Great Ways to Meet People for X-C skiing

Here's a quick list of how to meet other x-c skiers.  While it's specifically for Ottawa, it may give you some ideas for other cities.

1. Ottawa Outdoor Club
They have events at Mooney's Bay and also meet at Sandy Hill CC to go x-c skiing in Gatineau

2. Ottawa Ramblers
They meet downtown Ottawa to do some x-c skiing in Gatineau.  The outings indicate the experience level recommended.

3. RA Ski Club
They meet at RA Centre to do x-c skiing in the Gatineaus and sometimes the Greenbelt.

4. Ottawa Meet-Up Group
I've seen some specifically for x-c skiing in the past but there are also outdoor activity groups.

5. Reddit thread
I've seen threads of other Ottawa locals looking for skiing partners.  The last one was for women aged mid-20's to mid-30s.

6. Ottawa Section of the Alpine Club of Canada
They meet at Parkdale and Emmerson to do some night x-c skiing in Gatineau.

7. Winter Orienteering
Some of this is done on x-c skis and they have some events in the city including the Winter Solstice Charity Challenge at Lincoln Fields and some orienteering on the Canal.

Do you have any other ideas?  Are there apps available now?

Wild. Here. Urban Cross-Country Skiing Series 2017

PART ONE - Four Places to Cross-Country Ski in the City
PART TWO - Cross-Country Ski Basics and Local Rental Locations
PART THREE - How to Find Other Cross-Country Skiers
Read more »

The dark feathered irruption of Centretown - what's going on?

It seems that this winter many Centretown, Vanier, New Edinburgh residents and possibly more (Overbrook? Hintonburg?) are seeing incredible amounts of crows descending into tree tops at sunset to roost for the night.  It's been an incredibly sight and has really lit up the twitterverse and instagramland with many wondering what is going on.  It may not be a true "irruption" but it definitely is unusual.
Irruption (ĭ-rŭp′-sh(ə)n): ecological term for a sudden increase in an animal population (link)
~ Crows starting to gather at Pleasant Park Autumn 2015 ~

Crows roost in flocks every winter for safety and warmth.  They will travel many kilometers away during the day visiting various locations looking for food.  You may notice that there will still be a group of them during the day but not large flocks.  These smaller groups are many times families - as  the "teen aged" crows stick close to parents for up to five years, helping to raise younger siblings.  But these daily family units will always return each winter's night to the communal roost.  

In Ottawa the large roost was in the Alta Vista area for years.  In 2011 there was an editorial about this roost and the efforts to dissuade the crows from staying each night.  The roost included patches of woodlot both north and south of the Ottawa Hospital on Smythe Road (Balena, Coronation, Pleasant Park, Valour) and while some residents were obviously irked, others appreciated their nightly crow neighbours.

~ See the small line of crows going east? Vincent Massey Park 2014 ~

Whenever I was driving north on Riverside around sundown I would see a constant stream of black birds flying towards the roost - at first in singles in small numbers but the stream of birds would get busier as it got closer to twilight.  We went to see that roost a couple of years ago in Pleasant Park and it was incredible to see them all settling in for the night.  I also heard recently that they gathered in the Hurdman area by the river.

But this winter they seem to have moved north.  One of the reasons could be all the construction on Riverside disturbing the roost in Hurdman woods.  Possibly the busier shopping area with lighting at night could have disturbed the ones in Coronation?  I've been meaning to go to their old roosts this winter to see what else could be disturbing them or perhaps it's an over crowding of them - was this a boom year for crows?

I came upon a small group of them this month at the north end of the Aviation Parkway.  They were moving east towards the Rockcliffe redevelopment (Wateridge Village) and north along the river. I've never seen them in those numbers in this area before.  But this year is different.  Could it be that the ease of sharing information socially has made it feel like an influx?  Many times the discussion though is - I've never seen anything like this before!  Large groups are being reported along Ogilvie, in Vanier and in Centretown.  What's making them move north?

Every spring these roosts will disperse and disappear as crows choose their own preferred location to raise their young.  This unusual phenomenon happens only in the colder, darker months.

Let us know if you've seen them in your area!


Cornell Lab of Ornithology
National Wildlife Federation
Crows Taking Over Ottawa
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The Fun of Urban Cross Country Skiing in Ottawa - Part Two

Are you thinking about skiing for the first time or are you just a beginner looking for a nice flat place to practice?  Ottawa offers some great opportunities right within the city.  Perhaps you are a tourist here for the Ottawa 2017 celebrations or looking for some urban fun for Canada's 150th and looking for that Canadian Winter Experience?

Let's get you started for some winterland fun.


Cross-country skiing is different from downhill and even snowshoeing as you are exerting lots of energy.  You'll find that you want to dress in layers so that you can take off a layer as you warm up during skiing.  You actually should dress so that you feel just a bit cold when you first get out.  Don't worry, with the blood pumping when you start on your skis, you won't feel that way for long.

The best type of ski pants are thin as you don't want alot of bulk when you are moving.  You'll find many people wearing tight skiing pants that are wind proof on the front (sometimes used as winter jogging pants also).  Add a long underwear underneath and these two layers should be good for days that are just below zero but not too far down into the teens.

Keep your core warm.  Have on at least three layers here.  You may find a fleece vest is a good layer to have also so as not to bulk up your arms too much.

And if you have them bring streamlined (athletic) sunglasses (not goggles) and a fanny pack if you want to carry anything (water, hot packs, keys, phone).  Backpack straps may be annoying.

If you don't have your own set of skis then you can rent them from a few places in the city.


From Fresh Air at the Sir John A. MacDonald Winter Trail 
Location (West): In Champlain Bridge Parking Lot (see map below
Fresh Air Website: Phone 613-729-3002 
Rental Hours: 10 am to 4 pm (weekends) 
Parking: Off of Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway in Champlain Bridge Parking Lot 

Cost: $15 for half day of skiing

Mountain Equipment Co-op 
Location (West): 366 Richmond Road 

Store Hours available on MEC Ottawa website 
Phone 613-729-2700 
Parking: parking at store, including EV Plug-In 
Cost: $20 for classic ski equipment rental for the day 
*Please note that Trailhead no longer does rentals

Mooney's Bay  Ski Centre 
Location (Central - South): 2960 Riverside Drive at Terry Fox Athletic Facility 
City of Ottawa website with phone number and further information 
Facility Hours: 9 am to 9 pm (weekdays) 9 am to 5 pm (weekends) - From Jan to mid-March (weather permitting) 

Parking: available on site
Call for information about rentals: 613-298-3775 
* Please note that there is a $3.25 fee/per person for using groomed trails

Centre de Plein Air du Lac Leamy 
Location (Central - Quebec Side): 100, rue Atawe (ancien chemin du Lac-Leamy), voisin du Réno-Dépôt 
Municipality Website (en Francais): Rental building is underneath Saint Eloi Cafe Bistro 
Winter Hours: 9 am to 7 pm  (last rental is at 4 pm) 
Parking: parking available off of Atawe Street 
Cost: $16 for three hours of skiing

SECOND thing to consider is LOCATION

Are you looking for groomed trails in the city?  As my last cross-country skiing post indicated there are a couple of great options that aren't too far from downtown including the Sir John A MacDonald Winter Trail (16 kilometers long) and Mooney's Bay Ski Centre which offers 5 km of groomed trails for the cost of $3.25 (or take out a pass at the Ottawa Public Library).  Lac Leamy (website link), just over on the Quebec side offers some great options from beginner to intermediate.

  • Sentier du Lac-Leamy (le tour du lac) : 2,5 km de niveau facile
  • Sentier du Ruisseau-Leamy (en direction du Relais plein air du parc de la Gatineau) : 7,2 km de niveau intermédiaire
  • Sentier des Voyageurs (en direction du parc Jacques-Cartier) : 5,9 km de niveau facile

Read all about the Best Urban Places to Cross Country Ski in Ottawa here!

Or why not consider breaking your own trail?  Again there are some great ideas listed in the last Ottawa urban country skiing post.  Really just about anywhere there is a recreational trail or large green space you can break your own trail.  And you may be surprised and find that someone else had the same idea and has broken a trail for you!

and THIRD get ready for THE DAY! 

Cross country skiing is really fun just after it snows.  It's typically milder and you can break new trails.  Also if you fall, there's new soft snow to act as a cushion.

Check trail conditions before you even get out of bed.  The Ottawa Cross-Country Ski Website provides reports on x-c skiing conditions both in town and outside the city.   So if you are going to Mooney's Bay, somewhere in the Greenbelt or on the SJAM trail - Ottawa's passionate skiing community can help you out!

Check the wind speed on local weather channels.  This can have a big impact on your outing especially if you are skiing along the river.

Some extras you may want to pack: bring a snack and water if you are going for an extended period, include some hot packs if conditions are questionable and you are concerned about getting cold and pack a warm drink in a thermos if you are driving to the location.  You can leave this in the car and enjoy at the end of the outing.

Don't forget to get out of wet clothes quickly afterwards or try and have a change of shirts if you are stopping in for a drink - snack afterwards.

And if you are not ready to go on your own - check out Part Three of the Wild. Here. Urban Cross Country Skiing Series - how to find other cross-country skiers.

Wild. Here. Urban Cross-Country Skiing Series 2017

PART ONE - Four Places to Cross-Country Ski in the City
PART TWO - Cross-Country Ski Basics and Local Rental Locations
PART THREE - How to Find Other Cross-Country Skiers

Read more »

Inspiring and Creative Connections with Urban Nature

Have you heard about these?

Screengrab of City of Melbourne website

In 2015, a delightful news report was shared about people emailing trees.  Did you read about this? Melbourne's Urban Forest Visual Mapping project offers online open data and mapping of the city's urban forest that includes 77,000 street and park trees.  Through these maps, local residents are able to access specific information about the tree outside their house, down their street or in their favourite green space.  The data not only includes the species (with major species being Eucalyptus, Elms, Gums, Oaks and Plane Trees) but also includes the life expectancy so that the city can track which trees will need to be replaced in the near (and far) future.  Each tree is assigned an i.d. number and the city's online initiative makes it easy to report issues whether it be tree vandalism, decay, broken branches or similar conditions by a simple button in each tree identification pop-up that states "Email this Tree".  What happened was unexpected.

They city started receiving numerous emails from people writing letters of appreciation and conversation directed specifically for the trees.  People asked the trees' opinions on local teams and even the Greek debt crisis, shared their fond memories of significant trees in their childhood or even looked for commiseration about studying for exams.  Some lamented the fact that the trees were reduced to an i.d. number or sought wisdom from these older and supposedly wiser entities.  Emails started coming from other countries and even overseas.  By the time the news reports were being published, these love letters had amounted to over 3000 email.

I wonder how many they have received now?  (Read full article here.)

Photo from Broken City Lab website

Right here in Canada, a Calgary art installation by Broken City Lab in 2014 offered the opportunity for visitors to the "Varying Proximities" exhibit to call the Bow River through a toll-free hotline (accessible by a manual phone at the gallery or any time through a cell phone).  This toll-free hotline was installed as one part of a larger gallery exhibit that also allowed visitors to taste and savor the river, see the river as presented visually online through a google search and think about the river in terms of various adjectives and adverbs (is the river kind, selective, fierce, forgotten, untimely, gracious, etc.).

From Broken City Lab's online blog:
"Whether nearby or across the world, anyone can attempt to connect to the Bow, and begin to explore its wisdom, or its secrets, or its songs, creating a unique opportunity to explore proximity and access as fundamental components of our relationship to the Bow River."
This toll-free hotline is still active and available as of today (2017).  (Get all details here.)

Image from Wild Homes website

And I just found about this new project in the United Kingdom that is led by Greater London National Park City Initiative: Wild Homes which is a "unique housing association that provides affordable homes for wild Londoners".  Brilliant!  This superbly clever website provides wild home listings on an interactive map, allows Londoners to submit their own available listings and offers informational blog posts from the realty agents on what their wild clients are looking for in a home and/or neighbourhood.  I love the scrolling screen that provides updates on the latest listings such as: "A lovely robust home for a growing parakeet family with this huge polar tree.  Great view of the Thames!"

The website lets readers connect with "foodie birds" that are looking for the best up and coming neighbourhoods or "entry-level" renters such as damselflies looking to share or sublet in a specific neighbourhood. It's an inspiring take that hopefully will help urban dwellers see their wildlife neighbours in a different light.

After all, we're all just trying to find a place to hang our hats and call home!

Bravo Greater London National Park City Initiative!

Read more »

Tuning into Your Personal Connection with Urban Nature

Wild. Here.'s Nature Dose series is intended to offer readers simple ideas on how to easily and quickly connect with nature in your city.  Getting your daily and/or weekly dose of nature (also know as "Vitamin N") can be as simple as 15-20 minutes of "nature exposure" outdoors: in a park, under a tree or by the water.  A dose of nature doesn't require full immersion in a large forest or wild conservation area to be of benefit.  Health benefits from nature are as easy to receive right in our urban centres and the benefits can be reaped in even less time that you can imagine.

Benefits of Being Outside in Nature:
  • Less than a minute to restore attention
  • Six minutes to decrease stress levels
  • Twelve minutes can increase your co-operation
  • Fifteen minutes to lower depression
  • Twenty minutes outdoors will energize you as much as a cup of coffee
(See full list from Wild. Here.: Why Nature is Good For Us)

Getting our "nature dose" is made easier when we know what inspires us about nature and what pulls us outside.  The more we connect with these simple pleasures, the easier it becomes to make time for these nature pauses and breaks.  Nature offers different things to different people and even when you are out in the fresh air in the same spot as others, you may be appreciating different aspects of the same immersion in nature.

If you don't know what specific facets of urban nature you value, start asking yourself questions when you find yourself outdoors.

- What's your favourite part about being in nature?

- What do you notice or look for when you are outdoors?
- Which senses enrich your green space experience the most?

- What objects offer the strongest connections and/or are you curious about?

Is it flora, fauna, stunning vistas, water features, inanimate objects such as rocks. etc.?
- What is the best part for you about being outside? 
- What is pulling you to stay out for just a little longer?

But don't look for quick answers, allow yourself to mull over them and just notice where your attention goes.  The answers don't even need to come that day.

To slow things down, take some deep breaths, focus on each sense - what are you seeing, what are you hearing, what are you smelling, etc.

Let nature sink in and see what that connection means to you!

Enjoy your Nature Dose for today and stay tuned for more Nature Dose ideas!

All photos by Viliam Glazduri (InstagramFlickr500 px)

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Winter Walking Nature Paths in the City

The long winter months can really augment a restricted house-bound feeling.

Even with the commute to work and/or change of scenery for lunch breaks, we can still find ourselves continuously in small, oppressive rooms that look out onto grey parking lots, grey buildings and grey skies.  This contrasts drastically to the open vast reaches of being outdoors that can nourish our spirits.

The good news is that there are more opportunities to get outdoors in urban landscapes than many of us may realize.  Even without equipment (read: snowshoes, x-c skis), paths abound in parks, along nature corridors and in urban conservation areas. And those in the know about these paths are the local dog-walkers!

When I started exploring the wilder corners of urban areas, I would bring snowshoes, thinking I'd need to break my own path, but the more I explored, the more obvious it became that paths were being made all over the city by daily dog walkers, offering well-trodden winter desire lines.

desire line (dəˈzī(ə)r līn) - a planning term referring to a path made by walkers or cyclists (worn down by repeated traffic through foliage, grass - generally used as a shortcut (link)) as opposed to one that is officially planned (link)

There were paths broken through the snow following familiar recreational pathways, others around the periphery of large urban parks (creating great walking loops) and many more through wilder green spaces, carving informal routes through natural areas not officially "sanctioned" (or maintained) by the municipality.

We've found many of these unsanctioned desire paths (both in the summer (as dirt paths) and winter) veering off of formal walking paths along creek sides and shores of rivers and depending on their elevation and orientation these paths can offer lovely vistas of both citylines and nature views.  Some even include great front row "seats" to beautiful sunsets and busy river activity.

Consider this option, the next time there is a pleasant winter weather day and visit the closest natural area in your neighbourhood.

Or ask friends who have a pet dog, where their favorite walking location is - find out where they typically go.

Even in winter, the city offers many informal recreational opportunities in nature!

What's been your greatest discovery when exploring these desire paths into natural areas that are found within the city?

Read more »

Three Places to Get Up Close To Wildlife in Ottawa

It's winter.  For some, this is the hardest time of year.  The days are short, the darkness feels endless and the shoveling can be constant (especially this year!).  And nature may seem like it's receded from view and curled up fast asleep, like you'd like to do!  For the entire season.  Right?

But hibernation is not an option, sadly for us, so for many winter is to be "endured" with a capital "E".  The chilling weather and the stillness and starkness of the land may seem endless but there ARE some creatures that can be found even in this harsh season.  And the animation of movement and colour and possibly even some up close connection can make the days seem just a little bit less grey!

Here are three options during the winter in Ottawa to see wildlife:

1. Visit some Friendly Chickadees (and possibly nuthatches and more!).

You knew this one was top of the list, right?  Ottawa has some very friendly chickadees and an excursion out to visit them can be a mood booster for these cold winter days.  There are some popular sites where people have identified spots to feed chickadees but I'm finding even at other sites, these birds are very comfortable around city dwellers and are not shy about checking us out.  Bring a bit of bird seed (small black oil sunflower seeds are a favourite) and check out some of these spots:

- Mer Bleue (Ridge Road) has feeding stations near the parking lot and closer to the boardwalk.
- Sarsparilla Trail (Old Richmond Road near Hunt Club) is a short 1 km accessible trail to boardwalk overlooking a beaver pond in Stony Swamp.
- Mud Lake (Cassels Street) in the Britannia Conservation Area.  There are bird feeders here just off on the west side of the lake.
- I have also heard that Hogsback Falls has friendly chickadees - this should be a great spot as it's flanked on both sides by urban wood lots.

I've also found that along many trails or small urban wood lots, you can find bird feeders and friendly birds.  Pick an area that doesn't have alot of dog walkers though as this kind of activity might keep birds away.  See what you can find on on your next walk, snowshoe or urban ski!

You may even have a visit from a curious nuthatch (Sittidae)!

Wild Bird Care Centre (spot the wild turkeys feeding at the front!)

2. Drop by the Wild Bird Care Centre (734 Moodie Drive)

The Wild Bird Care Centre takes care of raptors, sea birds, passerines and others, many who have missed their migration windows and have to be overwintered.  Just last month, in Decemeber the flock they were caring for included a Least Bittern, Horned Lark and a Common Nighthawk, among many others. You can also say hi to their resident mascot, a domestic duck named Coco and you may even spot some wild turkeys near the Centre as the birds treat themselves to the seed that falls from the bird feeders.

The Centre offer tours in the fall/winter (September through April) and visiting hours are daily (except Wednesday) from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm.  But call before you visit to double check as there may be changes: 613-828-2849. And definitely consider offering a donation - this is a great organization to support!

3. Say Hi to some Chatty Red Squirrels

Spotting red squirrels (also known as pine squirrels in some regions) is one of my favourite things in the winter.  Perhaps it doesn't feel particularly special, as squirrels can be quite common, but the antics and acrobats and fiestyness of this smaller species animates winter like no other.  They are very vocal and quite territorial, chasing off squirrels twice their size.  Your best bet is to find wood lots or green spaces with a high number of conifer trees (especially pine!) but they can also be found in mixed woods as these furry ones are very adaptable and opportunistic.  Get to know the chatter of the red squirrel and soon enough you'll be surprised with all the locations that you can find these neighbourly creatures.  Some possible locations: along the parkways, behind Parliament Hill, in Hampton Park (off Island Park Drive) and the Arboretum.  (This map shows where the pine trees are in the Dominion Arboretum.)

And yes, it's for the most part, squirrels that you will be spotting during winter and NOT chipmunks.  Chipmunks don't venture out of their burrows in the winter.  While they don't sleep through the full winter in hibernation, they rouse only to eat from their food stores underground and then go right back to snoozing.

You won't see these guys (fat cheeked chipmunks) during the winter!


Other Winter Wildlife

What other winter wildlife have you seen?  Are there some favourite spots that you go to for outdoor excursions?  In terms of more common local wildlife, we've been lucky enough to spot a hare and a mink on different past excursions, even with their winter coats (catching the movement out of the corner of your eye) and our first sighting this year was of an owl along Green's Creek.  So brilliant!!  And there are of course many other birds found around the city that overwinter or visit during the colder months such as the Great Greys and Snowy Owls, which make a stir in both local naturalist circles and also the general public.

I've heard of some popular spots for deer, but keep in mind that feeding deer in winter can have its controversies.  Spotting other mammals doesn't happen very frequently but in winter it can be interesting to find evidence such as tracks and other evidence and possibly get some insight into the animal's intention and focus.

Please share what your favourite urban winter sighting has been!

Photo Credits (2, 3, 4 & 5): Viliam Glazduri (InstagramFlickr500 pxContributor to Wild. Here.

Get Ready for Much More Activity.... in April!

Yes, I said it.  April... I know, I know... we should focus on the here and now.  My apologies.  Let's just get through winter right?  But it's not as far off as you think!  And I wanted to highlight it now, just so that you'd be ready for this special month.  As winter mellows out and thaws and spring finally returns, there are a lot of animals on the move:

migrant owls and raptors are moving north through the area and can be spotted (if you are very lucky) in woodstands and green spaces.  Migrations for these birds can start earlier in the winter but peak around March/April.

- you can find amphibians moving to ponds and larger vernal pools as they migrate at night after the first mild spring rain.

- many mammals are venturing out of lodges, dens and shelters and looking to mate.  Don't forget to do some of your urban wildlife explorations around sunset - dusk!

And if you are on the outskirts of the city, be on the look out for raven nesting sites.  They breed in late winter and raven fledglings leave the nest in mid to late April.  (I was fascinated to hear about this when we were out for a class trip in a pine plantation in February and our teacher was telling us that the ravens were building (or returning to) their nests to mate at that time.  Brrrrr!!  Seems like  the Common Raven (Corvus Corax) are a very hardy breed of Canadian wildlife!)

Stay tuned this spring as I have a list of six other opportunities to get up close to wildlife in the warmer months.

For now, Happy Winter Urban Exploring!

Read more »

Ottawa Winter Cross Country: Skiing in the Heart of the City

Ottawa is a great place for winter activities: Skiing, skating, snowshoeing, tobogganing, hikes, ice fishing.  I find as long as the temperature keeps just below zero and does not dip too far into the negative numbers, the outdoors can be braved with layers and warm accesories.  New snow can create great scenery (while not always fun to shovel!) and we Canadians know that if there's a bright blue sky and brilliant sun, it's probably a double digit day (in the negatives!) - Brrrrrr!!!

While many get in the car to drive out to wilder spaces outside the city like Gatineau Hills, Ottawa offers some great locations right here - both groomed and ungroomed (for those of you who like to break your own trail!).  Many bike paths are used for winter trails by a variety of people.  Here are some great (free) options nearby:

1. Along the Ottawa / Outaouais River N.C.C. pathways

A popular spot for urban x-c skiers (and other active winter folk).  The bike paths offer long uninterrupted paths, which provides beautiful scenery.  In some areas the trail is up near the parkway and at other points it's closer to the water.  If you are not the first one out after a snowfall, there's a pretty high chance you'll find that some brave, intrepid skier has broken a trail already.  Just be warned that along the water it can be windy!

Ottawa River Sunset Photo: Viliam Glazduri (Instagram, Flickr, 500 px) Contributor to Wild. Here.

- Ottawa River Parkway (there are bike paths that can be used as ski trails from Lincoln Fields (and Britannia Park) all the way down to Portage Bridge - SJAM Winter Trail is part of this - see #2 below)
- Rockcliffe Parkway (a nice stretch here is east from the New Edinburgh Boathouse (at Hillsdale) out to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum along the parkway)
- Outaouais River -Voyageurs Pathway on the Gatineau side* (this trail starts at Boulevard Alexandre-Taché (at Rue Montcalme) in Parc des Portageurs and goes behind UQO and then along the shores of Val Tetreau all the way to Champlain Bridge and beyond)

*this urban section of the Voyageur Pathway offers a great restaurant to visit before or after your ski - EDGAR!

2. Sir John A MacDonald Winter Trail

This community-led initiative has created an amazing winter facility of 16 kilometers of groomed trails right in the heart of Westborough.  The Sir John A MacDonald Winter Trail will have its first full winter this year.  Get the latest news on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (#sjamwintertrail).

This SJAM map (follow link), that is found on the Westboro Beach website, shows a couple of parking options (on River Street, at the War Museum, Champlain Park and at Westboro Beach) and transit stops also (at Bayview and Dominion stations) if you don't live in the neighborhood.

Don't forget that this trail links up to both the War Museum Café (open to 7 pm on Thursdays) and Mill Street Brew Pub (although you do need to cross Eddy Street)!

3. "Centre de plein air" Lac Leamy Park

You can rent cross-country skis here and choose from a variety of trails (both beginner and intermediate) ranging from a 2.5 km loop around the lake to over 7 kms along the Gatineau River and then connecting to the Relais Plein Air Club Skinouk (397 Boulevard de la Cité-des-Jeunes).  The Centre offers free two hour parking, a rest area to warm up and vending machines.  They also rent walking sticks and snowshoes.  Be advised - dogs on leash are also welcome to this park and there may be alot of foot traffic especially around the short lake loop.  Best for skiing after a new snowfall.  Contact the Centre directly to confirm details and hours:
Phone: 819-595-8132
Link to Centre de Plain Air Lac Leamy webpage

4. The Dominion Arboretum

Yes there are lots of dog walkers (and some tobogganers) here but if you get out right after a fresh snow, you'll be able to enjoy breaking your own trail underneath century old trees!  There are *35 hectares (*from Friend of Farm website) to explore in the Arboretum and that doesn't even include the farm lands of the Central Experimental Farm (which might be windy) and Fletcher Wildlife Gardens.  Parking at the Arboretum is free but limited.  The other option is to use the pay parking lot at the south end of the farm (across from Fletcher Wildlife Gardens) and walk across Prince of Wales Drive.

Website Links: Friends of the Farm website  + Map of the Nut Trees of the Arboretum (which shows where parking is).

View from Arboretum

Another very popular location is the Mooney's Bay Ski Centre at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility which is off of Riverside Drive.  Admission is only $3 and they offer 5 km of groomed trails which are also lit for night-skiing.  It's not officially on this list as there is a cost but you can go to the Ottawa Public Library and take out a City of Ottawa ski pass to use for the week.  More details on other opportunities to ski in the city to come!

Cross Country Ski Trail Conditions

Ottawa is fortunate to have a passionate skiing community and the Ottawa Cross-Country Ski Website provides reports on x-c skiing conditions both in town and outside the city.  So if you are going to Mooney's Bay, somewhere in the Greenbelt or the SJAM you can check online first to see what the conditions are like!

Check back for other Winter Activity posts that may possibly help nudge you out of doors!

Wild. Here. Urban Cross-Country Skiing Series 2017

PART ONE - Four Places to Cross-Country Ski in the City
PART TWO - Cross-Country Ski Basics and Local Rental Locations
PART THREE - How to Find Other Cross-Country Skiers
Read more »