Ottawa Valley – Rail Trail

Smiths Falls to Mattawa
Posted on August 6, 2022 / 2577
Ottawa Valley – Rail Trail
Listing Types : Rail Trail
Location : Eastern Ontario
Note : New Trail
Total Trail Km : 296
Double track % : 95
Road % : 5
Rate Skill Levels : Easy
Terrain : crushed gravel, bridges, drains well, open field, rocky patches
Faclities : parking, food close by, lodging, trailhead map, good signage, trails maintained
Trail Fee : Free

Length – 296 km (one way)

95% rail trail path
5% road crossings, detours

Elevation – Flat, gradually sloping northward

Terrain – Fine crushed stone, larger gravel patches, asphalt sections in towns

Skill – Easy

Maps –  Maps boards and new signage 

Traffic – Cyclists, hikers, ATVs, snowmobiles

Facilities – Parking lots, benches

Highlights – Bridges, shoreline views, old historic towns, Railway Museum in Smith Falls

Trail Fee – Free

Phone – 613 735 7288

Website – Ottawa Valley Recreational TrailFB page

Similar Trails – K&PG2GNorth Simcoe

Local Clubs – Ottawa Bicycle Club,   Ottawa Valley Cycling & ATA

Access – Parking lots exist at the Pembroke Waterfront Park, on Meehan St. in Arnprior, at Hwy 20 in Pakenham, at Reserve St. in Almonte and on Coleman St. and also at 10th Line in Carleton Place.

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The new 296 km Ottawa Valley Rail Trail (OVRT) will be the longest rail trail in Ontario when finished. What was once a CP rail line running up the Ottawa River is now being resurfaced as a very long recreational trail.

On the south end, it starts just outside Smiths Falls and runs north through many old towns in the Ottawa Valley to Arnprior to meet the river. Then this rail trail follows this mighty river NW all the way to Mattawa. Wow, that is almost to North Bay!

I am happy to announce that the southern half of this trail is ready for you to explore this summer (2022). The northern half from Petawawa to Mattawa is still been resurfaced and manicured. (progress Map)

We had a chance to ride two sections. First, we sampled the Pembroke to Petawawa section (called the Algonquin Trail). Highlights are the old bridge crossings in town and the shoreline views in Pembroke. The trail continues south through Cobden and Renfrew, before reconnecting to the Ottawa River again before Arnprior. 

Then, further south in farm country, we rode the Lanark County section through the towns of Pakenham, Almonte/Mississippi Mills, and Carleton Place. These are old milling rail stops along the Mississippi River (yes another one).

Quaint, historic downtown streets with antique shops and ice cream vendors can give you a reason to stop for a while and are the most interesting part of this trek.

The countryside in this very wide valley is flat farmland. As such, sections of the track run relatively straight between towns. Views are of crops in farm fields and wetlands (when not obscured by trees and tall shrubs). We had little shade on our midday ride.

This rail trail path has a new base of fine crushed gravel, which will still be dusty for a few years ’til it compacts. I noticed crews had used larger gravel for pothole repairs (why this large?). You have to watch out for these rocky patches. Otherwise, the going is easy for a gravel bike or MTB.

This path allows ATVs; we saw a few pass us slowly with no issues, then we waited for the dust to settle. Snowmobiles are also allowed but were not much of an issue on our sunny July weekend.

I am glad to see this trail open up to enable long-distance trail riders and Bikepackers to connect with other rail trails. You can now reach Ottawa via the Canada Central RT from Carleton Place or get to the  K&P RT at Renfrew or continue onto the Cataraqui RT at Smiths Falls. This really opens up route possibilities.

This cycling way is certain to become popular, as it has enough town stops with meals and lodging to service riders’ needs. When they get finished resurfacing the base and adding new parking lots, signs, benches, and other frills, it will be a joy to tour.

I’ll let you know how it progresses, in time.

 

This new ride review is not yet published in my book but 65 other great destinations are, with better maps, parking suggestions & train history.  Available as an eBook or paperback.

Ottawa Valley rail trail map

Ottawa Valley rail trail map

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