There is little as beautiful and grounding as watching the sun rise over the horizon. Except perhaps, an incredible sunset? It’s hard to choose. Why not enjoy both?! Let’s chase the those views this year.
Catching the sunrise or sunset is also a great way to appreciate shorter/underrated trails and avoid crowds. Listed are trails that offer up the best views of sunrises and sunsets within 2hrs of Ottawa and some tips to stay safe!
Steps to Planning the Perfect Sunrise or sunset Hike
The sun rises in the East and sets in the west. You’ll want to find a lookout with 360′ views, a towers, or a view point in the right direction for sun exposure. You can trust me with the recommendations below, ha ha, or double check sun-direction for Ottawa. Safety tip: Pick a trail you’ve previously hiked.
Plan to arrive at your viewing location 45 minutes before the sun rises or 30 minutes before sun sets. This way your capture all aspects of the sun, like how it crests over the horizon in the mornings providing the opportunity for some incredible pictures.
For sunrise and sunset hikes, having a few clouds is actually a good thing! They make for incredible pictures and add diversity to the sky as the sun changes positions. Pick a day that has up to 50% cloud coverage and low humidity.
What to pack
Of course, it’s best to bring the 10 essentials on every hike. Critical things to bring with you on a sunrise or sunset hike are navigation and headlamp with extra batteries. A warm layer, like a mid layer jacket or blanket, is highly recommended for these hikes. It will likely be chilly after hiking to your location and then standing around to watch the sun. In summer months, bug spray or a bug shirt is a must for Ontario. Consider hiking poles for moderate to challenging trails, or trails with uneven terrain to help minimize the risk of falling (roots and rocks make great trip hazards).
Bonus: Bring someone with you! Not only is it enjoyable to share this experience with others but it’s also an added safety factor.
Hiking Hacks for Sunrise and Sunset Hikes
Nature is for all. And we are all hikers. Nothing fancy is really required, the only thing that IS needed is a little preparation and knowledge to make the right hiking choices for you.
So what is the big deal with catching the sunrise or sunset? Nothing major, but a few considerations to keep in mind so that you have a safe and rewarding hike!
- Many trails are only open from sunrise to sunset and therefore it is not permitted to hike in the dark. Usually this is for good reason, like the trail is hard to navigate at dark. Regardless, it’s our own responsibility to respect and follow the guidelines set out by trail managers.
- Check if the trail has cell reception before you head out, if there is cell reception make sure your cell is full charged and bring an extra portable battery charger. If there is no cell reception, bring a GPS device/spotter and consider bring a compass/map.
- Hike the trail in daylight first so that you get to know the terrain and can prepare properly.
Sunrise And Sunset Hikes - Boardwalks and Plains
This is a great example of how more accessible trails can have some incredible perks! Counties like Prescott-Russell, Stormont Dundas & Glengarry, and Leeds Grenville has more flat terrain and some fantastic marshlands that offer up sunrise and sunset views that would leave anyone in awe.
Sunrise and Sunset Hikes - Rivers and Lakes
It’s an easy win to grab a spot by the river, or to go out on a lake (hey, hey, SUP anyone?!?) for epic views! Thankfully, in Ontario, we have more rivers and lakes than we know what to do with! Just pick one, make sure you’re properly prepared (safety first!) and go! If you’re looking for an inner city win, anywhere along the Ottawa River is great for sunrise. Try the lookout at MacNamara Trail in Arnprior, Sheila McKee Park, Constance Bay beach, or along the NCC’s Ottawa River Pathway.
Sunrise And Sunset Hikes - Vistas and Towers
The winning ticket, that everyone seems to gravitate towards when it comes to picking hiking trails, are the ones that include an epic vista or a tower offering 360′ views. Listed below are some great options for photographers and nature lovers to capture quiet moments to watch the sun rise or set.
- Mont Morisette (sunrise and sunset)
- Mont Tremblant (sunset)
- Manitou Moutain (sunrise)
- Blueberry Mountain (sunset)
- Deacon Escarpment (sunset)
- Wabun Lake (sunset)
- PCCA (sunrise)
Insider Tip: Rock Dunder is not an ideal sunset location. First, the trail is only open dawn to dusk, and secondly, the trail is hard to navigate at night.
Want to Bring your Dog hiking?
Know what trails are designated no dogs permitted, on-leash dogs permitted, and off-leash dogs permitted. Check out ‘The Ultimate Guide to Hiking with Dogs in Ottawa + Region‘ for trails details, insights, and recommendations.
What are your favourite Sunrise/Sunset Spots and Tips?
Comment below with you favourite sunrise or sunset hiking trails along with any tips and tricks that you have for the community!