40 km Bike Loop to Aylmer, Almost Entirely Along Pathways

Here’s a good early morning loop to Aylmer and back.

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Every time I see a biker heading over the Pont de la Chaudière I cringe in fear for their safety due to the speeding traffic and limited space. However at 5:30 am it isn’t so bad. It also affords the only view of the Chaudière Falls, an amazing natural formation hidden from all other vantage points by an assortment of crumbling industries.
UPDATE- Summer 2015: The industrial buildings surrounding the falls have been sold to a developer. Plans include providing public access to the site with views onto the Chaudière Falls. See 30 second mark into this promo video.

Chaudière Falls
Chaudière Falls

The Voyageurs Pathway mostly twists and turns along the rivers edge like so, all the way to Aylmer.

Voyageurs Pathway
Voyageurs Pathway

There are a number of clearings along the way where you can pause and ponder the majestic Ottawa River, such as this spot looking out upon the foundations of long abandoned mills.

View out over the Ottawa River
View out over the Ottawa River

This pathway bridge floats above a boggy stretch.

Pathway bridge
Pathway bridge

In the Spring there are a few spots along the path that risk being a bit waterlogged, but they usually can be negotiated along short impromptu desire lines.

The path veers away from the river on the outskirts of Aylmer and continues straight through towards the centre of town.

Heading into Aylmer
Heading into Aylmer

Once in Aylmer I cut north along Front Street to check out these two heritage buildings, the Symmes House and the Parker House, both described on this web site.

Symmes House
Symmes House
Parker House
Parker House

I continued north along Front street to join the Pionneers Pathway. Beyond the two buildings previously mentioned, Front Street is pretty boring, filled with lots of traffic, so after you’ve checked out the two heritage buildings I recommend getting back on the Voyageurs Pathway and continuing around through Parc des Cèdres, as I’ve hi-lited in orange on the above map.

The Pionneer Path follows along the Boulevard des Allumeteries most of the way. It’s more of a commuter route than the Voyageurs Pathway, but still a very pleasant ride.

Pionneers Pathway
Pionneers Pathway

Eventually it veers south through a mixed area of woods and houses and gets a bit confusing as it twists and turns southward. Fear not, it eventually intersects Boulevard des Trembles and its bike path that runs directly east across Boulevard St-Raymond.

Once beyond Boulevard Saint Raymond the path becomes the Moore Farm Estate Pathway. It’s a stone dust path that heads south through this heritage farm. There are a few well preserved old farm buildings on the estate including this fabulous barn.

Old barn
Old barn

Looks like someone has torn off a small piece of barn board to look in.

Side of barn
Side of barn

And this is what they saw.

Inside barn
Inside barn

The Moore Farm Estate Pathway ends at Boulevard Alexandre-Taché, which I qualify as one of the worst roads to bike along in the region, however one need only follow it for a very short distance before cutting through the STO Park-and-Ride parking lot to Boulevard Lucerne. This is a quiet street which brings you to Moussette Park and then on to the Voyageurs Pathway for the ride back in to Ottawa. Rather than crossing back over the Chaudière Bridge, follow the path to and over the Portage Bridge.

Et voila!

Green’s Creek in the East End

Our three big rivers – the Ottawa, Rideau, and Gatineau – get all the attention when it comes to local waterways, however there’s a little creek in the east end full of charm and grace that quietly weaves it’s way north. I was very fortunate to happen upon a short section of it by accident during one of my rides. You can too. Here’s how.

This all happened while on a bike errand to the Home Depot in the east end. I decided to make the most of it and explore a trail noted on Google Maps a bit further east off Innes Road as it heads through the Greenbelt.

Trailhead off Innes Road looking west
Trailhead off Innes Road looking west

While venturing along, I noticed another path turning off to the right. It lead me over this old abandoned train bridge…

Old train bridge over Greens Creek
Old train bridge over Greens Creek

… winding up at the back of this big box store that fronts onto Innes Road…

Back of the big box store
Back of the big box store

…so I turned around.

Crossing back over the train bridge I noticed another unmarked path that continued along the bank of Green’s Creek. Couldn’t resist. Now this is pretty much a foot path, so I recommend either walking/carrying you bike most of the way, or locking your bike to a tree and exploring by foot. You will not be disappointed.

Path along Greens Creek
Path along Greens Creek
Little falls along Greens Creek
Little falls

Along the shore there are many hints that this was not always a predominantly natural environment, as suggested by these remains.

Twisted metal, concrete and brick
Twisted metal, concrete and brick

The path eventually veers away from the creek as it comes upon the Trans-Canada Highway, and ends a bit further along at some train tracks.

Where the path ends
Where the path ends

I turned around and headed back to the marked trail, which takes you between two farmers fields like so.

Trail between fields
Trail between fields

This leads to the wider stone dust Prescott Russell rail-to-trail path that you can follow all the way to Quebec.

Rail-to-Trail
Rail-to-Trail

I headed back along Anderson Road.

Fantastic bike loop through Gatineau!…usually…

This route is one of my favorites through Gatineau because it is entirely along bike paths… most of the time… but not right now. The swollen Ottawa River has flooded sections of the path near and around Lac Leamy. Another section beyond the lake is closed due to construction of rapid transit facilities, forcing one to detour along a road. This section of path will be reopened in the Fall. HOWEVER, it’s still a fine ride, which will become great once the water recedes, and fantastic when they finish building the rapid transit.

Blue line is where I biked. Red lines are the flooded sections of path. Orange line is the section of path blocked off until the Fall.

The tunnel where the Ruisseau-de-la-Brasserie Pathway goes under the Autoroute de la Gatineau is flooded. I rode through and got my feet soaked.

Flooded tunnel under the autoroute
Flooded tunnel under the autoroute

The section of path along the eastern shore of Lac Leamy is flooded as well, but avoidable by biking inland to the parking lot.

Flooded shores of Lac Leamy
Flooded shores of Lac Leamy

The Leamy Creek Pathway weaves it’s way through the woods like so.

Sentier du Ruisseau-Leamy Creek Pathway
Sentier du Ruisseau-Leamy Creek Pathway

Along the Gatineau Park Pathway heading south there are a number of huge impressive boulders like this one gathered at the top of a hill. I’m guessing they were dragged there by a glacier.

Sisyphus' training grounds
Sisyphus’ training grounds

I was worried the Voyageur Pathway along the Ottawa River above the Chaudiere dam would be flooded as well, but it wasn’t, so smooth sailing all the way home.

La Côte d’Azure à la Gatineau

The Côte d’Azure, or French Riviera, is a beautiful hilly region overlooking the Mediterranean sea. There is an area of La Ville de Gatineau with streets named after popular spots along the Côte d’Azure (Rue de Cannes, Rue de Monte Carlo, Rue de Roquebrune, etc). It’s hilly too, and looks out over its own body of water, the Gatineau River. That’s where the similarities end. It’s a fine residential area of Gatineau to bike through. You can do a little bit of switch back climbing while taking in a few interesting house designs.

To get there I biked along Boulevard St Joseph, which isn’t too bad at 6:30 am, but I suggest the much more pleasant route hi-lited in green. Mostly along bike paths, it follows Boulevard de la Carriere for a bit, as a section of the Gatineau River Pathway is closed this summer for rapid transit construction.

Here’s an interesting house I spotted on the Gatineau Riviera.

Try to find the front door...
Try to spot the front door…

I followed this short path at the top of the hill through Parc Saint-Exupéry, named after the author of Le Petit Prince.

Parc Saint-Exupéry
Parc Saint-Exupéry

Here’s another interesting house looking out across to the Gatineau hills.

House along the Gatineau Riviera
House along the Gatineau Riviera

The path along the Ottawa River just west of the Lady Aberdeen Bridge is partially flooded out, but there’s a beaten path you can follow to get around it. The rest is clear sailing.

Spring flooding
Spring flooding

Riding along the Ruisseau-de-la-brasserie Pathway on a David Jackson Sound Cloud

David Jackson is an amazing multi-faceted local musician and one of the founding members of the Northern Sound Electrical System, ‘an open member project whose purpose is to explore the fringes of drone, electronics, noise and sound through guitars, software, percussion, field recordings, and whatever else anyone wants to bring to the show.’ David posted a great recording of one of their performances at Le Temporaire in Gatineau earlier this year. I had the urge to explore the pathway along the Ruisseau-de-la-brasserie located close to Le Temporaire, while listening to the recorded session, so as the sun came up I set my iPhone SoundCloud app to David C Jackson, North Sound Electrical System Live at Le Temporaire, and headed off. It was incredible. UPDATE Summer 2018: It is now illegal to wear headphones while biking in Québec.

Here’s the route, and some photos taken along the way.

Rue Montcalm bridge
Rue Montcalm bridge

The path dips under a number of major bridges with lots of commuter traffic, the sounds of which lend themselves well to the recording.

Under Autoroute de la Gatineau
Under Autoroute de la Gatineau

The path splits just beyond Autoroute de la Gatineau. Left continues along the Ruisseau de la Brasserie Pathway towards Leamy Lake, but it’s worth continuing along the right hand path for a bit, at least as far as the bridges that connect the two autoroutes. Here’s some of what what you’ll see.

Under the autoroute connectors
Under the autoroute connectors

There are two great interpretive exhibits on the shores of Leamy Lake that delve into the history of the area. Conflict of interest warning – Carla designed them.

Leamy Lake interpretive display
Leamy Lake interpretive display

If the breeze is up you can feel the coolness of the melting ice off the lake, as was the case at this spot along the shore.

Leamy Lake
Leamy Lake

Rich Little Drive

Rich Little is an Ottawa born impersonator who made it big on American TV in the 60’s and 70’s. He now lives in Vegas where he has been performing in his one man play Jimmy Stewart & Friends. There’s a street named in his honour close to the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club so I went for a ride and checked it out. Blue line is how I got there, green is my route back, orange hi-lites are sections that are a bit treacherous to bike along.

Riverside Drive south of Walkley has raised paved shoulders separate from the sidewalk, like so.

Raised paved shoulder along Riverside Drive
Raised Paved Shoulders, or Bike Path Wannabes

There are sections where these paved shoulders disappear, as I’ve hi-lited in orange on the above map. These are Biker Beware zones, i.e. four lanes, fast cars, and minimal shoulder space.

Rich Little Drive is a pleasant little street, lined with houses all very generous in proportion to their lots. The street must have been developed at a time when multiple garages were a coveted feature, judging by the predominance they occupy in all of the front elevations.

Houses along Rich Little Drive
Houses along Rich Little Drive

A bit further east along Fox Hunt Ave this very well preserved Sea Ranch style house stands apart.

Sea Ranch Style
Sea Ranch Style

All of the paved paths were clear of snow including these along Mooney’s Bay. Yeah Spring!

Path along Mooney's Bay
Path along Mooney’s Bay
Rideau River in the Spring
Rideau River in the Spring