Monday, August 11, 2014

Urban Trails

I grabbed a run on some urban trails near the Ottawa airport before picking Derrick up from his Gaspe trip, and was surprised by how nice they were. They were located in the Stony Swamp section of the city's extensive Green Belt. I parked at P11 on West Hunt Club Road just east of Moodie Drive.

I was able to enjoy a 90 minute run by doing some beautiful loops, and it left me wanting to explore more areas. While I ran I got thinking about what a treasure this network is, and what qualities it had that make it a successful urban trail. First, it is very natural and travels through a variety of terrain. It winds through forests and fields, with pretty views of marshes and ponds, and an abundance of birds and small animals. The trails had all types of surfaces and were suitable for hikers, runners, and bikers. Many of the loops would be fine for strollers. There was good access via parking, bike lanes on roads, paved bike paths, and transit service. Maps are available online and also at major trailheads. Each trail intersection was well-signed with locational map and distances to the next points.

The trail network is scalable, from very short loops to larger or multiple loops, with easy connectivity to entirely different areas and the ability to connect to much longer trails like the Rideau Trail. It is easy to do one short section or loop, while always having the feeling you could 'go forever' if so inclined. It was well-maintained, with primitive but clean bathroom facilities and garbage cans and I didn't see any trash on the trails. The trails seem well-used but far from crowded. I felt like I had them to myself a lot but I also periodically came across other people which gives a feeling of safety. There were nice points of interest such as an old relic of a lime kiln and designated viewing points on boardwalks, which people can use as destinations for hikes for themselves or their families.

Here are some photos of various points on the trails I ran. The details of the route I ran are on my training log here.