Marlborough Forest in North Gower: Hiking Guide

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Marlborough Forest to the rescue! After 2 months of quarantine, this was the first open trail that I managed to get on. Thaaaaaank you for being open, not crowded, and a wonderful immersion in nature.

Ummm, who’s ready to get back to soak in that fresh air?! Who’s ready to hit the trails?! <hand raised> Alright, here’s everything you need to know about hiking the trails in Marlborough Forest…

The Low Down

  • Distance from Ottawa: 50kms (45mins).
  • GPS Coordinates: Unknown.
  • Address: 3546-3700 Roger Stevens Dr, North Gower, ON K0A 2T0
  • Directions: Take Hwy 417 West. Then exit and take Hwy 416 South. Continue on Hwy 416 South for 38kms (20 mins) and take exit #49 for Rodger Steven Dr/County Rd 6. Turn right (west) on Rodger Stevens Dr. Continue for approx 15kms until you reach parking E2 (north side) or E3 (south side).
  • Entrance Fee: Free.
  • Parking: E2 (North) and E3 (South).
  • Trailhead: At parking lot.
  • Number of Trails: 2 main trail systems.
  • Total Distance of Trails: 29+kms
  • Elevation Gain: None.
  • Washrooms: None.
  • Cell Reception: Yes.
  • Season: All season.
  • Features: Pond, boardwalk, bridges.
  • Activities: Hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobile, and hunting in the fall.
  • Dogs: Yes (on leash).
  • Suggested Stops: Marlborough Pub and Eatery, North Gower Farmer’s Market.
  • Nearby Hikes: Baxter Conservation Area and Ferguson Forest
  • More Information: Visit Ontario Trails and the City of Ottawa (trail map).
Source: City of Ottawa

In Good Company

Well, a little hard to chat about being in good company in a time of physical distancing! Ha ha. Alright, so hiking solo it is. That works. Plus, there’s always the wildlife to keeps us company.

Marlborough Forest Trails

The trail system in Marlborough Forest is easy enough to follow and you can think of it as a “Northside” and “Southside” split.

Northside departs from parking lot E2.

Southside departs from parking lot E3.

The forest and trail system runs through both private and City of Ottawa owned lands. It consist of 9,300+ hectares (wetlands, wildlife fields, natural forests, plantations).

Northside Trails

Northside departs from parking lot E2.

Consists of a very wide dirt and gravel pathway through the forest. The trail makes it easy to maintain physical distancing and is suitable for robust strollers.

Southside Trails

Southside departs from parking lot E3.

Cedar Grove Trail

Cedar Grove Trail is a 4km loop through cedar forest around a scenic pond. The trail varies between open grass area, narrow (1-2 person wide) paths, and boardwalk. The trail is very well maintained, however is not suitable for strollers on the east side.

To hike this trail, start by following the orange arrows from the E3 Parking Lot. Once you hit the three way trail divide either a) take the blue arrow left (east) to hike clockwise a round or b) follow the orange arrow straight to take a counter clockwise hike around the pond.

If you take option b: then you rejoin the blue arrow trail markers in 250m.

Rideau Trail

The orange trail markers are for the trail leading to the Rideau Trail (that runs from Kingston to Ottawa). The Marlborough Forest section on the Rideau Trail is from Rogers Pond to Jock Trail (Rideau Trail Map 15).

Cedar Grove Trail Features

Of course, the centerpiece of this looped hike is of Rogers Pond. It is a beautiful clear pond that can be viewed from the start of the hike (if hiking counter clockwise) from a large grassy area.

Along the trail you’ll also see a wooden bridge and a boardwalk section on the far south side.

Cedar Grove ViewPoints

The best view point is just 50 m from the three way trail split, looking out over the pond.

Wildlife

Except for the wild turkey that surprised the bananas out of me on the trail, no wildlife was spotted. Although Marlborough Forest is a prime hunting spot in the fall and there are black bear warnings at the trailheads.

Bird lovers can rejoice, this lesser trafficked trail meant plenty of bird watching opportunities. Catch a glimpse of the chickadees who don’t mind sharing seeds if you bring some. Two woodpeckers and a heron also made an appearance!

Accommodations

No nearby accommodations to suggest. There is crown land nearby however the regulations on camping are unclear.

Nourish Thy Self

Before the hike, it was a stop at Morning Owl in Manotick for a latte and fresh baked biscuit to fuel the days adventures. If you’re looking for some post hike fuel, the Marlborough Pub and Eatery is just down the road from the trailheads. Ooohhh, and did I mention a farmers market? That too.

Wrapping Up

Have you been to Marlborough Forest? Share your thoughts on the trail below.

Remember to respect the trails by only hiking trails that are officially open, hiking on the paths and not around, and hiking out whatever you hike in (please don’t litter).

Happy hiking!

Victoria xo