i found myself in Embrun with a bit of time to kill (my son was playing in a hockey tournament and there was a gap between games) so I went and tried the trail. Here’s what it’s like.
The Embrun Arena Is a convenient place to start. There’s room to park should you choose to drive there, and Blais St has a nice wide shoulder you can follow to get the start of the trail. Or you could park just beside the trailhead.
The entire path is paved, rolling past farmland and backyards. At times it runs alongside roads, but never without a good buffer of trees.
There were lots of little foot bridges from back yards to the path, which suggests it’s well used by the locals. I did come across a number of friendly dog walkers, bike riders and joggers.
Street crossings are well marked and felt safe, including the round-about at the intersection of Notre Dame St and St Guillaume Rd.
The trail ends in the town of Russell when it reaches Forced Road. That’s where the paving stops, however there’s a path that continues west along the old trail line. This link claims there are plans to continue the trail to Ottawa, which would be great!
At the end of the trail I turned south down Forced Road. It’s a quiet country road.
I had planned on doing a loop back to Embrun along side roads, even managed to cross the Castor River through Russell, but when I found myself white-knuckle-riding along narrow two lane roads with no shoulders and speeding traffic (not included on the above map) I decided to take the trail back.
I’m glad I did, because near the south end of Forced Road I discovered Sherwood Trail that runs through the J Henry Tweed Conservation Area, that eventually joins up with the New York Central Fitness Trail. Go figure! I’ve marked this section in red on the above map.
Sherwood Trail is a magical meander through a combination of deciduous and coniferous trees.
I rejoined the New York Central Fitness Trail and headed back to Embrun.
The Blue Skies Music Festival near Clarendon, Ontario takes place on the first weekend of August, as it has every year since the early 70’s. It’s a great big gathering where folks come for a day, or camp out over the 3 day long weekend.
This year was the third time I’ve been. Last year I biked to a friend’s cottage close by on Sharbot Lake, then rode up to the site on the following Friday morning. You can read all about that adventure here. This year I did the same, however I chose a different route, identified by the blue line on the map below.
I rode back to Ottawa on the following Monday along the red line shown on the map, similar to the route my friend François rode to get there this year, which you can read about by clicking here.
Last year’s ride took me much longer than I had anticipated, so this year I tried to streamline my route to shorten the time spent in the saddle. To get out of Ottawa I headed straight down Wellington/Richmond/Robertson Road. Now most cyclists familiar with that stretch of road might not consider it the safest option. Few sections of it are safe most hours of the day, however there is a narrow window of opportunity early in the morning before traffic starts to build. I left the house at 5:30 am. Things went smoothly, until Richmond turned in to Robertson Road, just west of Baseline. That’s where any semblance of a paved shoulder disappears and the surprising number of cars, buses & trucks that early in the day flew by at highway speeds. I was very relieved to get on the Trans-Canada Trail west of Moodie Drive.
The Trans-Canada Trail between Bells Corners and Carleton Place is an old railway line that has been converted to a packed stone dust path, as described in a bit more detail in the middle of this post. I’ve travelled it a few times now, so in search of a little variety, and to speed things up, I rode along Abbott Street for a short stretch through Stittsville, which runs parallel to the Trans-Canada Trail. Traffic was calm, and there was a generous shoulder for most of it’s length.
Stittsville went through a growth period in the 1870’s when the railway line connecting Ottawa to Carleton Place was introduced. There are a few surviving examples of buildings from that period near the intersection of Main and Abbott Street where the train station was located, including this fixer upper sandwiched between the Trans-Canada Trail and Abbott St.
The rail-to-trail section of the path ends on the edge of Carleton Place. From there I headed south-east along a path that runs parallel to McNeely Ave to where it crosses Highway 7. At the end of McNeely there is a wonderful network of short trails called the Beckwith Trail, that meanders through a varied mix of wooded area and old farmland. I followed the McGregor Branch and the Shady Branch to get to 9th Line road.
I then headed southwest along 9th Line, a two lane road where I encountered minimal traffic. Saw some beautiful big old brick farm houses. I also road through a thunderstorm. I passed this family of bovines just as the rain let up, staring at me as if to say, ‘What the heck are you doing way out here in this weather?!’
9th Line turned into Tennyson Road which I followed for a bit before turning on to Concession Road 7. It too was a nice quiet paved two laner through farm country. On the other side of the 511 it became a very smooth white stone dust road.
Road 7 morphed into McVeigh road, which I followed to where it ended at Doran Road. Now Doran Road was the trickiest stretch along this year’s ride to Blue Skies. It narrowed down to one lane with a loose stone gravel surfacing that went up and down through the woods for quite a ways.
The road surface became smoother once it turned on to Fagan Lake Road, and then paved once more on the other side of the Elphin-Maberly Road, along Zealand Road.
I am always amazed by the cedar post fences that weave their way through this whole area. The manner in which they are stacked and arranged in a zig-zag pattern allows for great flexibility in negotiating the rough rocky terrain. Here’s an example, perched up on the edge of a stone cut along Zealand Road.
For the rest of the ride I followed Bell Line Road and the A&P trail to my friends cottage on Sharbot Lake, and then up to the festival site the following morning, as described at the tail end of last year’s post.
Et voila – ’twas another wonderful Blue Skies festival full of music galore!
The route I followed to get to the bridge was the same as the one described in this post, as far as Leikin Drive. Mid way along Leikin I turned east and worked my way along paths and residential streets to get to the Chapman Mills Conservation Area which lies just north of the bridge. There’s a pedestrian boardwalk that meanders through the Conservation Area along the edge of the river, with lookouts and interpretive panels that describe the area’s natural environment.
I walked my bike along the boardwalk to the southern edge of the Conservation Area where the path opens up onto this impressive side view of the bridge.
The path circles under the bridge, which affords some great views of it’s ribbed underbelly and massive footings.
This path leads up to the sidewalk along Strandherd Drive which runs alongside the bike lane over the bridge. I decided to video the momentous occasion, so without further ado, here is the Ottawa Velo Outaouais Peddle Powered Crossing of the new Strandherd Bridge!
Once on the other side of the river I cut through a residential area along paths and roads, rode along Spratt then Limebank to Leitrim Road, then along High Road beside the airport. From here on in I followed the same route described in this post.
n.b. Prince of Wales Drive is a busy street which I don’t recommend biking along at anytime other than early mornings on weekends, as described in this post. Hopefully this will be improved upon as soon as possible, because Manotick could be a great bike tourism draw if there was a safer way to get there from downtown along the west shore of the Rideau River.
The Sawmill Creek Pathway extension is completed and it’s fantastic! It now connects to the Brookfield Path at it’s northern end and runs south as far as Hunt Club Road. I’ve hi-lited the pathway in green. The blue line is the route I followed to get to and from Centretown.
Here’s where the Sawmill Creek Pathway begins along the Overbrook Path, just east of the train tracks.
The path ends at Hunt Club. Unfortunately the transition from here to anywhere else is pretty rough.
On a previous occasion I turned east on Hunt Club to get to South Keys mall. To do so I stayed on the sidewalk for a short distance before cutting left through the parking lot just beyond the train bridge.
UPDATE, Summer 2015 – The Airport Parkway Bridge opposite South Key Mall opened in 2014. See this post for more.An access to South Keys Mall has been created via a short pedestrian tunnel under the O-Train tracks a bit south of the pedestrian bridge. Signs are confusing but I checked with OC Transpo – bikes are allowed through the tunnel but walked, not ridden.
On this occasion, I chose to head west along Hunt Club. the transition across the transit way and Aviation Parkway off ramps was rough. Once beyond these spots there is a bike lane, however it doesn’t start for a few hundred yards. All very complex, so I prepared this little video to help explain. The video starts where the Sawmill Creek Pathway ends.
So apart from this nasty little section, the extension of the Sawmill Creek Pathway and the bike lane further along Hunt Club allows for a fine link over to Uplands Drive and areas south of the city.
Alexandre wrote, “Just moved into Gattawa from Montreal and biking routes will be a challenge. For one thing, what’s the best way to safely bike from Gatineau Park to Ottawa? Or to Aylmer?”.
Thanks for asking! Here’s a safe route from the park to Ottawa.
Our adventure begins at the P3 parking lot along the Gatineau Parkway, also referred to as the Gatineau Park Welcome Area. There one can find a big interpretive map panel showing paths that lead into the rest of the park. There is also an interpretive kiosk with helpful information officers. I joined the Gatineau Park Pathway just to the left of these very well designed interpretive panels.
A hundred yards or so further along, the path crosses another path that runs east-west (it used to be Rue Gamelin). I continued south.
The path follows the road for a bit before dipping left through a beautiful wooded area.
It The path continues alongside the road over Boulevard des Allumetières before heading back through the woods.
The path ends at the southernmost tip of the park, at Boulevard Alexandre-Taché. I continued across the intersection down quiet Rue Belleau.
At the end of Belleau there’s a path that turns off to the left.
A bit further on there’s a fork in the road. This is the Voyageurs Pathway. By turning right you’d be heading west, which will take you all the way to Aylmer. It’s a great ride, described in more detail in this post.
I turned left and headed towards Ottawa.
The path eventually meets up with Boulevard Alexandre Taché once again, just beyond some train tracks, and turns right alongside Boulevard Alexandre Taché.
The only spooky bit along this route is at the corner of Boulevard Alexandre-Taché and Rue Eddy. I keep further back and closer to the wall while waiting for the light to change than these fine cyclists ahead of me because I’ve witnessed cars and trucks clip the corner of the sidewalk in their rush to turn onto Eddy and over into Ottawa. I’ve also seen cyclists turn on to Eddy, which I would never have the guts to do as that bridge is very narrow with afore mentioned impatient car & truck drivers. Instead I cross through the intersection and continue along the path on the opposite side.
The path continues east, eventually going under the Portage Bridge before popping out in front of this sculpture by Phyllis Kurtz Fine. Turning left takes you behind the Museum of History and the opportunity to cross over to Ottawa on the Alexandra Bridge. I turned right and made my way along the bike path over the Portage Bridge.
Once on the other side of the bridge there are a myriad of options, depending on your final destination. I went left, just like this guy, and headed west along the Ottawa River Pathway. Et voila!
Beth is seeking safe ways to bike commute from the northern section of Little Italy to the eastern edge of Pointe-Gatineau. I scouted out a route that is almost entirely along bike paths, as identified by the blue line on the map below. Red line is the slight variation I took on the way back. Green line is another route Beth test rode last week that is also almost entirely along bike paths, however the path was flooded in a few areas near the confluence of the Gatineau and Ottawa Rivers forcing her to do a bit of a detour. It’s a great route too, best ridden a little later in the season. UPDATE 2017: (see pink line on following map) There’s a great new bike lane on the east side of the Gatineau that runs between Rue Jacques Cartier and the Ottawa River which joins up with the Route Vert path heading north, then the bike lanes along Montée Paiement. This takes you straight to our final destination. This new section is described in this post.
We begin at the recently renovated Primrose Park, corner of Primrose and Rochester St.
There is a short path at the northwest corner of the park that cuts through to a lane that leads to Preston St.
I turned north on Preston and rode half a block to the lights at Albert, crossed at the lights and rode east along the bike path.
I turned left off the path onto bumpy Commissioner St, which leads to the Ottawa River Pathway which continues under Wellington St.
Once beyond the Wellington St underpass I turned left up along the path over the Portage Bridge. On the other side of the bridge I turned right onto the Voyageurs Pathway and circled under the Portage Bridge and headed east.
I crossed Boulevard Alexandre-Taché at the lights at the corner of Rue Montcalm and joined the Ruisseau-de-la-brasserie Pathway like so.
The path takes a short detour around construction just in front of Théâtre de L’Île. It’s a short detour around the parking and over the canal bridge. Once on the other side of the bridge I turned right onto Rue Taylor which hugs the side of the stream, eventually becoming the Ruisseau-de-la-brasserie Pathway at it’s northern end once again.
The path dips down and under Rue Montcalm and meanders along the ruisseau for quite a spell.
The path eventually goes back over the ruisseau and continues downstream on the other side.
The path continues under Highway 5, however there were these P-gates just before the underpass and a sign warning that it may be flooded.
A cyclist popped out from the other side just as I approached and reassured me that there was only about a couple of inches of water across the path, so I went and took a look, and she was right, so I rode on through.
I turned left over a small wooden bridge a short distance beyond the underpass. This took me towards Lac Leamy.
Before going any further I would like to pause and contemplate this little wooden bridge, which I have come to call The Little Bridge From Hell! You see, the last time I rode over it I crashed, resulting in a meniscal tear in my knee, sidelining me for a good chunk of last Fall. A light drizzle had fallen that morning making the wooden surface very slippery. Heading back over the bridge in the opposite direction, the path suddenly turns to the right. one’s instinct is to start to turn while still on the bridge, as suggested by the tire tracks in the image below. When I did so my tires slipped right out from under me. As I put my right leg out to brace my fall my foot slipped uncontrollably in the opposite direction, bringing all my weight down on my knee. Thus the injury. SO, hard lesson learned, if it’s raining or frosty, go very slowly over this innocent looking little bridge and don’t start to turn until you reach the asphalt on the other side.
OK, on with our tour. The path continues along until it joins the Leamy Lake Pathway. One could normally choose to go either to the left or the right around the lake, however at this time of year the east side of the lake gets very flooded, so I stuck to the left.
A bit further along the path I encountered another minor wet spot, also very manageable. Shoes didn’t even get wet.
Around the other side of the lake, just beyond the parking lot, I turned left onto the Gatineau River Pathway.
The path forks at the edge of the elevated Rapibus transit way. I followed the path to the right under the transit way.
I then followed the path alongside the transit way, up and over the Gatineau River.
Everything becomes a bit of a dogs breakfast once the path reaches Boulevard de la Gappe. The path crosses the train tracks, and continues on the opposite corner through the traffic lights. See big white arrow in photo below.
The path weaves it’s way the entire length of Boulevard de la Gappe to our destination, Boulevard de la Cité.
There’s a swimming pool close by with one of the cleverest bike rack/wall mural combos in the region.
On the way back I decided to avoid riding along the Gatineau River and around Leamy Lake by continuing alongside the Rapidbus transit way to where it ends at Boulevard Montclair. I crossed Montclair at the lights and rode east.
Montclair can be a pretty busy street with fast moving cars, but there is a bike lane that takes you to the path that accesses the Ruisseau de la Brasserie Pathway.
Heading towards Pointe Gatineau along this alternate route would require biking on the sidewalk against traffic as far as the lights across from the start of the bike path beside the transit way, however I’ve rarely seen any pedestrians along this sidewalk. If any are encountered there is plenty of opportunity to see them coming to dismount and walk your bike past them with a great big smile! So there you have it – a few fine ways to bike to Pointe Gatineau!
A number of studies have shown that a large proportion of commuters want to bike to work but hesitate to do so for lack of a safe route to follow. I have an open offer to scope out a safe bike route to anyone within the national capital region. All I need is two cross streets – one to start from and a final destination. Halden took me up on my offer, starting from the intersection of Woodroffe and Iris at the edge of the Kenson Park neighbourhood in the west end, to the intersection of Vanier Parkway and Coventry Road in the Overbrook neighbourhood. He’s already a regular bike commuter but thought it would be interesting to see the route I scope out compared to his. Me too! Here’s what I came up with.
The Blue line is the one I recommend- a very picturesque route almost entirely along bike paths. The red line is a short cut that shaves 15 minutes off but traverses the not-so-safe Bank Street Bridge over the Rideau River. More about that later. The green line shows the route Halden takes. After crossing the locks at Carleton he rides along the canal and cuts over to the Rideau River along Graham Avenue, Lees Avenue, then through the Ottawa U Lees campus. Lees is a pretty busy road so one’s comfort level with riding in traffic would be an important factor in choosing this route.
And away we go! First I headed east on Iris.
The Experimental Farm Pathway crosses Iris. I got on the path and continued eastwardly.
This interesting building is located just south of where the path crosses Maitland. I used to think it was some sort of power station associated with the hydro towers that ran past it. Well it is a power station but of a very different sort. It’s the Trinity United Church designed by the late Ottawa architect James Strutt.
The path winds up and over Carlington Heights, then down through the farm.
Things get a little screwy where the path meets Fisher. To continue along the path on the other side requires riding south along Fisher for a hundred yards or so and crossing at the lights, like so.
The path becomes Cow Lane, and then turns right on Morningside Lane.
Midway down Morningside Lane there is a small road on your left that takes you to an intersection with traffic lights across Prince of Wales Drive. The path continues along the road on the other side of Prince of Wales, and ends by the canal locks across from Carleton U. I pushed my bikes over the top set of locks.
On the other side of the canal I followed the path to the right (blue arrow). The red arrow is the way you’d go for the alternative route on the above map across the Carleton campus and Bronson, through Ottawa South and across the dreaded Bank St Bridge. The green arrow points is the direction Halden takes.
The path pops out at Mooney’s Bay and crosses over the river.
On the other side of the bridge the path dipsy-do’s back under the road.
The scenery is quite spectacular all the way down along the path through Vincent Massey Park.
This path is called the Rideau River Eastern Pathway which I followed almost entirely to our final destination. It is a very pleasant path however there is one dangerous spot, and that’s the intersection of Bank St and the pathway/Riverside Drive. Riverside Drive is a four lane speedway. Cars crossing the Bank St Bridge heading south often try to hurriedly turn right onto Riverside on the red without looking to their right, regardless of the sign. As such they threaten cyclists and pedestrians on the path as they nervously try to rush around the corner, for example this car at the intersection this Sunday that came to a screeching halt well over the stop line.
On the secondary route option suggested by the red line, crossing the bridge is what is proposed. There are sharrows painted on the road, suggesting cyclists share the road. This Muddy Bike post (click here) shows that this is an ineffective option, and I believe a dangerous one as it suggests this is a safe area for cyclists when it is quite the opposite. So, when my son and I biked to Billings Bridge Museum on Sunday we walked our bike on the sidewalk.
So, what to do once you get to the corner? I don’t move until I am sure the driver stopped at the corner sees me and seems aware that I have the right of way to cross.
OK, enough on the dangerous bridge, time to continue down the pathway.
They’ve re-opened the path under the Queensway where they are doing construction, but it’s through scaffolding and only wide enough for one bike so I went pretty slow in case a rider was coming the other way, giving me time to react.
Getting close to our destination, I turned off the path at the sign pointing to River Road.
I turned right off River Road onto Presland, and was pleased as punch to discover a pedestrian cross signal to get across the Vanier Parkway.
I continued along Presland for a jot until I turned right onto Forestlane. Part way down Forestlane there’s a small opening that allows you to pop out almost right at our final destination.
And There it is – the intersection of Vanier Parkway and Coventry Road!
The annual Spring clean up of the Centretown Community Garden Project took place this morning so I rode over to lend a hand. Lot’s of fantastic folks all getting together to clean up the site and yack about what to plant this year.
I then biked over to Théâtre de l’Île with my talented assistant Mika to get some set work finished up. Short jaunts but energizing none-the-less on day 27 of 30 Days of Biking.
The Centretown Community Garden is located at the corner of Lisgar and Lyon St N. To get there I followed the same route as described on Day 1 (seems so long ago) as far as Lyon St. Then it was half a block on Lyon to the garden.
It was a fine day for a ride to the theatre. The sky above the Chaudière dam was impressive when we biked over the Portage Bridge.
I needed to pick something up at the Museum of Science and Technology so I rode there, on Day 26 of 30 Days of Biking. Blue line on the map shows route I followed there. Red line is the one I took to get home.
One thing I like about riding at this time of year is the opportunity to notice details within the landscape less visible once the trees have sprouted leaves. Such as this pavilion, attached to the back of the slowly disappearing Sir John Carling Building presently being torn down. I hope it avoids the wrecking ball. You can take this narrow path up to take a closer look.
I then biked through the Arboretum, crossed the locks across from Carleton U, and rode up the bike path towards Mooneys Bay.
The path gets a little convoluted at Mooneys Bay. You can ride over the falls along the path on the west side of the street, but you won’t see the falls, which are pretty spectacular at this time of year. or you can cross back under the road and ride over the falls the east side, as I did and indicated on the above map, where you will catch great views of the falls. It means carrying your bike up a few steps.
I rode down along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway (no more flooding) then turned up Pleasant Park Road, which around Pleasant Park Woods, isn’t so pleasant. This huge swath of trees has been cut down because of the Emerald Ash borer bug.
I took a short cut through Weston Park to Weston Drive. It’s the one with the colourful works of crochet stretched on the chain link fence.
Weston Street is on the other side of Weston Park, which I followed to Othello St. I rode north along Othello then cut through the Elmvale Acres Shopping mall parking lot to the intersect at Smyth Road and St Laurent Boulevard.
I then rode through the huge park in front of the museum, which brought me up close to a giant old locomotive and the big silver rocket.
Bike parking is located just to the north of the main entrance.
On my way home I turned off Pleasant Park road onto the bike path that goes past the allotment gardens and followed the same route described in this post.
Today I had to bring a bunch of big painting drop cloths to Les Ateliers du Théâtre de l’Ile in Gatineau, so I stuffed them in my panniers and biked there. Now I may have driven there on this rainy day if I hadn’t taken the 30 Days of Biking pledge – a personal promise to pedal every day throughout April.
Good thing I did, because I would have missed an opportunity to pause and contemplate the brooding Edgar-Allen-Poe-ish beauty that hung over the region on this rainy spring day. Take, for example, the mist rising over the majestic Ottawa River, as seen from the Portage Bridge.
Or the big old abandoned carbide mill on Victoria Island.
Vieux Hull has some fine examples of heritage architecture to admire while passing through.