Your weekend tour planners, Katherine, Marshall, Richard, Ruth and Sue, look forward to a fun-filled weekend cycling tour to our Nation’s capital.
We went back to last year’s Welland tour and decided that its foundational philosophy makes good sense for Ottawa. Ottawa 2018 is not meant to be a race, but rather a chance to ride with good friends, enjoy each other’s company, stop along the way to smell the roses, taste the wine, and sample the food.
Again this year, we will tour in two riding groups – the Long Route riders and the Short Route riders. We’ll expand on the details later on.
Each group will have two leaders to ensure that no one falls behind and rides on their own. Hopefully we can all do the defined distance. However if, for some reason, the distance has to be cut short, having two leaders gives us the ability to divide into 2 groups.
We will ride as a group and will not knowingly drop any one. No one will ride on their own.
Ready for the details? Here goes.
- Recommended Friday, August 10 evening arrival
- Saturday, August 11 and Sunday, August 12 rides starting at 10:00 am. from the Ottawa U Residence parking lot
- Saturday evening – free time
- Some riders will stay an extra night on Sunday
- Ganaraska Freewheeler members
- Family and friends welcome – waiver form and nominal daily fee required
- Accommodations are the responsibility of each rider
- Recommended accommodation
- Any number of motels and b&bs in downtown Ottawa
- Will depend on your choice of accommodation and restaurants
- Ottawa University group rate is:
- $135.50 per night includes tax for the suite (divide by two if you’re sharing with another person or couple)
- Breakfast not included, but kitchenette is!
- Group rate is for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights – you must book by July 10, 2018 to receive this rate
- COMMENT IF you plan to join the tour; if you are looking to share a suite with a partner, include this in your comment
- If you want to book at Ottawa U, you will need access to our booking instruction page that includes the promotion code – email Marshall for the password to the booking information page
In planning route options for Ottawa 2018, we debated safety considerations and realities of road and traffic conditions. In the end, we decided on taking full advantage of Ottawa’s amazing path system.
Similar to last year, we will have two groups with two ride leaders:
- Short Route Ride Leaders: Richard & Marshall
- Long Route Ride Leaders: Sue & Pete
However, instead of two completely different routes each day, both teams will share the same routes. The only differences are that the long distance riders will be riding further and climbing higher each day. We’ll be able to all start together. Eventually, the long distance riders will move ahead. If all goes to plan, we will finish together. Beer may or may not be at the finishing line.
A good majority of the road biking will be in Gatineau Park and out along the Ottawa River in the east end where the traffic is much lighter. The paths may be crowded in places, but they will be much safer! On both days, the routes are roughly 80% paths for the short distance riders and 70% paths for the long distance riders.
Saturday Route details: A Canal & Two Rivers
- Short distance and elevation: 51.3 kilometres and 368 metres of climbing
- Long distance and elevation: 73.1kilometres and 530 metres of climbing
Sunday Route details: Pathways to the Gatineaus
- Short distance and elevation: 46.1 kilometres and 382 metres of climbing
- Long distance and elevation: 71.2 kilometres and 785 metres of climbing
Saturday Ride Details
From Ottawa U, we drop down to the Rideau Canal, crossing over it via the Corktown Footbridge, and biking south along the canal on the Rideau Canal Western Pathway for 7.5 kms to Hartwell’s Lockstation.
Along this stretch, we pass Lansdowne Park, home to the Ottawa Red and Black CFL football team and the Ottawa 67’s OHA hockey Team. We will also bike around Dow’s Lake where the Dow’s Lake Pavilion might rate a stop and look.
At Hartwell’s Lockstation, we walk our bikes over the Lock gates and cross over to the east side of the canal. We are now bordering on the Carleton University Campus, so expect that the bike path could be extra busy.
Continuing south on the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway, we pass by Hog’s Back Lockstation. When we get to Mooney’s Bay, the path veers to the left, leading us onto the sidewalk on Hog’s Back Road. This is where the Rideau Canal connects with the Rideau River. It will be necessary to go on the sidewalk (or road) to cross the bridge over the Rideau River.
Once across, if it’s not too busy, we will make a right into Mooney’s Bay Park and check out the beach. There is a canteen at the beachfront if we are looking for a snack.
After Mooney’s Bay, we return to the pathway which resumes immediately after the bridge, passing through a small tunnel under Hog’s Back Road. At this point, we can stop and check out the impressive view of the waterfalls and rapids that occur as the Rideau River spills over the top of the dam that holds the water in Mooney’s Bay. Time to bring out the cameras!
From here, we follow the Rideau River Eastern Pathway north (approximately 12 kilometres) along the Rideau River until it comes to an end at the Ottawa River. The pathway runs next to the Rideau River most of the time and passes through multiple parks ending at Sussex Drive and the entrance to Rideau Falls Park.
Rideau Falls Park deserves a visit. Maybe a beer and some lunch at the Tavern on the Falls. The Rideau River is split in two by Green Island, as it drops into the Ottawa River giving the impression of a double falls. We will cross over the river and Green Island by a footbridge (may have to wheel the bikes) to observe the falls from both sides, exiting left onto Sussex Drive from the parking lot of the National Research Council of Canada.
Proceeding east on Sussex Drive, we pass by the French Embassy and the official Residence of the Prime Minister. It would be neat to drop by and visit Justin. However, rumour has it that he and his family are not living there right now, because the building was condemned and is currently being renovated and brought up to code. Also hear that they are boarding across the street at the Governor General’s.
Continuing on Sussex Drive through two traffic circles, we exit from the second one onto the Ottawa River Pathway, then continue east on the pathway until it exits right onto the Sir George-Etienne Cartier Parkway. Two points of interest on this stretch are Rockcliffe Park Pavilion and Rockcliffe Lookout.
Sir George-Etienne Cartier Parkway will take us a short distance, until we turn left onto the Aviation Pathway to find one of several side paths down a short hill leading to the Ottawa River Pathway.
On this stretch, a wide crushed stone pathway runs only a few feet from the water. The crushed stone surface is easy to ride and suitable for all types of bikes. If uncomfortable riding on the crushed stone, we can always move back up to the paved Aviation Pathway.
Our route then follows the Ottawa River Pathway for approximately 8 kilometres when the crushed stone path heads inland and gradually loops back towards downtown Ottawa via the George-Étienne Cartier Parkway.
At this point the Short Distance Riders head west back to Ottawa while the Long Distance Riders continue east and do an additional 20 kilometres out and back to Petrie Island Beach.
Both Riding Groups use the same route back to Ottawa U. We return west along the Sir George-Etienne Cartier Parkway to CH Airport Marina Road, picking up the Aviation Pathway past the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, exiting the pathway at Hillsdale Road.
Winding our way through the Rockcliffe Park area, we will pass Stornoway (home of the Official Opposition Leader) and behind Rideau Hall (home to the Governor General) checking out how the other half live in Ottawa.
Once through Rockcliffe Park, we cross the Rideau River and head back to Ottawa U through what Marshall and Richard like to call Embassy Row. We will pass a number of Government Embassies – Turkey, Romania, Russia, Egypt, Switzerland and Morocco. Plans were to take in the US Embassy, but Justin has advised that we should steer clear of it as his friend Mr. Trump has been very busy building blockades around it.
Ottawa U here we come. Our Bike riding is over for today! Where is the Beer?
Sunday Ride Details
Our first point of interest on Sunday’s ride is the Rideau Canal Locks, a series of 8 locks that are used to join the Rideau Canal to the Ottawa River. We will use the Canal Lane walkway on the west side of these locks to get down to the Ottawa River/Trans Canada Trail pathway behind the Parliament buildings. We will have to carry our bikes down some stairs at this point, but what awaits us below will be well worth the effort. Hopefully we will get to see some boats moving through the locks.
Once on the Trans Canada Trail pathway, we make our way (approximately 6 kilometres) west to the Champlain Bridge where we will cross the Ottawa River to the Gatineaus. The Trans Canada Trail follows close to the river, allowing amazing views across the Ottawa River to the Gatineaus.
Within our first couple of kilometres, we pass by the Mill Street Brew Pub, a popular stop with cyclists who want to enjoy a cold beer. Sorry, but far too early for a beer at this point, still let’s check it out as it may rate a stop on our return trip.
As we near the Champlain Bridge, the next point of interest will be the John Felice Ceprano arts and sculptures overlooking the Remic Rapids on the Ottawa River.
How about a group picture here? Let’s see if we can better the one taken on the GFW tour a few years back.
The Champlain Bridge which we use to cross over to the Gatineaus is a long expand over a series of islands on the Ottawa River, a tourist site in itself, with safe wide bike lanes running each way. Part way across the bridge, we take a short detour onto Bate Island. Bate Island is a hotspot for whitewater (slalom) kayaking. Hopefully the conditions are right so that we can see some kayakers perform some impressive maneuvers through the beautiful Remic Rapids.
Once on the Gatineau side of the river, we move onto the Voyageurs Pathway and continue west towards the town of Aylmer with the next point of interest being the Deschenes Rapids. There are several places to stop and enjoy the views. When the water is high and running fast, it is an impressive sight to see the force of the Ottawa River as it runs through the ruins of an old hydro dam.
Continuing west along the Voyageurs Pathway, we hit the Aylmer Marina, a great place to stop and take in the view or check out activities in the waterfront area. In the immediate vicinity of the marina are a large park, a public beach, the Grande-Rivière Sailing Club, and a restaurant/bar featuring a huge terrace, perhaps a good rest stop before heading east to the hills of Gatineau Park.
Riding west along the Ottawa River on the Voyageurs pathway for another couple of kilometers, we turn east and connect with the Pionniers Pathway. From here, we climb a few hills (nothing too steep) as we are now heading east towards the Gatineau Parkway. The Pionniers Pathway at this point runs along the busy Highway 148 for a few kilometers, and is quite boring compared to what we’ve ridden so far.
We should take the opportunity here to pick up the pace a bit and get to the more exciting and beautiful Gatineau Park. But “hey” Long Distance Riders, don’t wear yourself out because you have some real climbing to look forward to in the park.
On reaching the lower Gatineau Park area, the tour will continue along the park’s trail network south towards the Ottawa River for the short distance riders OR along the parkway north into the park for the long distance riders.
Long Distance Group
From here, the long distance riders turn north climbing up the Gatineau Parkway and over to the village of Old Chelsea.
At about 5 kilometres into the above segment, we will be challenged by a fairly long and definitely one of the steeper hills on the Gatineau Parkway (a climb of 220 ft or 67 m) ending at the outdoor interpretative centre at Pink Lake. Pink Lake is worth a stop for a rest and some pictures.
The village of Old Chelsea is also worth some exploring and perhaps a good place to grab some lunch. Why not give the Chelsea Brew Pub a try?
From Old Chelsea, we’ll head south on Chemin Kingsmere to Chemin Notch, following it down to the Gatineau Parkway. Left onto the parkway, you’ll pass Pink Lake again and “yes” you will now have the pleasure of flying down one of the steeper hills on the Gatineau Parkway.
Continuing south on the Gatineau Parkway to the park exit, we’ll switch between road and paths, but if the traffic is light, staying on the road is recommended. From the exit, you’ll follow the signs to Voyageurs Pathway East and continue east on the path to the Alexandra Bridge. Enjoy the views across the Ottawa River to the Parliament Buildings.
Short Distance Group
On making it to the Gatineau Parkway, we will now have the pleasure of biking south to the Ottawa River via the Sentier du Parc de la Gatineau pathway. Enjoy the leisurely ride down to the park exit after crossing the Parkway and entering the pathway on the east side. On exiting Gatineau park, you’ll follow the signs to Voyageurs Pathway East and continue east on the path to the Alexandra Bridge. Enjoy the views across the Ottawa River to the Parliament Buildings.
Following the Pathway under the Alexandra Bridge, you’ll circle around the Jacques-Cartier Park and back to the Alexandra Bridge via Rue Laurier. Enjoy the views east down the Ottawa River.
From this point on, both Riding Groups use the same route back to Ottawa U.
Crossing the bridge onto the Trans Canada Trail and over to the Canal Lane walkway at the Rideau Canal Locks, you’ll be directly behind the Parliament Buildings again and ready to follow the Rideau Canal back to Ottawa U.
But, first you may want to venture over to the “Mill Street Brew Pub”, (which was closed when we passed this morning) for a drink on their patio. You may even run into your GFW buddies from the other riding group!!
Join us in Ottawa this August for a fun-filled, action-packed cycling tour!