You'll find different water views at each hike.
If you're looking to escape the city and lose yourself in a magical forest, there are multiple hiking trails near Ottawa that are perfect for forest bathing. Prepare to have some privacy on the hike, because you may have never heard of these underrated trails.
Vickie is a true wanderer that loves to explore new hiking trails and nearby small towns. She writes detailed guides online, while always promoting wellness and mindful conservation, including Leave No Trace. Proceeds from her extensive hiking guide and other outdoorsy merchandise are donated to mental health and conservation efforts.
Gunn Creek Trail (Lanark Community Forest)
"'Gunn creek is a cool one. It's just over two kilometres in a loop, and it brings you through the forest first and then down to Gunn Creek. There's actually a picnic table by the creek, and you could listen to the stream running into the creek area and then more of a marshy area," Vickie explained to Narcity, "I like the forest because it's a mature forest."
She also gave us the tip, "you can only park on the trail side of the road, right near the entrance."
Address: 1378-1672, County Rd. 16, Lanark, ON
"Torbolton forest is up in Constance Bay. There are no directions in it, but a cool thing about this trail is you could park at the Rec Centre and there's lots of wildlife. The last time I was there I came nose to nose with a deer and the deer just like hung around with me."
"They have this cool fitness circuit along the way," Vickie went on, "So they have little pictures of bonhommes [indicating to] do 12 squats here, do 13 lunges here, etc along the way on their trails."
Address: 262 Len Purcell Dr., Woodlawn, ON (Parking at the community centre)
Kennebec Wilderness Trails
"Kennebec Wilderness Trails are right off of highway seven. It is super easy to miss when you're bombing down the highway. It's just on the south side. This one is a cool, super well-marked, diverse trail. It has lots of dips and gains and picnic areas. They have a pond with turtles and a lot of other wildlife in the ponds. They have open meadows, marsh areas, forest areas, creeks. So it really is a diverse landscape in one hike."
Address: 936 Hwy. 7, Central Frontenac, ON
Griffith Uplands Trail
"Griffith Uplands is up to 10-kilometres with multiple vista views along the way. It does require navigation skills." Vickie indicated that this is the only hike on this list of forest hikes that is not well-marked, "You're only going to get cell reception at the lookout points. It's like you need a navigation aid, so whether you're following AllTrails [app] all the way or you have a GPS, you need one. Many people get turned around."
Address: 858 Hyland Creek Rd., Greater Madawaska, ON
MacNamara Nature Trail
"This is my top-rated winter trail. It is especially magical after a big snowfall," Vickie continued, "They have bird feeding stations, so there are lots of birds in there. They do have different lookout points and a lime kiln, and in the summer there are orchids, but that's not applicable to winter. It does go by the [Ottawa] river."
"A good thing to know is that it's private property and there are no dogs allowed, simply because of the ecological efforts."
Address: 284 McNab St., Arnprior, ON
Limerick Forest (North)
"Everyone knows Limerick Forest South, where the reception area is and they have a really cool trail that brings you out to a marsh boardwalk. This portion is accessible," Vickie started, "What people don't know is that Limerick forest is huge, I mean, hectares on hectares."
"The north portion is near Merrickville and that portion is less trafficked. There are two entry points and they both go out to marsh lookouts. They've got some wonderful old-growth trees as well. It's very much not an exploited trail. You could go there for peace and quiet and really cool views."
Address: 167 Scotch Line Rd. & 195 Craig Rd., Merrickville, ON
The Pines Community Forest
The Pines forest trails in Lennox and Addington County is an intricate loop system with quirky trail names like Up & Down and Dipsy Doodle. There are 10-kilometres of trails used for both hiking and biking.
"The Pines is just further than Kennebec in a town called Flinton. You can go [park at] the community centre and then you go for a forest walk through there. It has a lot of red pines and two points of interest with rocks."
Address: 100 John St., Flinton, ON
"Marlborough Forest is within the city of Ottawa. From parking lot E3 there is a three-kilometre loop [Cedar Grove Nature Trail] that you could do around a pond, which makes for really great viewpoints, but you're going in and around the forest as well. It has another parking lot E2, which is fully accessible. The Rideau Trail crosses through there as well."
Address: 3546-3700 Roger Stevens Dr., North Gower, ON
Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.
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