NCC expanding winter trail network in Ottawa

After selling a record number of winter passes to Gatineau Park this year, the National Capital Commission (NCC) says it's turning its attention to its trail network in Ottawa, adding another 24 kilometres.

Record number of winter passes to Gatineau Park already sold

The National Capital Commission says it's sold 15,000 winter passes to Gatineau Park for the 2020-2021 season. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

After selling a record number of winter passes to Gatineau Park this year, the National Capital Commission (NCC) says it's turning its attention to its trail network in Ottawa.

The NCC has sold more than 15,000 season passes to Gatineau Park's cross-country ski, snowshoe and winter cycling trails, said spokesperson Dominique Huras. Last year, the NCC sold 11,305 passes.

As demand for outdoor recreation options surges during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCC has announced it's adding 24 kilometres to its community-maintained winter trails in Ottawa, and will also widen the Sir John A. Macdonald (SJAM) winter pathway.

"To help everyone keep active during the COVID-19 pandemic, the [NCC] is providing an unprecedented winter offering to create more public space for outdoor physical and mental well-being," the NCC wrote in its release.

The expansion will see additions to six recreation trails in Ottawa:

  • Sir John A. Macdonald (SJAM) pathway lengthened by two kilometres.
  • Ski Heritage East Winter Trail lengthened by seven kilometres.
  • Britannia Winter Trail lengthened by two kilometres.
  • Rideau Winter Trail lengthened by six kilometres.
  • Kanata Nordic Ski Club lengthened by six kilometres.
  • Orleans Nordic Ski Club lengthened by one kilometre.

The NCC said it plans to count visitors and gather feedback to inform future winter trail planning.

WATCH | The NCC's pandemic winter recreation plans:

NCC expands trail network as demand for outdoor activities spikes

2 years ago
Duration 0:51
Valérie Dufour, senior manager of communications at the NCC, says the agency has expanded its winter trail networks in Ottawa to encourage residents to get outside during the pandemic.

The NCC is adding two additional winter parking lots in Gatineau Park, one at P20 near Breton Beach at Lac Philippe, and the other near Old Chelsea and Kingsmere roads.

Gatineau Park shelters will be open on a first-come, first-served basis during the day, and for 75-minute reservations in the evening. The NCC plans to light bonfires in the park to enable skiers and others to warm up. Winter camping is still available in the park, the NCC said. 

The NCC has launched a new interactive map to help visitors plan their routes and take part in two recreation challenges, one on the Rideau Canal and the other using the NCC's trail network. The map also has suggestions for dog walks and toboggan hills. 


  • Based on information from the NCC, an earlier version of this story said there would be no overnight stays in Gatineau Park this winter. The NCC later clarified it's still offering this service.
    Dec 18, 2020 1:22 PM ET

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