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.


Fresh Air at the Sir John A. MacDonald Winter Trail 
Location (West): In Champlain Bridge Parking Lot (see map below
Fresh Air Website: which includes 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 
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
* 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 in Ottawa and other cities.

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

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