The best cross-country ski trails in and around Ottawa

The best cross-country ski trails in and around Ottawa

Discover some of the best cross-country ski trails in and around the city of Ottawa. A great winter activity for the whole family!

Calling all beginner and expert cross-country skiers! If you are looking for some great spots to cross-country ski in and around the city of Ottawa, then we've got you covered. Find amazing trails for some beautiful cross-country skiing in and around Ottawa's downtown core. From flat trails to long loops, we've got plenty of options for solo skiers and families alike! Take advantage of every fresh snowfall, grab your cross-country skiing equipment and head out for some fresh air!

young girl cross-country skiing

Explore the best cross-country ski trails in Ottawa! 

Gatineau Park

Just 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa, Gatineau Park is a beautiful option where cross-country skiers will find over 200 km. of beautiful cross-country ski trails. A winter pass is required for access to trails, but once inside, you will find 50 circuits of flat, hilly and technical trails to choose from. This beautiful park may very well become one of your favourite spots to enjoy recreational trails, intermediate trails and more difficult trails, depending on the day!

close-up of person cross-country skiing

Britannia Winter Trail

Expect to find approximately 17 km. of groomed trails in this lovely spot just 15 minutes west of downtown Ottawa. The trail starts in Britannia Park and goes east along the much-used recreational Trans-Canada Trail all the way to the Deschenes Rapids parking lot, and then west through Andrew Haydon Park.This winter wonderland is also used by snowshoers, walkers and fat bikers; so be prepared to share the space. It's a beautiful recreational trail that is loved by skiers of all levels.

young boy holding cross-country skis and poles

Ottawa's Greenbelt

These protected lands surround the city, and have long been a favourite for winter activities like cross-country skiing, walking, hiking and sledding. A great option for family skiing, you just may find your favourite trails in this conserved natural setting. There is plenty of space and many groomed, multi-use trails for people of all ages to enjoy the activity of their choice. Adults and children alike will find cross-country skiing trails to suit their level of experience in the sport. 

person going uphill on cross-country skis

Murphy's Point Provincial Park

Just over a one-hour drive from Ottawa, this area (located on Big Rideau Lake) is considered to offer some of the best cross-country skiing in southeastern Ontario. With 4 km for skate skiing, 14 km for classic cross-country skiing and 8 km for backcountry skiing, there really is something for all kinds of skiers.

Two people cross-country skiing

Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area

Located just outside Kingston, this is a great relaxed cross-country ski spot that is perfect for families who enjoy cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. With 13 km of mechanically groomed cross-country trails, there are plenty of options to choose from for a lovely day out in the snow.

The best cross-country ski trails in and around Ottawa

Mooney's Bay Ski Centre

This infrastructure, that is also accessible during the summer, is transformed into a cross-country ski centre during the cold winter season. It offers 5 km of groomed trails that are lit up for evening skiing! It's the perfect place to practice your favourite sport, even after dark. For beginners, there is a cross-country ski school available for all ages and levels! 

The best cross-country ski trails in and around Ottawa

Nakkertok Nordic

This is THE biggest cross-country ski club in the east coast of Canada! Located 20 minutes from downtown Ottawa, this ski destination offers a network of approximately 80 km of trails. There are two sectors: Nakkertok South and Nakkertok North. Also, Nakkertok has its own snow-making machine, which means you can enjoy cross-country skiing early (or late) in the season! 

The best cross-country ski trails in and around Ottawa

Getting ready for a day of cross-country skiing in Ottawa

Essential cross-country skiing equipment

First of all, you will need cross-country skis that are suited to your type of practice, whether classic or skate skis. Your poles need to be the right size for your height, and be sure to have bindings that are compatible with your ski boots. Visit us in-store to speak with one of our teammates about the best equipment for your needs. 

Next, invest in a good pair of ski boots that are comfortable and appropriate for your needs, because they are a crucial part of your comfort while practicing this sport. Don't forget to wear ski socks to avoid getting blisters. Finally, consider buying replacement poles as a back-up, some wax for your skis and a backpack to store your belongings and bring water with you on the trails. 

The best cross-country ski trails in and around Ottawa

Weather conditions and what to wear...

Weather conditions can vary considerably when practicing cross-country skiing, so it is important to always be prepared. First, check your local weather forecast before heading out and plan accordingly. When getting dressed, opt for layers of clothing so that you can adjust what you are wearing according to the temperature. 

Start with a light base layer that is breathable and wicks away moisture, then put on an insulating layer to retain your body heat. Finally, put on an exterior layer that is waterproof and windproof to protect you from the weather conditions. Don't forget to wear a hat, warm gloves and a face mask to protect your face from the wind and the cold. 

The best cross-country ski trails in and around Ottawa

Safety and orientation tips

Before you head out, be sure to leave your itinerary with someone you trust and ensure that you have a method of communicating in case of emergency. Always bring a first aid kit with you, as well as a headlamp, because the natural daylight fades quickly during the winter. When you are skiing, stay on the marked trails and follow the rules in place. 

Keep an eye on the weather conditions and avoid skiing in bad weather or dangerous conditions. If you venture off the trails, be sure to have strong orientation skills and a topographic map with you. Finally, be aware of your fitness level and don't try to surpass your limitations, especially in difficult conditions. 

Sustainable skiing: Respecting nature and the trails

Ecological ski practices and support for trail conservation efforts

Cross-country skiing is an outdoor activity that can be practiced ecologically. To support trail conservation efforts, it is important to follow a few basic principles. First of all, respect the marked trails and designated zones and avoid skiing outside these trails to minimize the impact on the local flora and fauna.

"Leave No Trace" principle
This principle is fundamental for minimizing the environmental impact of our outdoor activities, including cross-country skiing. The idea is to leave as little trace behind after your time out in nature. In order to do this, bring all of your garbage with you, even organic waste, to preserve the cleanliness and beauty of the natural spaces you are enjoying. By following the "Leave No Trace" principle, you are contributing to the preservation of nature for future generations while fully enjoying your cross-country skiing experience. 

The best cross-country ski trails in and around Ottawa

Ottawa and the surrounding areas offer numerous trails for cross-country skiers of all levels. Knowing there are so many options to choose from makes it more very appealing to get your cross-country ski gear, layer up with the right technical clothing and head out to the snowy trails. If you're looking for a really convenient way to transport your skis, our folding cross-country skis may be the perfect pick. They make it easier than ever to pack up and go!
Happy skiing!


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How to choose your cross-country ski poles: What size do you need?

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woman and man cross-country skiing

The benefits of cross-country skiing

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Everything about cross-country skiing

Everything about cross-country skiing

Everything about cross-country skiing