About the trail
The Ski Heritage East Trail is expertly groomed for a wide variety of outdoor winter activities, including skate and classic skiing, fat-biking, snowshoeing as well as walking. The trail covers an out and back distance of 40 km along the banks of the Ottawa River from the Aviation Museum in the west to Tweddle (Trim) Road in the east. Easily accessible by foot, car or bus at one of the many trailhead entrances, the trails cover many of the same areas residents of East Ottawa ride their bicycles, run or walk on in the summer months.
2018 marked the first year of trail grooming by the Ski Heritage East volunteer group. The increased quality and frequency of grooming attracted thousands of Trail users of all ages. During the pandemic our users were very appreciative of the chance to get outside and reap the mental and physical benefits of winter activity. A quality winter trail adds to the attractiveness of eastern Ottawa as active living communities by providing a unique opportunity to stay active 12 months of the year.
Ski Heritage East is a non-profit group that relies on donations from Trail users, sponsors, and support from the City of Ottawa and NCC.
A Little History
Inspired by the success of the new SJAM (now Kichi Sibi) Trail, Orleans residents Jean Lepage, Ian Gadbois and Louis Caron, visited to ask how it was being done. The first advice from SJAM’s founder, Dave Adams, was “Don’t do it, it’s too hard”. Fortunately, we ignored that advice.
A major snowstorm in March 2017 allowed Lafleur de la Capitale, who had groomed the Gatineaus for many years, to groom a short stretch of Trail for two weeks as a demonstration project. Local residents flocked to the new Trail. The Winter of 2017/18, the City of Ottawa provided pilot funding to engage Lafleur to groom a longer, 5km stretch of Trail. The Trail was an instant success.
The following season, 2018/19, a group of similarly-minded community organizations, including Ski Heritage East (now including Lyle Fair and Alexa Brewer), SJAM, Kanata Nordic, Britannia, and Orleans Nordic, successfully lobbied the City and the NCC to establish an annual fund to support Winter Recreation Trails. This group became what is now the Urban Winter Trails Alliance.
A successful fundraising campaign that year, combined with the contributions from the City and NCC, enabled us to purchase our first two second-hand snowmobiles and, under the leadership of Head Groomer, Lyle Fair, assemble a team of volunteer groomers to do the grooming ourselves. During this season, we were joined on the Board by local resident and self-professed Nordic ski nut, Reece Rendall.
Each season the trail has been expanded and/or improved, resulting in a recreation trail that now runs from west of the Aviation Museum to Tweddle Road, with loops and spurs in between. The launch of a local sponsorship program, continued support of individual donors, and a dedicated group of volunteers, has enabled Ski Heritage East to add two newer snow machines, some specialized grooming equipment, and organizational expertise to our arsenal.
Beginning with Orléans roots, the Trail now services the communities of eastern Ottawa, including Beacon Hill, Manor Park and Rockcliffe, as well as users from all over the Greater Ottawa area.
The Ski Heritage East Trail and Eastern Ottawa have become a prime winter recreation destination.
About the team
The Ski Heritage East volunteer team is made up of dedicated volunteers working with passion to make cross-country skiing in the east end of Ottawa as pleasurable as possible.
We have volunteers doing a wide variety of work:
- Administration & government relations
- Marketing and social media
- Trail grooming
- Equipment maintenance
- Website maintenance and development