Best Bike Trails in Ottawa

The city of Ottawa appears to be fairly flat, but mountain bikers will be pleased to know the highest and lowest points in the city are separately by a respectable 400 feet of elevation. As the capital of Canada, Ottawa sees its fair share of government, business, and tourist visits, and exploring the local topography via mountain bike is always worthwhile.

South March Highlands Conservation Forest

Photo: lhzawd

Not only does the trail system at South March Highlands offer something for everyone–smooth, flowy sections mixed with rock gardens and bridges–it’s also a dual-season destination offering ideal conditions for fat biking in winter. In total, there are about 20 miles of interconnected trails here, located roughly 17 miles from downtown Ottawa (but still within the city limits.)

Kanata Trail System

Photo: Icyrus

The Kanata Trail System is connected to the South March Highlands Conservation Forest. The rolling terrain at Kanata is great for cross-country riding. Newer riders may find the trails to be technically challenging, and even advanced riders say the network can be confusing to first-time visitors.

Mont Sainte Marie

Photo: lhzawd

Better known as Velo MSM, Mont Sainte Marie features a summer bike park with lift-served trails built and maintained by a local non-profit group. Cross country and gravity riders alike will appreciate the expertly-sculpted trails and epic scenery at Mont Sainte Marie. A suggested $10 donation helps keep the trails maintained, and riders will need to purchase tickets to access the lift system.

Mont Tremblant

While the Mont Tremblant ski area, located less than 2 hours from Ottawa, doesn’t offer downhill riding, the resort does maintain almost 40 miles of fat bike trails in the winter. In summer, riders can choose from among nearly 30 miles of scenic bike trails and forest roads in the area.

MTB Kingston

MTB Kingston is a community-driven, four-season bike park located about two hours south of Ottawa. This private trail system boasts almost 25 miles of trails, though riders will need to apply for a membership or visit as a guest of an existing member to check it out. There are several XC loops at MTB Kingston that range from beginner to advanced.

Next up: Hartford, CT.

# Comments

  • PGH Rider

    Just an FYI for the Pittsburgh section of your article. PORC stands for Pittsburgh Off Road Cyclists. Your link takes you to Pittsburgh Offroad which is a motorized mud bogging/lift kit type of group. Additionally, PORC does not as a group build or maintain trails in Pittsburgh (maybe as volunteers for other other groups or illegally). The main groups that build and maintain trails are Trail Pittsburgh (http://trailpittsburgh.org/), the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy(https://www.rachelcarsontrails.org/), Allegheny Land Trust, Hollow Oak Land Trust, Allegheny County Parks, and the Mount Washington CDC. If you need help reporting on Pittsburgh mountain biking in the future, please let me know.

    • Jeff Barber

      Good catch on the URL and thanks for the shout out to other groups in the area!

  • kevindsingleton

    Two more excellent Pittsburgh singletracks are the Bavington trail, in Hillman State Park, near Burgettstown (southwest of Pittsburgh, search for “Haul Road Trailhead”), and the trails at Brady’s Run Park, in Beaver County, a little north of the airport.

  • juarez

    Cool article!
    It’s great to see other people writing about our quiet, humble riding area (Ottawa-Gatineau).

    Of course it’s FAT season here now. We have some crazy good shared single track is 2 riding areas, plus Kanata, Larose, and city trails.

    You can learn more about our fat riding areas here:

    Our local networks are growing by leaps and bounds too. Advocacy over the last 10 years is paying off and our Gatineau Park Trail Network will be growing exponentially as previously limited bike access is increased overall rate next 5 years.

    And we have a brand new riding area called Larose Forest that is multi-use, purpose machine built flow trail. Larose has BIG plans to expand and local riders love the first beginner and intermediate trails that are now open. (Did I mention how FUN these trails are?) The Larose management team has a BIG vision for the area.

    Larose Forest Primer:

    Have fun everywhere.


  • Downhill Mike

    Also got to add Durham Forest, Dagmar, Walker Woods and Glen Major. Its all can be connected together by bike in one day and easily has over 100km of singletrack.

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