Biking to ski the Ottawa River Pathway

The Ottawa River Pathway is a classic Ottawa underused gem in the winter.  It’s possible to ski and snowshoe in downtown Ottawa and it’s much closer than driving to Gatineau Park.  Not many people take advantage of this (other than the runners).

View Parliament Ski Route in a larger map

If I were a downtown hotel, I’d think having a supply of snowshoes for guests to borrow would be really fun.  Especially if you’re looking for a quick and easy outing and not a full day Gatineau adventure.  The River pathway is fairly quiet, save for the hum of the heating plant behind the Supreme Court.  The brisk wind coming off the water can be chilly though.


The river is a bit of a trek from our house.  I debated whether the Arboretum would be a better outing (it’s a good option and you can read about biking there over at Ottawa VeloOutaouais).  If I could figure out a way to put the skis on the bike, the trek to the river would be quick and easy.

I rigged up the skis to the MinUte with some bungee cords.  It worked well for a first attempt, although laying the skis flat required a wide leg stance when pedaling.  Next time, I’ll try to figure out a solution to have them lay flat against the frame.


I nodded to a couple of guys starting out on a fat bike ride passing by Queen Street.  I used Bay to reach the Library which was passable with studded tires.  I rode in the tire track gap left by cars.

The trickiest part of the outing was finding a place to lock the bike up.  I knew that I wanted to start my ski around the National Library building where there’s a ramp to get to the river just before the Portage Bridge.  I scanned the entrance of the Library and found the bike racks tucked in a snowbank.  Whatever, it would do.

At least they still had their bike racks out.


The return trip from the Portage Bridge to the locks is just under 5km.  Next time I’d ski west towards Parkdale, stop for lunch and ski back downtown.  But parental duties called and groceries needed to be purchased, so a longer ski was not in the cards for this outing.


Making tracks downtown was a good way to spend a Sunday morning.

I took the Laurier Bike Lane home, but it was in poor shape west of Lyon.  Not to mention the “bike route” along Cambridge was impassable.  I glanced at Bronson as I rode by – the lanes perfectly clear down to the pavement making it to ride on – but I continued towards the “bike route”.  Sigh.  I was glad to get home to pot of hot coffee.

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Comments: 6

  1. Those are amazing photos of Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court taken from the ground. A guy biked by me today with his attached in a similar arrangement but both skis on one side back to back.

    • Lana says:

      I’m going to work on some options putting the skis together. I think if I buy one of those flat bungee cords that it will hold everything securely.

  2. Roz says:

    Your photos inspired me to go on a New Years Day ski behind Parliament with my oldest (I think I actually mean longest) friend. Thanks!

    • Lana says:

      That’s great! I hope you enjoyed your ski!