Figuring out how a place got its name can lead to interesting discoveries. Like the neighbourhood of Beacon Hill. There once was a lighthouse in the middle of the Ottawa River, located a few kilometers down river from the Chaudière Falls. The warning beacon it sent to boaters was visible from a hill south of the river, thus the name, Beacon Hill. Here’s a 20 km loop that goes along the river’s edge to where you can see the remaining foundation of the lighthouse, then veers inland and up the hill before heading back into town. UPDATE – Summer 2017: As a result of of the catastrophic flooding this Spring the path below Parliament Hill along the water’s edge is closed until next Spring. The orange line on the map is a detour.
If you go early there’s a good chance you’ll catch some rowers out on the river behind Parliament Hill.
To get across the Rideau Canal, push your bike over one of the two lower locks. I prefer crossing over the second as the wooden walkway is slightly wider than the one closest to the river.
Head up the lane on the other side of the canal, then over to Sussex Drive. Follow Sussex all the way to the roundabout just beyond the entrance to the Governor General’s residence. Get on the bike path on the opposite side of the roundabout and follow it all the way up to where it joins the Rockliffe parkway overlooking the river. I was very pleased to discover they have completed the bike path extension down to where it continues along the waters edge.
There are a few path links down to the crushed gravel bike path along the shore. My favorite is the first link just left of the entrance to the rowing club boathouse because it affords you great views of the old boathouse, like this.
Follow the packed gravel pathway for a nice long stretch.
To catch a glimpse of what’s left of the lighthouse, continue along the shore for a bit beyond the directional sign that points off to Ogilvie Road, and you’ll see the remaining foundation through the gap between the two islands. You can’t miss it. Near the bottom of this link there’s a photo of what the lighthouse looked like still intact.
Retrace your route along the gravel path as far as the Ogilvie road turn off. Cross the Rockcliffe Parkway and follow Ogilvie Road as far as Laverendrye Drive. Turn right onto Laverendrye, which will take you to the base of Ski Hill Park. My sister taught skiing there, so the name is true to form. Now it’s a popular toboggan hill. Follow the paved path up the hill to Naskapi Drive, like so.
There’s quite an eclectic mix of architectural styles to take in as you wind your way down the other side down to Montreal Road, like this hacienda at the intersection of Rothwell Drive and Cedar Road.
Continue weaving your way down to Montreal Road, then follow it as far as the Aviation Parkway. There is a bike lane that starts just east of Burma Road. Once arrived at the Aviation Parkway, get on bike path at the north west corner of the intersection. Follow it as far as Hemlock Road. Turn west onto Hemlock Road, which will take you to St Laurent Boulevard. Head south for a bit along St Laurent to the back entrance of Beechwood Cemetery. Don’t bother trying to navigate a direct route from one end of the cemetery to the other, just wind your way westwardly and you’ll eventually make it to the other side.
Follow Beechwood to the path that runs along the eastern shore of the Rideau River. The section of Beechwood between MacKay and the river is pretty narrow and can be tight with traffic, so you might want to walk your bike along the sidewalk for this block. Get on the Rideau River Pathway and follow it as far as the Montreal Road bridge which has a bike lane heading west over the bridge. Turn down Charlotte, which curves west and becomes Laurier, which you can follow all the way back downtown.