The Heritage East recreational trail along the banks of the Ottawa River is a new 30 km easy winter trek for Nordic skiing or Snowshoeing.
This is a convenient urban outing for anyone on the east side of Ottawa. Great for beginners like the SJAM trail further upstream or for seasoned skiers looking to put in some mileage.
I was there last winter and the conditions were good, the sun was out and the air was crisp. The path traverses along the south bank of the partially frozen Ottawa R. with views of Quebec on the other side.
What is a cycle/walking path in the summer serves as a community classic and skate skiing track in the winter. I have also seen Snowshoe activity and Fatbikes on this route. Add walkers and dogs to the list could also mean a lumpy route of footprints if it has not snowed or been groomed lately for smooth skate skiing (and a good reason to pay for a trail pass elsewhere).
Thankful dedicated volunteers do groom and post snow conditions often. (They are always in need of donations for gas and machine maintenance.)
From the west side, the path now extends to the Aviation and Space Museum, as the route runs down low and flat close to the water’s edge. This stretch is more out in the open and gives beautiful views but could be windswept. As you get to Green’s Creek the route is more treed and sheltered as it climbs to higher ground.
Once across the creek road bridge, the trail swings back to the mighty river as you approach the suburbs of Orléans. Here eventually is a long road crossing where you may have to take off your skis and walk along Radisson Way to Hiawatha Park Rd. for 530 metres.
Beyond this, the Heritage path goes through woodlots and fields with a few short hills and wide turns. This section is much more of a secluded forest setting with limited views of the river or homes. You might even think you are out in the country.
The path finishes at Trim Rd. as it comes up to the road level of Jean D’Arc Blvd. N. a flat, straight somewhat dull ending.
Ample signage keeps you on course. Though there is no designated separate Snowshoe trail, you can wander off on other hiking paths as snowshoers often do and make up your own adventure.
Considering the Ottawa area gets an ample amount of snowfall, back in 2017 this popular summer trail got locals thinking to make good use of it in the winter too. I am glad they did, and since then it has grown in length and popularity every year.