Conquer Ottawa with your electric bike!
Oh Ottawa! This city might seem quite quiet at first sight, but it sure hides its secrets and charms well, and by exploring it on a human scale, you can better discover it.
Ottawa is built along the edge of the Ottawa River, which marks the natural border between Ontario and Quebec.
It is a long road if you want to conquer Ottawa by bike. What could be better than using an electrically assisted bicycle to save your energy and enjoy the road?
Here we recommend a series of different trails and routes to help you discover the capital.
To visit Ottawa effectively, you must know the NCC (National Capital Commission). It is roughly the equivalent of Parks Canada, but it only manages the natural attractions available in the Ottawa/Gatineau region such as Gatineau Park, scenic bike paths, the greenbelt, etc.
With our suggestions, we will try as much as possible to recommend trails and paths that are family-friendly. Note that some routes recommended here may be difficult as you will have to share the road with cars.
Here are our favourite 7 routes to explore downtown Ottawa and its surroundings.
1. The scenic path
When you first arrive in Ottawa via Highway 417, signage will direct you to come experience Ottawa’s Scenic Byway. This is our first suggestion for discovering Ottawa by electric bike.
Departure is at the Canada Aviation Museum on Aviation Pkwy, east of downtown. Interestingly, if you continue west, you will eventually come to Orleans along the river. This time, we will focus on the west part of the region.
Directly off the boardwalk there is an NCC bike path. Follow it and enjoy panoramic views of the Ottawa River. Just to make a comparison, coming to Ottawa without admiring the river is a bit like going to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower.
Along the way, the bike path will gradually climb to the top of the cliffs. You will then have a panoramic view of both the Parliament, Gatineau Park in the distance and the river. In particular, you will pass close to a district called Rockcliffe, where there are embassies from several countries.
Eventually the trail will bring you to Rideau Hall on your left, which is the residence of the Governor General of Canada. On your right, there will be 24 Sussex which is the official residence of the Canadian Prime Minister and right next to it, the French Embassy.
By following Sussex drive, you will eventually arrive in the heart of downtown Ottawa and you will have access to the ByWard Market to conclude your trip.
2. Via the Canal to Dows Lake by bike
The next trip on our list starts at the famous Château Laurier which is a luxury hotel ideally located between the Parliament and the ByWard Market. From Château Laurier, you can also see the start of the Rideau Canal.
It is good to know that the Rideau Canal exists, among other things, to have faster access to the Great Lakes from Ottawa by boat.
Indeed, without the Rideau Canal, navigators in Ottawa would have to go down to Lac des Deux Montagnes (near the island of Montreal) and then go up the St. Lawrence River towards Toronto. Now, thanks to the canal, it is possible to navigate to Kingston, thus avoiding a long detour.
Moreover, the Rideau Canal is known to turn into the longest outdoor skating rink in the world during the winter, totalling approximately 8 km in length (so 16 km in total). The canal is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Did you know?
The NCC has thought very carefully about its routes, because there is a track on each side of the canal. This makes exploration very easy for all cyclists out to conquer Ottawa. So, starting at the Château Laurier, you will have the opportunity to visit a good part of the city center by simply riding along the Rideau Canal.
Along the way, you will see places such as the National Arts Centre, Ottawa City Hall, Lansdowne Park and TD Place (Ottawa Redblacks, home of the American football team).
Your 7-8 km ride will end at Dows Lake. Take advantage of the place to appreciate a mixture of urban life with the natural essence of the lake.
3. Prescott Russels trail by electric bike
Notice to adventurers, this trip is for you! It is possible to go from Montreal to Ottawa by bike only. Some reckless people will even say that it is possible to do it in a single day…
You can for sure do the trip in two or three days. Since the crossing between the island of Montreal and Vaudreuil-Dorion via Highway 20 is dangerous, we recommend that you pass via Laval and take the La Vagabonde cycle route, which goes to Oka. Then, you can take the ferry to Hudson and go to Rigaud where you’d spend your first night on the road.
Starting the next day, you will have to go to Saint-Eugène in Ontario. It is from this small village that the Prescott Russell Trail begins. This one goes in a straight line to Ottawa through the fields.
The Prescott Russell Trail is an old railway line which was later replaced with this route, which is ideal for e-biking. Since trains cannot climb hills, the tracks are always levelled so that the track doesn’t exceed two to three degrees in elevation.
This creates an ideal path for cycling since it’s essentially a direct line that crosses Eastern Ontario, far from automobile traffic. The Prescott Russell Trail ends at the entrance to Ottawa to the east, near Innes Road, which is located at the entrance to Highway 417 from Montreal.
Warning: this is quite a difficult path. The towns and villages are far from the track, and you have to be ready to bring your lunch and your water to make this trip. Nevertheless, the trip is worth the detour since it will make you discover all of Eastern Ontario and the vastness of the territory just before arriving in the Ottawa region.
4. The different paths of the Greenbelt
The Greenbelt is a green space in the middle of Ottawa that bypasses the city at its ends. Cyclists can explore a variety of places near the city center. To be perfectly honest, it would be possible to talk for a very long time about all the possibilities that there are on the “Greenbelt”. In addition, the majority of trails are multifunctional and suitable for all four seasons. Here is a shortlist:
- Mooney’s Bay
- Dominion Arboretum
- Prince of Wales Falls
- Hog’s Back Park
- Tourbière-Mer-Bleue Trail
- Brambles Trail
- Gray Pine Trail
- Stony Swamp Trail
- Shirleys Bay Trail
- Pinhey Forest
5. The Chaudières rapids by bike
Another favorite route for Ottawans is to follow the bike path along the river to Bate Island. The departure point is usually close to Parliament and the Rideau Canal. This is a very friendly short trip with nice stops along the way, making this trip ideal for a family morning.
Bate Island is located halfway down the river between Ontario and Quebec. The island is a landscaped natural place with a park, dining tables, river vistas, and more. This is the best place to admire the water of the Chaudière rapids that go all the way to downtown Ottawa.
Since this trip is about 6 km long, the round trip is quite fast. In addition, it is possible to continue the journey towards Westboro Beach and possibly to Bayshore.
6. Confederation Boulevard
For lovers of Canadian history, the NCC offers a route called Confederation Boulevard. This is a 7.5 km loop that starts on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
It is possible to do this route by bike, following the urban cycle paths on both sides of the river. On your way, you will see in particular:
- Parliament, Parliament Hill and Confederation Buildings;
- Rideau Hall;
- The Chateau Laurier;
- The Supreme Court of Canada;
- Museums, heritage sites, embassies, etc.
We invite you to pay particular attention to the downtown’s industrial past. Once upon a time, Ottawa/Gatineau was the heart of log driving country. During your journey, you will also cross the Gatineau side along the back of the downtown paper mills. We recommend ending your trip to the ByWard Market at one of the many restaurants, cafés, and bistros on site.
7. Bank, Somerset, and Preston Streets
We couldn’t make a list of different e-bike routes and routes in Ottawa without mentioning Bank Street, Somerset Street, and Preston Street.
It should be noted that these three streets are very busy with cars. It is therefore not necessarily a route that we would recommend for a young family since it’s a busy sector of the city center.
However, if you’re ready to share the road with cars and want to explore a more urbanized corner of Ottawa, you’ve come to the right place. In addition, we mention this route for the presence of different cafés, grocery stores, bars, and restaurants available in great variety on the three streets.
Bank Street runs through downtown Ottawa and downtown skyscrapers. This is the segment of Ottawa that is the most developed in height since the majority of federal buildings and corporate businesses are found there. Also, Bank Street is perpendicular to Wellington Street, on which Parliament Hill is located.
Somerset Street will be a little further down the way. Ottawa’s Chinatown is located on Somerset Street. If you want to travel to East Asia quickly, you can find something for everyone: Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, etc.
Preston Street runs perpendicular to Somerset Street. These include Ottawa’s Little Italy, and it’s a quieter street than the previous two. Once again there are good restaurants, bars, and cafés. Preston Street eventually goes all the way to Dows Lake and you can join the Rideau Canal to return downtown.
Is Ottawa worth the detour?
Absolutely! You’re spoiled for choice in Ottawa for bike rides, including ebikes of all skill levels. Moreover, remember that the ultimate advantage of Ottawa is to have access to places in nature only a few minutes away from the city, combining the useful with the pleasant!