Ottawa, ON

Rideau Canal Loop

The Rideau Canal is a World Heritage site and the path along it is one of the signature runs in Ottawa. There are dedicated running paths along the eastern and western sides of the canal, stretching nearly five flat miles from Confederation Park/University of Ottawa (just east of Parliament Hill) to Mooney’s Bay Park. The canal is narrow and there are numerous crossings & bridges along the way. Note: Sections of Colonel By Drive are closed to cars on Sundays, which is a bonus for runners. We’ve compiled a few running options for the Canal Paths. Some sections, especially the paths closest to downtown and Parliament Hill, are maintained in the winter. Note also that in winter, the Canal itself becomes the longest maintained skating rink in the world — and there’s lots of infrastructure along the path that skaters (and runners) can avail themselves of: changing rooms, warming huts, hot drinks, and so on. Very festive!

Options, starting from National Defense Building, opposite Confederation Park:

  • Short Loop. 6-mile one way loop. Take the Eastern side 3 miles and cross over to the western side at Carleton University at Bronson Ave.
  • Long Loop. This adds another 2.8 miles, heading out on the eastern side and including a loop around Dow’s Lake, returning on the western side.
  • East Side, One Way. This table shows the east side path one way, with key distance points and crossing options. Instead of looping around the lake, continue through Carleton University to Hogs Back Park/Falls and Mooney’s Bay Park.
  • West Side, One Way. This map shows the east side path one way, with key distance points and crossing options. The western side parallels the eastern side for 3 miles. Then the path heads around Dow’s Lake and through the Dominion Arboretum and Fletcher Wildlife Garden, terminating at Carleton University, where there’s a crossing near the Library building to the eastern path.
Eastern Side Segment Distances  Western Side Segment Distances



  • Short Run: 6 miles RT. Long Run: Includes loop around Dow’s lake. 8.8 miles. Eastern Canal Path One-Way. 4.8 miles. Western Canal Path One-Way. 4.6 miles.
  • Short Run Start: National Defense Building, opposite Confederation Park.