Hiking with your kids is a perfect way to get them active and connected to nature at a young age. In the Ottawa area, we have a plethora of options when it comes to parks and trails, many of which are perfect for the entire family.
Here is a list of some my favorites you can enjoy whether on balmy summer days or bundled up during the winter:
What kid doesn’t love rushing white water? This easy, 1.3km loop, is perfect for families with kids of all ages to get out and about in Ottawa. The Hog's Back Falls are a natural wonder and can be easily viewed right at the start of the trail. Follow along the river and duck under Heron road to enjoy a nice picnic and more wandering options in Vincent Massey Park.
You may also want to try your hand at snowshoeing on this trail in the winter months!
Located in Britannia Bay, the Mud Lake Trail is a 3.2km out and back style hike through the beautiful Britannia Conservation Area. It is easy to access from Cassels St. and is a perfect spot to enjoy nature with your family. Be sure to bring some bird seed as the birds and chipmunks will eat right from your hand, and more rare birds such as woodpeckers, owls, and wild turkeys have been spotted in this park.
Mer Bleue Conservation area is just on the outskirts of the city and is a welcome getaway for many Ottawa families. The Bog trail boardwalk is accessed via Ridge Rd and is an easy 1.2km trek through natural wetland. Be sure to bring your camera and bird seed, wildlife spotting is common - including the chance to see a real Canadian beaver! The park also had free parking and beautiful picnic tables for snacks or lunch.
Located in Nepean, this gem loop is a great escape from busy city life. It’s easily accessed from the Nepean Sportsplex and makes a quick 3.5km loop through the forest. Shorter loops can also be made if your kids are younger or you're short on time. It’s an ideal place to get some family exercise in the winter months as the trails are well maintained year round.
For many kids, discovering ruins and old historical buildings are a highlight on any hike. The Lime Kiln trail just south of Ottawa leads hikers to the remains of Francis Flood’s kiln, which was built in the late 1900’s. The site has since been restored and is a great place for kids to discover. You can continue along the trail to make a 4km loop using the Chipmunk trail.
This lake in Gatineau Park was named after the Pink family who originally settled nearby and not for the colour of the lake itself (much to the disappointment of many kids, I’m sure). Nevertheless this is a fantastic 2.1km family hike that circumnavigates the entire lake. Pink Lake is a popular spot among families in the summer and there are some elevation changes with stairs, so it’s best to leave the stroller at home for this one.
It is said that some of the species of fish that live in this lake are prehistoric - be sure to keep your eyes peeled in case one comes close to the surface!
This is another family favorite trail with historical ruins to discover! The Carbide Willson Trail is an out and back style, 4.3km hike that takes you along Meech Lake and up to the remains of an old laboratory built by Thomas “Carbide” Willson, the inventor of Calcium Carbide. Kids can explore the ruins and marvel at the adjacent waterfalls, which together are a stunning sight!
Exploring hikes and trails as a family is, in my experience, one of the best ways to get fresh air, exercise, and be constantly entertained. Pack a picnic, bathing suit, and even the family pet. Check out one or all of these spots listed as they are sure to leave your family with a stronger bond and an overall “feel good” experience.
Also, feel free to check out our other articles for families in Ottawa below!
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