Winter Bucket List Additions... finding your zen below zero

Winter evergreen Wild Here

Now that winter is on it's way, this is an opportunity to review the recommendations on the 2017 Urban Nature Lover Bucket List.  I know I had come up short for this season when I was putting it together last spring and I'm excited now to be able to offer some other ideas for the colder months!

Just as a reminder the ones that were listed included:
- Vanier Sugar Bush is the only urban sugar bush in North America and a short distance from downtown. While the map sap runs at the tail end of the winter, it's still a lovely place to explore and go for a walk on a sunny day! 
- Ottawa's Winter Crow Roost can be found in patches of woodlot both north and south of the Ottawa Hospital on Smythe Road (Balena, Coronation, Pleasant Park, Valour).  They've been moving around lately though so you may even spot the crows around sunset downtown
- Central Experimental Farm - Tropical Greenhouse - while not native plants, this lush greenery is a great way to boost the mood during winter season.  And the Arboretum itself is a great place to go snowshoeing, skiing, tobogganing and walking the dog.
Urban Nature Lovers Winter Bucket List Wild. Here.
-- Vanier Maple Bush --

The full Ottawa Urban Nature Lovers Bucket List can be found HERE - including some suggestions for "year-round" outings.

So here are some additions for the WINTER Ottawa Urban Nature Lovers Bucket List:
- Take some Winter Sunset Photos - Ottawa is known as the "Sunset Capital of Canada" and with winter sunsets at a very early time (4:30 pm right now!), it's not hard to get out on the weekend for some impressive colours!  You want a day that's not extremely cloudy, but keep in mind a few clouds that can reflect colours can add to a sunset's glow.  There are some great sunset viewing spots listed in this Ottawa Sunset Post including Carlington Hill and along the Ottawa River.  A favourite Ottawa Instagram spot is Westboro Beach - photographed for 1000 days and counting by Nancy.  (I'm also wondering about the spot on Riverside by Edward Drake as it has a great cityscape with trees!) 
Ottawa Ontario Winter Sunset Ottawa River Viliam Glazduri
-- Ottawa Winter Sunset - Photo by Viliam Glazduri --
SJAM Cross Country Ski Trail (and Snowshoeing!) - Ottawa is incredibly lucky to have this urban ski trail in the west end of the city.  (I don't know how I forgot about it when making the list last spring.)  This is definitely a must do outing and even if you don't have skis, you can check it out or go snowshoeing on it!  (All details about this trail can be found in this X-C Ski Post.) 
 - Enjoy a walk around the Pond and McKay Lake - while the Pond is a popular summer location for swimming, this area, which is such a hidden gem in the city, gets completely overlooked in the winter months.  Here you will find active winter birds & mammals (esp red squirrels!) and great scenery -  and now with the new bus routes to WaterRidge Village (Ottawa) you can take various buses here.  Part of the McKay Lake trail is officially the Caldwell-Carver Conservation area but another part of this 3/4 loop includes a great overlook of the lake from high up. 
There are three access points: from Hillsdale Road, Pond Street and off Old Prospect Road (for the scenic overlook).  Please note - the path indicated on Google Maps is incorrect - it goes north around the Pond, rather than south.  The south area is private property.  But there is one path from Bittern Court that does take you along the west side of the Pond not indicated on any map. 
Winter Pond and MacKay Lake Ottawa Urban Nature
-- The Pond in Winter (Rockcliffe) --
- Get out for a Full Moon Snowshoe or Hike or X-C Ski or Walk - a full moon outing is not something you think about all the time in the city, as our lives can carry on even when the sun sets.  Street lights and lights from buildings and landscaping, give us this extra evening illumination even when the moon's not there to light the path.   I wrote about my first full moon adventure as a cross-country skier and that extra shimmer and shine that you get from the moon reflecting off snow is something that can make winter outings magical.  There's four more full moons before April 1st - don't miss your chance! (Last winter I went around Lac Leamy with friends and ending the night at Saint-Eloi CafĂ© Bistro made it the perfect winter outing!)
- Find some Winter Birds - I've talked a little bit about finding wildlife in the winter: including chickadees and wild turkeys (at the Wild Bird Centre) and also about the commuting crows and their roosts but there is so much more to look for if birds are a new passion for you.  Go for walks where there is open water or through wooded areas where there are berry shrubs, see if you can be out around dawn or dusk and visit nearby bird feeders in natural areas.  Our feathered friends are out there!  (Ottawa locations for Winter Birds: Part 1 & Part 2)
Winter Bird Feeder Ottawa Wild. Here. Viliam Glazduri
-- Winter Bird Feeder - Photo by Viliam Glazduri --
- Enjoy the winter skies with Ottawa Popscope - This group usually sets up shop with its telescopes for public viewings in November (at the National Gallery of Canada) and then they host a monthly event until the spring.  Also see what the newly renovated Ottawa Science and Tech Museum has to offer as they used to do Night Sky Observation nights!  (And if astronomy is of interest - check out these Astronomy Resources online!)

And don't forget that if you haven't checked out these urban nature beauties - they are worth a visit at any time but in the winter they can be magical:
- Balancing Rocks at Remic Rapids 
- Ottawa's Urban Conifer Plantations 
- Princess Louise Falls in Orleans
For more details - the three above can be found on the main Ottawa Urban Nature Bucket List as an "Any Season" outing - providing information on where they are located in the city and how to get there.

More details for Ottawa readers: Ottawa Winter Bird Locations & Winter Water Fowl in the City

Where are your go to places in Ottawa during the cold weather months?

and/or what do you look forward to in your own city when the weather turns cold and everything is covered in white?

Ottawa Urban Wild Bird Chickadee Wild. Here. Viliam Glazduri Photographer
-- Chickadee Portrait - Photo by Viliam Glazduri --

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