capital interactive map allows you to plan your perfect winter outing. Start by selecting an activity, then choose your experience, the duration and the level of difficulty. The sharable map will then suggest a variety of routes for you to enjoy — within the downtown core, in the Greenbelt or in Gatineau Park! 

#WinterCapital Challenges

As an additional incentive to encourage the active use of NCC assets over the winter months, we are pleased to announce a new partnership with Sportstats and Virtual Run Canada which allows you to participate in two specific challenges:

  • #WinterCapital Trail Network Challenge, January 1 to March 15, 2021;
  • #WinterCapital Rideau Canal Skateway Challenge, January 10 to March 15, 2021 (weather and conditions permitting).

By registering for free, participants will be encouraged to track and share their progress with their friends. Those who wish to receive a recognition package and medal for their accomplishment may do so by paying a nominal fee. Participants have until March 31, 2021 to submit their results.

Wait! There’s more for you to enjoy in our #WinterCapital! 

Our favourite activities are back through the NCC’s collaboration with municipal and community partners.  

Rideau Canal Skateway — World’s largest skating rink! 

The Rideau Canal Skateway is a must for those who want to experience winter in Canada’s Capital. For this 51st season, our Skateway team has deployed a secret weapon to help freeze a section of the ice, and is working to ensure that COVID-19 public health directives are respected.  

Changing facilities will be open, with maximum numbers of users allowed at any given time, and 50 additional benches will be placed along the canal to make changing into skates easier. 

Gatineau Park — One of the largest cross-country ski networks in North America! 

Escape to Gatineau Park to discover all that winter has to offer! When it’s time for a break from your favourite activity, such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or snow biking, stop by one of our new fire pits to warm up.

If you are counting on accessing the indoor warmth of day shelters, please note that once the winter season officially launches in Gatineau Park, a new usage system will be in place:

  • Daytimes, from 7 am to 5 pm, the shelters will be available for one household at a time, on a first-come, first-served basis for short periods to warm up or have a snack.   
  • Evenings, from 5 pm to 11 pm, an online reservation system will be available to allow a single household to book a shelter for a 75-minute period, starting two days prior to the reservation time. 

Details about the reservation system can be found here: https://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/places/gatineau-park-day-shelters

As there have been a record number of season pass sales this year, we strongly recommend visiting Gatineau Park at off-peak times, such as during the week and toward the end of the day. The purchase of a pass does not guarantee access to a specific parking lot, especially during the busiest times. Since we expect the Chelsea sector to be particularly busy on weekends, we encourage users to visit other parts of the Park, or explore other trails during peak periods. 

When planning your outing, visit our website and social media channels for the latest on the availability of parking in Gatineau Park, and check our interactive map to ensure that you choose the right trail for your activity. 

Greenbelt — Largest publicly owned greenbelt in the world! 

With over 150 kilometres of trails and some of the best tobogganing hills in the Ottawa region, Canada’s Capital Greenbelt makes for a great all-ages family outing. With cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, snow biking and tobogganing, our Greenbelt becomes a winter wonderland for all to enjoy.  

Note that parking lot P7 on the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway will be plowed to allow a convenient western access point to the Ski Heritage East multi-use winter trail.

Nature lovers can also observe many species of wildlife, and the Greenbelt’s proximity to residential areas makes it a choice destination for safe and active outings this winter.

Bistro at Remic Rapids — Warm up and fuel up!  

We are pleased to announce that the NCC Bistro at Remic Rapids will be open this winter. Scheduled to open in early January, this winter node will provide users of the SJAM Winter Trail a place to rest and enjoy a variety of food and beverage options, the opportunity to warm up by heaters and a firepit, as well as access to temporary washrooms located next to the Nordic Village Rest Area. 

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