Ottawa, ON

A comprehensive guide to running in Ottawa, Ontario


Ottawa is Canada’s national capital. The greater Ottawa area, which includes Gatineau, Quebec, is home to about 1 million residents. It is a fantastic city for running, with hundreds of miles of off-road pathways looping around the city’s important sites and along the Ottawa River, the Rideau River, and the Rideau Canal. The best places to run in Ottawa, Ontario include the Capital Pathway, consisting of more than 100 miles of mostly paved trails linking sites, parks, and waterways in the ‘National Capital Region’, as it is known, from the heart of Ottawa out to the Gatineau hills in Quebec. Ottawa is a modestly sized, quiet city. There are few high-rises, and 20 minutes outside the city it is countryside.

Running highlights in Ottawa include a tour of the main National Capital sites and important museums; lovely paths on either side of the Rideau Canal; paths along the Rideau River and the Ottawa River; and trail running in Gatineau Park. Most of the running right in Ottawa is generally flat, but it becomes progressively hillier out toward Quebec and the Gatineau hills. The Ottawa River separates the Ontario and Quebec sides: eastern side is Ontario, and western side is Quebec.

Ottawa is fairly compact, so most of the iconic routes are accessible from the main downtown hotels. Public transportation consists mainly of bus routes, run by OC Transpo on the Ontario side. There is also a light rail system called the O-Train, which consists of a couple of lines and is currently being expanded.

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Gatineau Park

Ottawa, Ontario

Gatineau Park is a great destination if you have time. There are several lakeside beaches, and more than 100 miles of paved and unpaved trails for walking and running.

One particular note about running in Ottawa: winter. Ottawa’s winter climate is among the harshest of any major city, with nearly 100 inches of snow annually and temps below freezing from mid-November until March. This makes for some gorgeous winter running, as well as other recreational opportunities such as skating and cross-country skiing. However, be careful about icy conditions. Some of the pathways are cleared and maintained, but not all. So bring your Yak Traks and dress warmly! Also note that some pathways, particularly in Gatineau Park, might favor X-C skiers in winter and running might be prohibited.

Ottawa’s climate has a bearing on runners. Winters are among the harshest of any major city in the world. Average high temperatures in January are about 20F (-6C), and lows are close to 5F (-15c). Temps can stay blow freezing for weeks at a time from December until March. Snowfall averages nearly 100 inches per winter. What does this mean for runners? Surfaces can be snowy and icy. Winter running in Ottawa can also be unique and beautiful, with snow-lined paths and frozen rivers. In fact, the Rideau Canal is the longest longest maintained skating path in the world. Summers are very pleasant for running, with high temps averaging around 80F (26C) and lows around 60 (15C). Fall is also gorgeous, as the maple trees turn. It can get pretty chilly by October, so bring layers.


Most of the hotels in Ottawa are clustered downtown near Parliament to the south of Colonel By Dr, in the Queen St., Elgin St., and Laurier Ave. areas. Think of a square between Wellington to the north, Colonel By Dr., Bay, and the Trans Canada Highway. There are also some hotels right near the University of Ottawa. There is also a cluster of hotels just across the river in Hull, Quebec. All of these hotels are located within a mile or two of most of the iconic running paths in Ottawa.

Some of the more well-known and run-friendly hotels are: The Westin, Lord Elgin, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, and the more modern Arc Hotel.


Running Room is the major running store outlet in Ottawa, with 6 locations. The most centrally located are on Slater St. near Parliament Hill or on Bank St. Thanks especially to Phil Marsh, Regional Manager for Running Room, for his help with this post.

Sports 4 is the other centrally located running store.

Group Runs: All Running Room stores have group runs Wednesday 6pm or 6:30 pm and Sunday 8:30 am.

Ottawa running calendar, from RunGuides

Run Ottawa Calendar

Some important annual running events in Ottawa:

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend/Scotiabank Marathon. Last weekend in May. This is a huge running weekend, attracting nearly 50,000 participants. Includes the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon, 10ks, kids races.

Army Run. Ottawa’s version of the Marine Corps Marathon. Wonderful running event, nearly 30,000 participants. Also multiple events over the weekend. A chance for the troops to extend the military esprit de corps to Canadians and to thank them for their support. And, it’s an opportunity for Canadians to say thanks to the men and women who serve them in so many ways at home and abroad.

Ottawa Triathlon. Canada’s signature triathlon event. July.

Ottawa Ultimate Triathlon. Skate and Run. A unique event. January.

New Year’s Eve Resolution Run. Running Room sponsors these runs across Canada on…wait for it…New Year’s Eve.