Ultimate Guide to Hiking with Dogs in Ottawa + Region

Hiking with dogs in Ottawa and Region…Where can I hike with my dog? What about in the winter? Are there off-leash parks nearby? Why can’t I bring my dog to trail XYZ? Common questions and concerns as we saw a spike in two areas during the pandemic – an increase in dog owners and a significant increase in hikers and new hikers hitting the trails. 

And with good reason, there is overwhelming evidence that having “man’s best friend” by our side positively impacts our mental and overall health. Plus, dogs are adorable. This article is to empower pet owners with awareness that promotes responsible recreation.

Hiking With Dogs - Sunny
Sunny, the ah-mazingly lovable and bestest hiking buddy of HikeAddicts

mindset: Setting the stage

Just like the ‘Hiker’s Oath’ in ‘Guide to Hiking Trails in Ottawa + Region‘… I am responsible for my actions and impact in nature.  I am responsible for the actions and impact of my dog in nature.

The Golden Rule: It does not suffice to say, “It’s ok, my dog is friendly”. Please do not allow your dog to engage with strangers unless the stranger gives explicit permission.

Impact: Understanding the 'why' behind On Leash Guidelines

We’ll get to the abundance of ah-mazing dog-friendly trails and parks in a second, but as a dog owner and hiker, it is important as all get out to understand our responsibility and the impact of hiking with our pups. It’s the reasoning behind the guidelines – why there are specific dog-friendly trails and why not all trails are dog-friendly.  

Trauma

Unless on private property, in an off-leash park, or in a municipality that permits off-leash - kindly keep dogs on-leash. Even though you know your dog's temperment and behaviour, what is unknown is its impact on those who have experienced a trauma involving dogs or who have a fear of dogs. The consequence can have negative residual effects like anxiety, depression, and PTSD. And as amazing as our dogs are, there's no way to know how they'll react to strangers.

Invasive Species

Our favourite furry friends can't read signs, and roaming freely can result in dogs collecting seeds and spreading invasive species. With the same reasoning that we clean out our hiking boots at the trailhead after each hike, we should be checking and cleaning our pup’s paws and brushing its fur as well before leaving a hiking site.

Groomed Ski Trails

Did you know that divots cause by hikers or dogs walking across groomed ski tracks increases risk of injury to skiers? A fall while skiing can result in muscle strains and injury.

Protect Your Pet

Keeping dogs on-leash prevents them from engaging with predators like porcupines, bears, coyotes, skunks, etc. Also reduces the risk of ticks while hiking in high tick areas.

Protect Strangers Pets

An unleashed dog may attack a vulnerable, leashed dog. Unleashed dogs are known to injure and even kill other dogs that are leashed. Trauma suffered, even if there is no obvious injury, also is a hazard for dogs.

Allergies

Unless on private property, in an off-leash park, or in a municipality that permits off-leash - kindly keep dogs on-leash. Cats are normally what we think about when we think about pet allergies; however, there are people with severe allergies to dogs as well. As much as any dog is happy to greet others with a paw and lick, the consequence can have serious / life threatening effects.

Birds + other fauna

When it comes to designated natural areas (parks, nature reserves, migratory bird sanctuaries, etc.), check prior to heading out with your dog. Some will allow dogs on-leash and others have a no dogs allowed policy in order to protect their conservation values. Plenty of bird species nest on the ground (about 50 in Lanark County alone) and wandering dogs can cause them stress, kill them, smash or eat their eggs, or alter their predators. Young of other wild species are equally vulnerable. Not to mention, even healthy domesticated dog poop can carry viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can be passed on to wild animals.

Wellbeing of others

Trails that are ‘on-leash only’ are shared spaces and come with the expectation that any dog encountered will be leashed and under the control of the owner. Aging adults or persons with varied degrees of mobility/sight/hearing challenges may be easily knocked off balance and/or unintentionally injured by an off-leash, overzealous, happy dog.

Experience of others

Off-leash dogs are highly likely to disturb/destroy the experience for people wanting a wild/semi-natural experience in nature. Dogs can disturb the calm, peaceful environment people seek visually, by vocalizing, and by reducing potential opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Resources: Just dig in

Some fantastic resources to read through include:

What needs to be considered when hiking with a dog

The SPCA in BC has an excellent article that lists out how to prepare your dog for a hike, health checks to consider, what to pack, and trail etiquette. Check out the easy-to-read article “The ultimate guide to hiking with your dog“. 

Always hike within your dog’s limit (and yours!)

Did you know that you can take a dog first aid course?!? They are offered in Ottawa by the Ottawa Humane Society and Dog Safe.

Hiking Hacks: For Hitting the Trails with Pups

There are a few hacks that you can put into play to make hiking with dogs all the better.

  • besides bringing poop bags, bring a large ziplock or large eco bag to carry the poop bags in your day pack. Nobody likes seeing poop bags along the trail or hanging in trees, this hack means you hike out your dogs poops aaaaand you don’t have to smell it the whole hike. #winwin

Do you have hiking hacks to share? Comment on this post or email victoria@girlgonegood.com so that they can be added!

"Dog friendly trails, fenced-off exercise areas, and designated dog beaches ensure that everyone has a good time. (...) By keeping your pup on-leash, you are not just creating memories with your dog and enjoying your natural surroundings, you are preserving the area so that dogs and owners can experience the same beautiful trail you did for years to come."

Ontario Parks

Hiking with Dogs in ottawa

Some NCC trails close to dogs in the winter so that we can share the trails with skiers and snowshoers. Other trails don’t allow dogs due to rare species or species at risk. That said, there are plenty of dog-friendly trails available!  Best list to check out below is the All Season dog-friendly trails. Remember to check out the NCC trail map and the GirlGoneGood Trail Finder Map.

Summer

Ah-mazing on-leash dog friendly trails:  

Carbide Wilson,  Lusk Cave, Wolf (Trail 62), Skyline, Lauriault, Champlain, Lac des fees, Sugarbush, Pioneers, Merivale Gardens, Pine Grove, Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail, Osgoode Link Trail, Fitzroy PP.

No dogs permitted on the following trails: 

Pink Lake Trail, Luskville Falls TrailKing Mountain Trail.

All Season

Ah-mazing on-leash dog friendly trails: 

Ferguson Forest (off leash park), Limerick Forest, Monaghan Forest, Marlborough Forest, Forest Valley Loop, Stonebridge Trail, Berryl Gaffney (soon to have offleash park), Chapman Mills CA, Gregory Casey Stormwater Trail, Trans-Canada Trail, South Marsh CA, Monk Environmental Park, Sheila McKee Park, Burnt Lands Provincial Park, Fletcher Wildlife Gardens, Morris Island CA, Carp River CA, Baxter CA, Crazy Horse Trail.

No dogs permitted on the following trails:

Mer Bleu (including Dewberry Trail), Shirley’s Bay (Shoreline Trail), Old Quarry Trail, Jack Pine Trail,  King Mountain Trail, Luskville Falls Trail, Pink Lake, Mud Lake, Petrie Island

Winter

Ah-mazing on-leash dog friendly trails: 

Sugarbush Trail, Lauriault Trail, Pioneers Trail, Capital Pathway.

No dogs permitted on the following trails:

Carbide Wilson, Merivale Gardens, Pine Grove, all trails designated for skiing. 

 

Off Leash Parks

The interactive map of “City of Ottawa Dog Parks” highlights the abundance of dog-friendly parks in our city. Including the eight off-leash parksNCC-owned off-leash parks: Bruce Pit, Conroy Pit, Hampton Park, Pine Hill, Rockcliffe–Hillsdale, and Stanley Avenue Park.

Berryl Gaffney Park will have a new off-leash park in the works.

Barkwood Forest by Boogity Dog Walking in Stittsville! It is an experience that, in their words: “allows Barkwood members to walk their social and friendly dogs themselves on
our gorgeous 100 acres of dog park paradise
including plowed trails all
winter long. 
Barkwood is open to members daily from dawn until dusk 7 days per week, 365 days per year.”  There are 6kms worth of trails through wooded and open areas.

Hiking with Dogs in L'Outaouais

Ah-mazing on-leash dog friendly trails:  

Kenauk Nature, foret bowman, mont cayamant, mont o’brien, parc des montagnes noire, sentiers des chute rouges, sentiers de la chute quinn, sentiers de la croix, parc de chutes de denholm, mont morissette, wakefield trails. 

No dogs permitted on the following trails: 

Reserve ecologique de la foret-la-blanche, oiseau rock.

Reminder that dogs (on leash) are only permitted on the 4 hiking trails in Gatineau Park in the winter: Pioneers, Sugarbush, Capital, and Lauriault.

Hiking With Dogs in Les Laurentides

Ah-mazing on-leash dog friendly trails:  

Mont tremblant, eco-laurentides, montagnes du diable, sentier national labelle, mont limoges, parc regional du poisson blanc, montagne verte, morin-heights trail network.

No dogs permitted on the following trails: 

Reserve faunique de papineau-labelle.

Hiking With Dogs in Prescott-Russell County

Ah-mazing on-leash dog friendly trails:  

NY Central Fitness Trail, Alfred Bog Walk, W.E. Burton CA, J.Henry Tweed CA, Larose Forest, Lavigne Natural Park, Parc Nokomis.

Off leash parks: Embrun/Russell dog park.

Hiking With Dogs in Stormont, Dundas, & Glengarry County

Ah-mazing on-leash dog friendly trails:  

Glengarry Trails, Gray’s Creek CA, Moose Creek Recreational Trail, Oschmann Forest, Reveler CA, Robert Graham CA, Two Creeks CA, Warwick Forest.

No dogs permitted on the following trails: 

Cooper Marsh CA, Summerstown Trails, Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

Hiking With Dogs in leeds and Grenville County

Ah-mazing on-leash dog friendly trails:  

Charleston Lake PP, Ferguson Forest, Foley Mountain, Limerick Forest, Lyn Valley CA, Mill Pond CA.

No dogs permitted on the following trails: 

Mac Johnson Wildlife Area.

Hiking With Dogs in lanark County

Ah-mazing on-leash dog friendly trails:  

Baird and Munro, Blueberry Mountain, High Lonesome Nature Reserve, Kate’s Lake, Mill of Kintail, Tay River Pathway, Wheeler’s Maple, Blakeney Rapids.

No dogs permitted on the following trails: 

Almonte Lagoons Trail, Perth Wildlife Reserve, Poole Family Nature Sanctuary, Purdon CA, Silver Lake PP.

Hiking With Dogs in lennox & addington County

Ah-mazing on-leash dog friendly trails:  

Bon Echo PP, Parrott’s Bay CA, Sheffield CA, Thomas P Murray Recreational Trails.

No dogs permitted on the following trails: 

Rose Hill Nature Reserve.

Hiking With Dogs in Frontenac County

Ah-mazing on-leash dog friendly trails:  

Bon Echo PP, Depot Lakes CA, Frontenac PP, Gould Lake CA, Kennebec Wilderness, Crotch Lake Trail, Meisel Woods CA, Palmerston-Canonto CA, Portland CA, Rock Dunder Nature Reserve, Sharbot Lake PP, Schooner Trail.

No dogs permitted on the following trails: 

Marble Rock CA

Hiking With Dogs in Renfrew County

Ah-mazing on-leash dog friendly trails:  

Dacre Heights, Deacon Escarpment, Eagles Nest/Manitou Mountain, Jamieson Mountain, Griffith Uplands, Shaw Woods Educational Centre, Wabun Lake.

No dogs permitted on the following trails: 

Bonnechere PP.

Wrapping up

At the end of the day, it’s about respecting your dog, others, and the land we’re hiking on. And that’s what this incredible community is all about! 

Understanding the impact helps to appreciate why certain rules and guidelines are in place when it comes to hiking with dogs. A special thank you to Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust for reviewing and providing added insights for this article. Cheers to responsible recreation!